We’ve seen the posts on Facebook. We’ve received emails about it sandwiched between event updates and reminders to return that library book that’s been gathering dust for weeks. Yes, my fellow St Andeans, the Students Association Elections are nigh. But how many of us actually spent time reading those posts or emails? Let’s be honest, how many of us actually care? At a time of essay deadlines, class tests, housing paperwork and an array of all-important balls, the Students Association Elections might not be a priority for anyone who isn’t running. Hell, with so many positions only having one candidate, they may not even be a priority for those that are.
And why should they be? No one died for the student vote, to my knowledge at least. We have no St Andrean Emily Davison, no vast protests or history of student liberation movements on the cobbled streets. What’s more, it is sometimes difficult to know who the candidates are or even what the positions they so covet actually do. Despite grand titles like Presidents and Officers, Conveners and Directors, many of us don’t know what these roles entail, much less how they affect us in any way.
It’s not your moral duty to vote. You might even be right to think that some of the positions, and their elected candidates, may not affect you in any real tangible way. While democratic processes around the world are resulting in some unexpected outcomes, it is highly unlikely that we will get a cantaloupe President with a penchant for questionable tweets.
But despite all this, I definitely will be voting this week. And here’s why:
As soon as we arrived in the Bubble, we were confronted by a range of opportunities to get involved in things we would never otherwise have done. Roles and positions were open to us, some that actually entailed responsibility – maybe not a good idea to a group of people who struggled with responsibility for our own livers. But they did it anyway, any many of us found ourselves immersed in new and exciting fields of work, in new and exciting positions throughout all areas of student life.
Such opportunities, though, are far from limited to wide-eyed freshers. “Give it a go,” for instance, is not so much of an initiative at St Andrews, but a mentality that pervades the very culture of this university. Be it balls or ceilidhs, societies or even academic modules, we are all thrown into a world where things are new, and a world that encourages us to embrace them. I myself never thought that I would be writing articles like this or yelling “cultural imperialism” and “neo-colonialism” in a debating competition, trying desperately to appear as if I know what they mean.
This give it a go mentality allows us not only to try new things, but to learn and grow in the process. And it is just as applicable to us as the many candidates running for positions this coming week. Roles of genuine responsibility, where policies can indeed make a difference to the environment we love and share. If you (like many of us) don’t know of their policies or what the roles they’re running for even are, why not research their campaigns and see? It is small compensation for being part of the democratic process and to have your voice heard.
If you don’t vote, the reality is that that the social fabric of St Andrews won’t fall apart. Your life will probably not drastically change. But you will not only deny yourself the opportunity to make your opinion count, you may deny a decent, hard-working candidate the ability to make the changes you most want to see in our shared community.
That’s why I’ll be voting in the election. Will you?