Fostering Political Engagement 

Following the reelection of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Rector Catherine Stihler said she has “little confidence” in Mr Corbyn but will “continue to work at a local level” to help councillors “serve their local communities and the people who need them.”

It comes as little surprise that Ms Stihler, a member of the European Parliament, would take such issue with Mr Corbyn, who displayed severe reluctance to campaign for staying in the EU this past summer.

Following Ms Stihler’s comments, The Saint reached out to multiple students regarding their views on the subject.

However, the lack of activity by the St Andrews Labour Society meant we were initially stumped as to who to contact about the matter. The Society has not posted on its Facebook page since February of this year.

The importance of student-led political societies on our campus cannot be understated. These societies are paramount when it comes to educating our student body on matters regarding UK politics, as well as for stimulating debate.

In a university that draws students from all around the globe, party-associated political societies provide a means through which our international student body can learn about the UK’s national politics and political parties.

Regardless of whether you see the United Kingdom as home, the actions of UK politicians from all parties will have an impact on your time at St Andrews.

As a demographic that is known for its political indifference, it is now more important than ever for us to be engaged with and aware of national politics. In order for this to happen, student-led political societies must remain active.

Engaging with peers who share the same beliefs, or even debating with those who have completely antithetical beliefs, encourages civic involvement. By providing a space for discussion, societies can ensure students are well-informed and ready to effect real change.

The Bubble’s Event Epidemic 

Last week, the Xavier Ball committee announced that its annual ball would not be held as scheduled. The event, which was set for 8 October, faced a decline in student interest after rebranding from its original name, Bongo Ball. As a result, the committee was left with a surfeit of both funding and community support. Xavier Ball’s cancellation is the latest development in a trend currently overtaking the world of St Andrews events: market oversaturation.

With a new ball, club night or society function announced  seemingly every other day, interest in events has splintered.

Under Canvas, a small music festival that used to be held toward the end of second semester, was one of the first casualties of this oversaturation.

In April, the festival sold less than 200 tickets. Unable to pay event deposits, the committee announced the festival’s cancellation just days before it was scheduled to occur. It’s clear why Under Canvas and Xavier Ball failed: there are too many events for every one to emerge successfully.

However, Xavier Ball, one of the first victims of the epidemic, could be the event that provides the cure. Although Xavier Ball’s next form is yet to be announced, the possibilities hinted at are promising. Collaboration between societies will create a more diverse event, and the fact that Xavier Ball is no longer a ball will also help.

As long as the committee focuses on creating an event unlike any other in town (perhaps by aligning more closely with the Xavier Project), Xavier Ball should make a full recovery.

The fates of Xavier Ball and Under Canvas provide an important lesson or the rest of St Andrews’ event committees: know your audience, and find a way to shock by providing something different than the standard fare of Kinkell Byre, black tie and champagne.

If you fail to find the element that makes your night out unique, you could be the next committee canceling its event just a week before launch.

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