David Gilani

The Circle of University Life – Elections

4 months later, after the Sabbatical and Trustee Elections, and your new Sabbatical team are ready to get to work for another great year! It was one of the biggest Elections Nights we’ve ever seen here at SUSU; with over 10000 views on SUSUtv and 6543 votes cast (quite a cool number). However, these elections are just a small part of the bigger picture.

The successful Trustee Candidates take to the stage

We have just under 600 elected student officers here at SUSU, which run our Union in every aspect; from representing you on your course; at your halls and private rented accommodation; your welfare and ethical rights; as well as every activity under the sun. With this great student representation, we hold many elections throughout the year, and so it’s very important that each set of elections get enough publicity so that students are free to run and vote, but not so much that students become disenfranchised and apathetic to elections. An extremely hard balance to achieve.


With this in mind, we’re reflecting on how we timetable and publicise elections throughout the year and want to hear your thoughts. Did you hear too much about the Sabbatical Elections last year? Did you know when the Student Leader elections were happening? Did a deadline dissuade you from campaigning / running? Either comment below or email vpcomms@susu.org with your opinions on the timetabling and publicity of specific elections + any suggestions you have of how to improve them for the year ahead.


All your comments will be used in this reflection process and will help shape the discussions at Elections Committee next month.



(Your new Vice-President Communications)

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15 Comments on "The Circle of University Life – Elections"

  1. David
    05/07/2012 at 11:20 am Permalink

    I’m actually quite a fan of SUSU, but I did become very apathetic because there were too many elections! Last year there was only about a week (or so it seemed) when there wasn’t some kind of vote going on. It’s no wonder the number of votes cast during Elections Week was down significantly on 2010 and 2011, as the status of the vote as a unique event was diluted by all the other stuff throughout the year. A friend of mine wondered whether SUSU was planning to run elections for till staff in the SUSU Shop: sadly, he was only half-joking.

  2. David
    05/07/2012 at 4:36 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the comment.

    When you consider elections for JCR, Union Council, Course Reps, Academic Presidents, Student Leader and Sabbatical; it’s easy to see how it takes up so much of the year.

    Do you think it would be beneficial to group some of these elections (e.g. Sabbatical and Student Leader) together? Or would that dilute the impact of them further?

  3. David
    08/07/2012 at 1:02 am Permalink


  4. David
    17/07/2012 at 1:27 am Permalink

    This wouldn’t really be beneficial as many people who didn’t win Sabb positions are now student leaders and are benefiting SUSU in a different way.

  5. David
    18/07/2012 at 11:19 am Permalink

    A great point, Fanon. That’s one of the reasons why we moved the elections for Student Leaders (although back then they were called Executives) away from the Sabbatical elections… and this year we have seen the benefits of it, as you mention.

    Thanks for the comment.

  6. David
    10/07/2012 at 5:17 pm Permalink

    David really glad to see you raising this topic, I agree with Anon there are just far too many elections for too many positions and on too many occassions.

    It was not a good idea to open up more SUSU positions to be voted for by all students. My suggestion is that you concentrate on a core group of position that will be elected annually and have an advertising campaign for all the campuses, once! More democracy does nto equal more elections… you just bore people when you keep coming back to them asking them to vote for the Deputy President for RAG in Faculty of Engineering and the Environment on a Wednesday afternoon….

    For positions like JCR presidents, Academic President I think you should restrict your advertising to the constituents who should vote for these positions. So no more SUSU front page election buttons for JCR elections, rather put posters up in Halls and e-mail students living in those particular halls. LIkewise for Academic Presidents only e-mail the students in those departments and put posters up in the relevant buildings.

  7. David
    12/07/2012 at 12:11 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the feedback, Will.

    I definitely agree that more can be done to target our marketing of elections to only the students who can run and vote in them (as you mention with JCR and Academic Presidents). Our communications team are currently carrying out an audit of our communications channels with students, so we should be in a better position in the coming months to affect specific groups of students.

    With regards to opening up more SUSU positions to be voted for by all, there are positives for this (although I admit I wasn’t in support of some of the changes when they first came around). By having these student leader positions elected ‘cross-campus’ it means that the positions are more accountable to all students. Which makes sense, as all students should be involved (or at least have the opportunity to be involved) in things like Rag, Wessex Scene and Performing Arts. I suppose this is part of a wider discussion, so feel free to email me if you have more thoughts on that.

  8. David
    12/07/2012 at 2:10 pm Permalink

    I approve of the principle that all students *should* be involved in RAG, media outlets, societies etc., but the fact remains that a very limited number actually *are*. Out of curiosity, is there any evidence that opening up such positions to cross-campus elections has led to an increase in student participation? If not, why not reward those who ARE involved and let them pick their own leaders, which is how it used to work?

  9. David
    13/07/2012 at 6:28 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the comment, Colin, and apologies for the late reply.

    In terms of increase in student participation, if we look at the example of SUSU Media (as that’s my background, so I have info for it), the numbers of students involved has dramatically gone up in the last year. However, this hasn’t been necessarily caused by having the heads of those departments elected cross-campus, it could have been due to any number of reasons. I suppose to know that, we’d have to do some research and ask students individually.

    I suppose the argument is that some people can want to make an area of SUSU be better without getting involved in it themselves. E.g. Some people will have an opinion on who will be best to be the societies officer… That Student Leader position has a large budget and therefore should be accountable to every student.

    A contrary argument to that is that they ARE accountable all-year through Union Council, however some people would prefer not to hold them to account that way… so that’s when the cross-campus elections gives all students a chance to have their say.

    As I mentioned before, this is a very wide discussion and I used to feel the other way about it myself. There are points either way.

    Thanks again

  10. David
    28/07/2012 at 11:27 pm Permalink

    Almost as a point of information – the education positions being drawn into this is interesting – because there are reps for every area, every course, every faculty – so by default, each specific position is targeted to each of those, but adding it all up, it turns out to be the whole student body…

  11. David
    17/07/2012 at 1:38 am Permalink

    I think the point in your blog about deadlines being a reason people don’t run is very valid. I know various people who wanted to run and felt as if they needed to concentrate on uni studies. At the same time, I know students who went ahead and ran for a position which they felt passionately about and put their university studies in jeopardy for doing so, due to how much SUSU expect students to campaign and due to a lack of support or undestanding from the university staff themselves.

    I think the glitch which allowed any student to vote for SGH Site Officer was one which definitely should not be repeated.

    There are many elected positions within SUSU and it’s important that each bout of elections has it’s own space to run, however the length of some of the elections is a bit over the top.

  12. David
    18/07/2012 at 11:22 am Permalink

    I wasn’t aware of that glitch with the SGH Site Officer, so I’ll look into that… thanks for mentioning it, Fanon.

    There definitely is a balance to achieve between creating big elections periods, which help the campaign teams reach more of our student population; whilst not encouraging students to undergo incredibly strenuous activities, that could damage their degrees.

    This year, some of the feedback we got from candidates is that the week itself was too long and hence became very stressful, so the democracy team are currently looking at holding the Sabbatical elections over a shorter period.

    Thanks again for the thoughts.


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