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Why are student union elections so important?

By Jordan Hunter

Editor-in-Chief Jordan Hunter encourages readers to take an interest in this year’s union elections. 

Let’s be honest, most people don’t pay attention to university elections. Many of you probably wouldn’t recognise most of the people on the board of any of the unions or be able to name most of the SRC executives. The only time you might have seen them is at the Freshers’ Address, or when one of them kicked you out of Hive when you got out of control. Nevertheless, they serve a vital role in your daily life.

Those elected have a job to help you in many different services, and in the case of the QMU president, GUSA president, and SRC sabbatical officers, are literally paid a full salary to do just that. Even unpaid positions spend hundreds of hours in committees, organising, planning, and voicing opinions on your behalf. Many of your university highlights are because of these people; Hive nights and Daft Friday are planned by GUU’s board, QMU’s gigs are organised by their board, and GUSA helps determine gym fees. 

The SRC is more important than you may think. “No Detriment” was implemented last year because of the SRC’s lobbying. The SRC, and the student unions, stepped up to the plate when halls were locked down and assisted in giving food and PPE to those isolating. If you’ve taken an in-person exam, you might wonder, “who exactly is the senate I will be reported to if I get caught cheating?” Well, surprise – it’s composed of people from the SRC, staff, and the principal. You used to pay a fee for graduation, but thanks to the SRC, that’s no longer the case. 

This year, more than ever, it’s important to pay attention to these elections. They will be responsible for determining how we transition out of the pandemic, what support the University will give, and may be part of the discussions about when we might be able to go back in person. Also, you might have noticed that we don’t have a rector at the moment. This means that at the University’s highest body, the University Court, there is only one person elected by students, and that is the SRC president. Last year, unions had to grapple with furloughs and layoffs as a result of the pandemic. The new presidents will probably be in charge of restructuring and rehiring in a post-Covid world.

Many of you reading this article might already understand all of this, but also fall into the trap of trying to just elect your friends or that person you vaguely know. We’ve all done it, there are so many people to vote for and just so little time to read the manifestos and watch the interviews done by The Glasgow Guardian, but it’s imperative that we do it. When you think of who you’re voting for, think: Would I pay them to help manage hundreds of thousands of pounds? Would I want this person deciding if I got suspended or expelled? Do I trust this person to run a pub or gym like a functioning business? Do I trust this person to manage people’s jobs? 

Now, this understandably is a huge undertaking, and you may still be unsure if you trust anyone with any of these positions. There is no shame in abstaining if you simply are not sure or don’t wish to put in the time to read everything. However, we all should put forth more of an effort to make sure we get responsible and accessible people into these positions so that we can have our voice heard and have a better university experience. If you believe that you’re up for the job and responsibility, don’t be afraid to run and have your voice heard!

Editorial note: There is a second student on the University Court, the SRC court assessor, but they are chosen by the Student Representatives’ Council and not directly elected.


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