By Robyn Banks
Jo Swo, UEA Student Union’s Welfare Officer, bit a bouncer at the LCR. Social media went haywire, the anti-SU brigade had a field day and The Tab published no less than five articles on the subject. A motion was put to union council for a vote of no confidence, which, if passed, would have resulted in her being removed from her position, but the motion was then withdrawn and it was a controversy. In a surprising plot twist an online petition was started to create a safe space for bouncers on campus. Then the council voted to censure Jo, a public condemning of her behaviour which doesn’t directly affect her position. Some people were happy, some people were angry, somebody started another petition to reinstate the vote of no confidence in Jo, and there was apparently a lot of excitement on all sides. One tab article even successfully mimicked a crime thriller with its dramatic depiction of the council meeting. However, after a long time watching from the side lines as one of UEA’s female full time officers was subjected to a barrage of seemingly groundless abuse, one comment in particular stood out to me:Continue Reading
by Sam Naylor
It’s over, people. Candidates and students alike will be breathing deep the post-election buzz. Well not everyone and probably not even most people. Though a record breaking year for UEA elections, still only 23% of those who could vote did — there was a total of 3404 votes. Granted this is student elections and across the country it appears engagement at this level is struggling to grab the majority’s interest but it still supposes a democratic deficit. Negativity aside for a sentence, it was great to see the highest turn out ever for the voluntary position of Ethical Issues officer. However, letting the gloom resume, the positions for mature and post-graduate students received a shockingly low turnout — only a 7% turnout for mature students and an even lower 4% turnout for post-graduate students. This begs to question: are our democratic procedures within university effective?
Without diminishing the achievements of candidates, student elections are in part a glorified popularity contest. Policies are an important aspect of the elections, but people play a much larger part of the parcel. You know how it is — voting for friends, or friends of friends or that girl that you met at a house party once and she kind of seemed like a decent human being. I can’t see a way for this to move beyond the realm of people politics or the ‘Union Bubble’ with its internal divisions and machinations.Continue Reading