Proposition without opposition

Published

James Porteous

The number of unopposed and vacant positions, in all but one of the current student elections, is a damning indictment of the level of student participation at Glasgow University, and the entire electoral process that serves to fill the numerous positions.

As a result of various technical and apathetic reasons, two of the four Presidential positions open for election will most likely not be filled by a candidate who has won more votes than a competitor. Additionally, several positions, including that of the SRC sabbatical officer who oversees Glasgow University’s media, have nobody running at all.

Beyond this, the way in which numerous contenders for GUU positions have essentially been wiped off the ballot paper, due to frankly insignificant clerical issues, smacks of an over-zealous electoral process that is sacrificing voter choice, in order to conform to traditional rules and regulations. Are these rules actually protecting the integrity of the elections, or are they irrelevant bureaucracy that is preventing a larger number of nominees competing for the positions at the Union?

The fact is, apathy has strangled student politics. The issue was reported last year in this paper and the problem has only worsened in the interim, with fewer people than ever getting involved in the majority of the main student elections at Glasgow University. If this process is to repeat continually, then the student body faces a situation where they will no longer be represented by traditionally elected individuals, but simply those who can string together enough friends to propose them to the position of their choosing.

It must also be mentioned that this is not criticism of those that are running in these elections, or indeed the manner in which they would conduct themselves in the role. Rather, it is a criticism of the failings of the system that they pass through on their way to office, and those that choose to ignore their right to contribute to their education in a manner beyond turning up to lectures and exams. Instead of repeatedly coming up short, student organisations must identify new methods of attracting these students to the empty positions.

Important roles, such as the President of the GUU or SRC, should not be a position of virtual default. They should be fought for in the strongest possible terms, between several determined individuals, fighting on the basis of opposing manifestos, and elected on the basis of these. As such, and where possible, students must vote to re-open nominations in any case where an individual is running unopposed.