2017 SU Officer Elections: Knowledge Doesn’t Always Lead to Power

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The SU election time is upon us again and voting is almost over. There have been attempts by all of the candidates to come across with new and innovative ideas to tackle the problems facing students – some faring better than others. It was clear who was more comfortable with policy and management structure, while others floundered with basic knowledge of the SU.

There have been stand out proposals from Jason Saldana running for President, for sleeping pods and 24- hour food services, specifically hot food, which would be a blessing for those who pull all nighters frequently but presents many obstacles in its implementation. It may be added to the long list of other suggestions that have fallen by the way side like the ski lift from the JK era. Nevertheless, ambitious.

Housing, a topic never far from anyone’s mind. With many other issues stemming from the same, such as discrimination towards international students, letting agency fees, and most importantly the lack of housing. Candidate for community, Izzy Green’s suggestion of an SU letting agency was new and and interesting take to what students have to undergo, but it remains to be seen the development of such an idea in practice. It will be interesting to see how the new policy passed for the international student guarantor will work in the coming years. It was seen as a huge step in the right direction and a helping hand for international students like me. Candidates for president were also grilled in alternative ways of solving the housing issue, like new accommodation in Trowbridge. All were unanimous in support of the idea but also in the necessity to focus on the logistics in involved such as transport for the students and the length of travel

Other topics such as increasing communication and engagement of students with the SU with the utilisation of general assemblies as suggested by President candidate Hughes and Jason. Historically they are difficult to maintain long- term engagement with and have failed in the past. Neither candidates were able to provide solutions to increase engagement, it came across as more of a token service to the students rather than a tangible long standing solution.

During Q2C’s Jev touched upon how the management of the University may come across as ‘out of touch’ to students, while also stating that it is important to maintain a good relationship with the University in order to achieve our aims. This is a sentiment shared by many across campus and brought up annually by presidential candidates, yet little was said on what measures would be taken to actually tackle the issue. With his experience Ben took a more nuanced approach speaking on how much of the action happens behind the scenes and why this often goes unnoticed.

It was clear that the candidates across the board had varying levels of experience and knowledge that they would be able to bring to aid the students should they be elected. From incumbent officer Ben to extensive campaigner Meg Murphy (Education) to second year Julie (Community) who has a breadth of experience, these candidates do have the necessary knowledge to put them in good stead for their position. Whether that knowledge will be put to good use is still unclear.

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Alisha Lobo is News & Comment Editor at bathimpact (2015/16). She writes about international politics and society. She is a reporter on University of Bath issues, including education and the Students' Union.

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