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Findings of a Fresher 05/03/19

Kirsten Murray on the madness of her first YUSU election

I have now experienced my first year of YUSU elections and York certainly takes it seriously! Everywhere I turned I was faced with posters, my Facebook feed was filled with videos and I had a constant stream of emails reminding me to vote. As a voter, I felt I couldn’t escape from the build-up, so I cannot imagine the intensity the candidates must have experienced as they campaigned in person, online and through all forms of media.

Since coming to university, I have genuinely felt like part of a community, however this election elevated it to a whole new level. I can honestly say it seems that the candidates campaigned harder than old Theresa May and Jezza Corbyn did in the last General Election. Perhaps our politicians should try enticing the nation to vote by also promising to reduce the price of alcohol by 10p per thousand votes? I really think it would be a winning tactic. The efforts made within the two weeks of campaigning were rather amazing, and at times I did want to remind candidates that they weren’t going to be made Activities Officer of the Country, just of the York University bubble. I reached the point of promising to vote for anyone, I just wanted them to stop invading the RKC during dinner time and allow me to return my attention to my lasagne. Even our flat was invaded with personally written cards asking us to “Vote X” that inevitably would end up being tossed in the bin.

For a moment the number of cardboard signs almost outnumbered the number of geese, as every pillar, tree and gate was embellished with signs battling for votes. I swear I overheard someone advising a candidate on the best tactics for “pinning a sign up” and when god forbid someone covered your sign with theirs... this could only mean war. Candidates even managed to pop up in lectures, utilising the 20 seconds they each had available to plug their manifesto. One lecturer perhaps inadvertently shared his opinion of the candidates presented to him as he told the students that “there are other candidates available.” He obviously felt the need to reassure the lecture hall not to worry, other candidates were avail- able, not all hope was lost.

I felt like I was transported to District 12 of the Hunger Games during my stint in the library on Friday afternoon when, as the clock struck three, James Durcan’s voice boomed across the speaker, like President Snow’s himself, reminding us all that only an hour of voting remained. The silence of the library had been broken, these elections must be important, it was time for me to vote. Ranking the candidates was a rather tiring task, I knew who I wanted to rank as first or second, but once it got to the fifth and sixth option I didn’t really care anymore. Why couldn’t we have just ticked one box? With the rest of the election campaign mirroring the general election, why couldn’t voting have been as simple?!

There does seem to be a divide on campus between those keen voters, who wholeheartedly believe that YUSU makes a difference, and those who question whether anyone actually cares.

I can only conclude by saying good luck to our new officers I hope they now exercise their manifestos with the rigorousness with which they removed their cardboard signs– we love their dedication to cleaning the campus. We raised an amazing £3000 for charity and reduced the price of campus pints – epitomising what a community can achieve when it binds together. We can, however, all agree that we are secretly mourning the loss of a travelator between Fairhurst and Morrell, never knowing what direction it would have travelled in...

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