Tara Gandhi urges you to vote in the upcoming elections on and off campus.
Voting is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen. It can sometimes feel like your vote doesn’t count, but that isn’t true – constituencies in and around Glasgow are some of the most marginal in the country, with Glasgow North East being won by just 242 votes, Glasgow East by 75, and Glasgow South West by 60. With roughly 20,000 students eligible to vote at the Uni, it’s clear that we can make a difference. And there are so many more of us that are eligible than you may have thought – students from any of the 53 commonwealth nations can register, and British citizens register both at uni and at home. To choose where to vote, use the tool created by The Guardian at tinyurl.com/ggstuvote, to work out where your vote will matter most, and make sure you’re signed up to postal voting so you will be able to vote no matter where you are staying at the time. Registration for postal votes close at 5pm on 26 November, and 5pm on 21 November for those from Northern Ireland. If you’re a home student, and don’t need a postal vote, you have until midnight on 26 November to register. Every vote counts, no matter what party you vote for – even if you turn up to just spoil the ballot, it will boost the stats in terms of young people going to the polling stations, and help put the issues that affect us back on the table. Politicians form their policy based on what’s going to get them votes, so why would they create policies to improve the lives of students if they know students are not reliable voters? In 2017, the student (ages 18-24) turnout was just 53%, while 84% of over 70s voted. Is it any wonder OAPs are getting free TV licenses while we’re being saddled with thousands of pounds of student debt (at least the English amongst you are)?
And it’s not just about boosting turnout – this may be one of the most decisive elections of our generation, and now more than ever it is important that we have elected representatives who will advocate for us in parliament. There are so many things that could be changed by this election, and lives which could be improved or worsened, that it is vital we vote based on all areas of policy, rather than just who is shouting their opinion on Brexit the loudest. However often The Glasgow Guardian gets accused of being a left-leaning, liberal rag, we never align the paper with any official political party (if you think our views section is too left wing, pitch us an article that represents your views!). But we will be doing our best to cover this general election as comprehensively as possible, and keep it focused on all the issues that matter, not just the ones the parties want us to be talking about.
And we’re getting the chance to exercise our right to vote on campus too, with rector nominations being opened and students being given the chance to put forward their suggestions for who they would want to represent them for the next three years. Aamer Anwar was elected the year before I came to Glasgow, yet I remember hearing all about the Milo Yiannopoulos drama all the way down in Manchester – I have no doubt this election will be just as eventful and at The Glasgow Guardian we will be doing as much as we can to keep you in the loop as it unfolds. Rector nominations and elections are the one part of politics where The Glasgow Guardian does get involved and endorse a candidate, so we’ve kicked off nomination season with our recommendation – Greta Thunberg.
While our inspiration for this didn’t come from the various GlasKnow posts about it, it is reassuring to see others are on the same wavelength. We’ve decided to endorse the idea of a symbolic, rather than working, rector because the more we spoke to people on campus and within university staff, the more it became apparent that having a working rector is, in a way, setting yourself up for failure. The job of rector is not paid, so how can we vote in a working member of society and expect them to dedicate their time and energy into representing the student body that they could be putting into their paid job? In that is our other issue with the idea of a working rector – why should we have a “grown-up” come in from the working world to represent us? We already have a student representative in Scott Kirby, and he is paid to advocate for the student body as a full-time job – why would someone with a separate life, job, and far less involvement in the University, be able to do that job better than him? We’re one of only five universities in the world who still have a rector, so clearly it’s not a necessary position.
So that’s why we chose Greta; to send a message to the University and the wider world that not only are students able to advocate for themselves, but also that she represents what the student body cares about; the climate crisis, activism, and speaking out about the issues that will affect us as the people who will be inheriting the planet.
So go out, vote in the General Election, nominate someone for rector, and make sure that your voice is represented as much as it possibly can be. And as always, keep an eye on The Glasgow Guardian for all our coverage of all of the elections.