The incoming Student Living Officer, Lucky Dube, lifts the lid on campaigning and student democracy in his first piece since election triumph.
Politics amongst our generation, and especially at this university, is something of a touchy subject. Discussion of political matters, unless one is amongst political junkies, as David Starkey would call them, are something to be avoided: they almost always end in some kind of division. They very seldom end with a feeling, on the part of either participant, that they know more about the other person. To hear an opposing view to your own is to be exposed to another way of thinking.
A way of thinking that has come about through a culmination of experiences to which you are unlikely to be accustomed. In a successful discussion of political matters, what results is a coming together of sorts. When you hear an opposing opinion, you think as the other person does, and , more importantly, you feel as they do. The discussion is thus means by which we utilise our faculty for empathy.
Discussions of this kind are quite hard to come by when discussing either national political issues or abstract principles. This is most likely due to the fact that, as students, being isolated from ordinary society, we have no stake in ‘issues’: we do not work, we don’t rely heavily on services provided by the council, we have, apart from uni work, no serious responsibilities. I did recently achieve the ideal that I’ve described as I spent the best part of a week and a half discussing political matters with students, most of whom I had never met.
I ran for election to a sabbatical position in the Student’s Union: I was successful, but what struck me was the strength and passion with which many students talked about their experiences. What I was taking part in was politics of a different sort as the discussions I had were chiefly concerned with our university. A university, I realised, that forms a society in microcosm. A society in which many, outside of work, deal with stress, mental illness, trauma, and other things for which our institution if changed could mitigate the effects of.
One imagines that being on the campaign trial involves much physical exertion, constant considerations of policy promises, and issues concerning public relations. I, and my campaign team, did walk more around the campus in a week than we would in several weeks, we spent hours reading reports and talking to people to inform our policies, and we unsurprisingly spent much time discussing the image we wanted to portray to the electorate. That much, and that kind of, work brings with it a kind of exhaustion that I have never experienced.
It is a fulfilling experience, one that I will always remember, and one that I will most likely repeat.
My faculties for humour, loquacity, charm (believe it or not), exhausted on the campaign trail now exist in a state similar to that of a person with limited training, after running a marathon. My neutral countenance, muteness, and occasional mumbling will, I trust, soon correct itself. One feels, campaigning for these elections, every emotion with the most ferocious intensity and occasionally pangs for the quiet life that I enjoyed before deciding to run. It is a fulfilling experience, one that I will always remember, and one that I will most likely repeat. It is an experience that I very much recommend to anyone that has the chance to do it.
Have you got any thoughts about the SU elections? Get in touch.