Comment writer Zoe Olukoga considers where the voice of opposition comes from today, and how necessary it isWritten by Redbrick on 18th February 2017
Two weeks of tedium…
As a final-year student, the Guild is something I chose to be a part of
As a final-year student, the Guild is something I chose to be a part of. It is a vehicle for extra-curricular activities: hobbies or just frantic attempts to enhance one’s CV, and a place that hosts a variety of corporate, over-priced food vendors. Despite what it claims to be, I have never felt that I was automatically involved in the Guild in virtue of being a student.
By this point, nobody is a stranger to Guild officer elections. This is the time of year when you really feel that the Guild is actively making a bid for your involvement. However, the election period is unique in this sense. Once voting is over, I am not bombarded with emails forwarded by my department; if I want to know about the effects of the change in office, or anything about the Guild in fact, I have to find out myself.
Officers are all too eager to tell us what they are going to do (complete with ambushes en route to the library and campaign debris all over campus), but far less so to tell us what they have done. All this lack of communication serves to do is to widen the already perceived distance between Guild and university.
Most of us are willing to endure the two-week circus of campaigning – student democracy is what it is and all that. This includes the particularly annoying interruptions to lectures: students making desperate attempts to get us to remember them so that when it comes to voting, we will think “oh yeah, that wally that danced around for five minutes in a stupid costume…well I can’t remember any of the other candidates doing that, so he gets my vote” (The sad irony here is that I can remember all of the candidates making similar substance-less bids for votes). That said, I would be more likely to actually care what happens to the Guild when I leave if its goings-on had been communicated to me beyond the campaign period each year. Most final- year students will have left university by the time the new officers take over. This is not to say that they don’t care about what happens to the university when they leave, but needless to say, most of them value uninterrupted lecture-time more than cheaper drinks at Joe’s for next year’s students.
The reason that nobody other than those running and their entourage actually welcome the campaigning period is because, to most of us, the Guild is not inherently connected with our education. Longer library opening hours – fantastic, but with five colleges comprising numerous schools, how do officers propose that it is better to have them campaign for privileges such as printing credits, when we could simply raise concerns with our department? Perhaps I have just been extremely lucky in that the two schools I belong to (EDACS and PTR) welcome feedback and act upon it. In fact, perhaps only as a last bid for good student survey results, all students in EDACS were given printing allowance in response to comments through the school feedback system. Generally, departments are eager for student satisfaction since it directly affects their ranking. I fail to see how a Guild officer could have a bigger effect on each individual department than its existing system or departmental representative.
I am not saying that the Guild has no impact on our education, but that whatever impact that it does have is certainly not obvious to most students, and not communicated as effectively as departmental alterations are. If we are to warmly embrace our lectures and time on campus being interrupted by campaigns in the first place, the connection between the Guild and our education must be better established.
Written by Rachel Moriarty