For the first time in our five-year strong university career, we sat down, underprepared, to watch the SRC Election Hustings. If you’ve never done this, you should really try it out; the acting is better than in any STaG production, the drama exceeds that of any GUCFS event (or scandal), and the stock phrases and forced smiles make GUST’s homage to Girls – it’s called Lassies, geddit? – look Oscar worthy. Reeling from the excitement of it all, we thought to note here some highlights and advice, both to condense three long hours into a few paragraphs, and to attempt to undercut the force of blind popularity.
The strangest moments in this unfolding drama include: firstly, a protracted admittance of fatal overspending on an unsuccessful Movember campaign, which has resulted in a bizarre stockpile of fake moustaches – assets which we are sure can be liquidated just before the SRC has to sell off services when this penchant for money-wasting continues into Ameer Ibrahim’s potential presidency. (Top tip: don’t let it happen). Secondly, there was the equally bizarre commitment to abolishing recorded lectures for ‘healthy’ students from VP Education candidate and University-sympathiser/staff-member-in-disguise Salim Al-Wasity, if you missed it, this was tantamount to asking disabled and mentally unwell students to declare themselves disadvantaged in order to receive support which is currently available without self-marginalisation.
Of course, it’s always fun to dwell on the negatives – anti-heroes keep the story fresh (read: Donald Trump) – but these elections are incredibly important. The voices that represent the student body need to be strong, well researched, confident, and intelligent. It’s not too unlike what’s going on across the Atlantic. Make a decision based on evidence. Don’t vote for a meme.
Subcity Radio and The Glasgow Guardian believe that it is in all students’ best interest to vote for UnaMarie Darragh. UnaMarie, the current vice president (student support), is the only candidate with a proven record of effective lobbying and successful project management. She has demonstrated a capacity for rigour and decision making that truly responds to the concerns of fellow students, including, a commitment to ensuring the campus redevelopment does not compromise student experience for current students; an active campaign to eradicate sexual violence on campus; and, a strategic approach to increasing SRC transparency (Word of the Year 2016) and accessibility. Her manifesto is realistic, dense, and trustworthy – adjectives which seem to increase in value for every trite slogan and popping colour scheme you’ll be subjected to this election season.
Ameer Ibrahim is not without merit. His record as vice president (student activities) has been called into question - see 'moustachegate' - not least by some of his fellow Council members, but he does have the potential to raise the profile of the SRC considerably. His manifesto, however, lacks the detail needed to give confidence to students, many of whom already think that the SRC is too managerial, too insular, and, ultimately, ineffective. He has missed every opportunity to allay fears over his competence, and in comparison to UnaMarie, he is surprisingly low on meaningful achievements as a sabbatical officer. He shows a genuine willingness to listen to students, but he lacks the leadership qualities needed to campaign effectively on their behalf. His SRC would be a managerial SRC, and that is not what student want, or need, at a time when the future of this university is being decided by bureaucrats and senior managers.
Ellen Morton, the Marxist candidate, has the right intention. She wants the SRC to be a relevant, campaigning organization that stands up for the principle of free education and fights against the cuts to further education colleges. What she lacks is a realistic, workable, agenda, with policies that can be implemented within a year. In an era of anti-establishment politics, an activist SRC is an attractive prospect to many. The problem is that the SRC has an important governance role in this university, which takes up a considerable amount of the executive’s time and energy. Of course, the SRC should campaign for the things it believes in, but Morton seems to have underestimated how many papers she will have to read, how many meetings she will have to attend, and how many emails she will have to respond to. It is unrealistic to assume that the SRC will be able to devote itself solely to campaigning, when so much of its time is taken up by the tedium of day-to-day administration.
So when you vote in today's SRC elections, make sure you are making a decision based not on a candidate's notoriety or their popularity on campus, but on their actual track record and the quality of their manifesto. Because if you want the SRC to actually do its job representing student interests, vote for UnaMarie Darragh for SRC president.
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