The fuss of this year’s Students Association Election cycle has concluded in its customary fashion. Here at St Andrews we value tradition; however, an abysmal voter turnout should not be our new Red Gown. This year, only twenty-eight per cent of the student body voted; part of a prolonged decline which will nicely situate us amongst the sub twenty per cent turnout of other Unions in the future. The shock and disappointment of those involved typifies the university politics crowd: a community theatre group who love ersatz politics and self-congratulatory back rubbing. I jest, in spite of the theatrics they are a dedicated group that achieve a great deal. Though greater student involvement must be pushed for, and such a turnout should be a cause for outrage. But who cares? Those who get elected only have to convince the die-hards to get the job, it suits them fine. This is a serious problem, the Union’s elected representatives stand for a pathetic quantity of voters. The low turnout shows that the rest do not feel represented at all. Voter apathy is not to blame, the Union is. They must stop trumpeting that we once had over fifty per cent turnout and face the fact that fewer have voted year on year since then.
On Thursday we distributed two-thousand papers across campus to guide students through the election. When many opened the paper, it was the first they read of the manifestos bar those designed to grab attention when shared online.
Those elected do make a difference, but the Union has to change. It is a monolithic institution for any Josef K who attempts to make the most of it, and simply some cheap bars in the eyes of the rest. Pestering people outside the library with colourful stickers is thus an annoyance, especially when many candidates are guilty of highfalutin ambition with immeasurable aims that cannot be achieved.
When voting, the endless scroll of names encapsulates the Union’s devotion to bureaucracy. It is futile to make an informed decision on every little role. It is vulnerable to unconscious bias and should be disentangled. Let those who do drama vote their representative, how should I know who’s best? It is unlikely to be the person with the flashiest campaign. Voting by virtue of who has the coolest name is what we are left with, something so intensely problematic I’ll go no further. Significantly, the Union buried deep on their webpages the news of the suspension members of the election committee. It is obscene that the biased behaviour of those tasked with maintaining the integrity of the elections should be repressed.
We could be proud of our Union which is distanced from the anti-establishment nonsense that is the NUS. However, when the student body is so deeply uninvolved it descends into a farcical barrage of wordy manifestos and structural incoherence. “‘Like a dog!’ he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him.”