So, it’s election time again. Voting closes on Friday at Birkbeck and ULU, more at the website.
Election time is a stressful nightmare. If I didn’t find it worthwhile, and I didn’t genuinely love student politics and want to help people – I wouldn’t do it. I’d do some other job, where I got paid more and had more time to relax. Preferably with cake. I’m re-standing in my current role (Disabled Members Officer) and also for Women’s Officer. I will be indicating a preference at a later date because I obviously can’t be both simultaneously. Anyway, I’ve been finding this – my fourth election period at Birkbeck (two by-elections and this is second annual election) – more difficult and scary than previously. So here are the ground rules I have, the do’s, don’ts and arghs that I’m feeling the need for. These aren’t real rules, just mine.
1. Don’t broadcast. No telling the world you hate x, nobody should vote for them, they are a disgrace. This may be your view. Maybe if you feel the need you could tell your friends, but everyone will have different experiences of x. Your judgement could be coloured by all sorts of personal stuff, and is it really right that this x should suffer if they’ve done nothing wrong? There are exceptions to this – if they’re a fascist/ rapist/ majorly bad person in that sort of way, then you should get the word out because they could be in a position to do serious harm.
2. If you’ve been rubbish as an officer, don’t act like you know it all, you’re amazing,or quiz others. You misused your role, you cannot have the right to judge other officers.
3. Don’t make it all about outside politics. You might have voted for the same MP as the officer candidate, but that doesn’t mean this person has all the same priorities as you.
4. Continuing from number 3, you may well find that you like being part of a political faction. Sure it’s great if it works well for you. But don’t ostracise others. Don’t exclude, scare, and put off other people by your cliquey tendencies.
5. Don’t expect everyone else to do it like you do. There is space for all forms of campaigning.
6. Don’t be afraid to vote for Re-open Nominations, if you don’t feel the candidates are suited to your priorities.
7. Don’t force other people to vote you in, or allow yourself to be forced by others. You have the right to choose who you want to vote for, to educate yourself about those standing for election before you make your decision.
8. Don’t be nasty to people when they say they can’t nominate you/ aren’t voting for you. It’s their right, and it doesn’t mean they hate you/ don’t want to be your friend.
9. Disagreements about student politics should not prevent people liking each other and getting on.
So basically, don’t be horrible – and please vote, increase student representation in our unions.
In the University of London? Here’s a few events you may like the look of.
London Student Tenants’ Union planning meeting. All students and union types welcome. Have issues with rents? Feel the need to join a group of hardworking types and figure housing problems out? Here’s your chance. Email michael.chessum @ ulu.lon.ac.uk or check out the facebook event.
Come to my very own college to join the Anti-Fascism & Anti-Racism campaign and learn about Zapatista women. Facebook event here.
Join SURHUL‘s Student Worker Campaign for rights, pay and conditions. See poster.
Do note that the NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign Conference is coming up fast, as is the registration deadline. If no one is representing your university, why not? Register at NUS Connect now.
I’m well into my seventh month in office as Women’s Officer within the University of Stirling Students’ Union and ‘walk in the park’ is not the phrase I would use to describe the year so far! Having been involved with the wider student movement since coming to university in 2009, I am something of a seasoned veteran to campaigning and activism. However, compared to any other project I have embarked upon (being Chair of various societies, being NUS Delegate for two years or being the ’11-’12 Communities Officer), Women’s Officer is the most challenging, most inspiring, most emotionally draining, most empowering, most stressful task I have undertaken in my life. The learning curve has been more of a learning spike, even for a well-versed feminist such as myself.
Since taking office, I have run a number of campaigns, the most notable of which was the Anti-Victim Blaming campaign of the Autumn…
Seen this paper? It’s Hot Courses, purveyor of giant prospectuses (prospecti?), catalogues of all the courses you never imagined, sometimes given away free in libraries but often sold in newsagents for silly amounts of money. Like £4.
I was rather amused yesterday when dashing into the underground station, heading to class. I was tempted to tell the bloke that I’ve already got a place at Birkbeck! It’s changed my life, at any rate.
I was about to try and get some sleep in between points of essay panic, but I became distracted. Not that this is a surprise, of course…
I saw the following tweet on twitter:
“i really wanna get into birkbeck because it means night classes, starts in october, and only 4 classes per week”
Four classes a week. Picture your week. Take out, say, Saturday and Sunday nights as the weekend. Remove four other nights from your week. These are your for class nights. You have one night left. Now find 10-20 hours per week for your home study time. Consider that you probably can’t use your days, because you’re: (pick all that apply)
Taking care of someone/s who demand/a your full attention.
Taking care of yourself.
Think about how tired you may be on your average evening. Think about how you will feel after an extra three hours of class, plus commute, on top of your regular tiredness. Think about what you’re giving up. Hobbies, friends, time with your family, watching TV… What is it you currently do with those 10-20 + commute + 12 hours, each week? How would you cope without those hours?
Evening classes aren’t an easy ride. If you don’t want to be one of those people who attend the first few classes and then disappear, you need dedication. You need determination. You need to really want to do this. The ‘only four classes’ mentality won’t get you far.
A media moment for Birkbeck today. I was sitting in my kitchen with half an ear to the radio, when I heard a familiar name. Orlando Figes, Professor of History at Birkbeck, was discussing the removal of Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum. I had a ‘yay, that’s my university’ moment.
(Mini back story, assisted by Times) Michael Gove said children were leaving school with a sub-standard knowledge of their country’s past, so the school curriculum is being revamped. It’s all about kings and wars in Britain now. Personally I got a fair amount of heavily British history at school myself. I only knew of the existence of other countries because I read books. I think we lose a lot by extracting figures like Seacole, Nightingale and Fry from the National Curriculum. History is Britain-and-male skewed sufficiently already.
Philip Davies, a Conservative MP, told The Mail on Sunday that the changes to the curriculum would make children “proud of their country”.
Full Times article.
Orlando Figes on twitter.
Listen to all of the radio programme here. The related part is towards the end.
Yes, we are having elections again. By-elections this time. Just letting you know, internet. So, we’re already into the voting days I’m afraid. I’ve been feeling ill and not been able to go on about these elections as much as I should have done. Hope some Birkbeck people will read this. Voting is at http://www.birkbeckelections.com until noon on Thursday 22nd.
I am currently in the second year of my BA in Arts & Humanities at Birkbeck. I’ve been involved in the Students’ Union from the start, last year as Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism Officer and currently as Disabled Members’ Officer. This is an executive role, meaning more meetings and training which I find helpful. I spend more time than ever at Birkbeck or corresponding with students and other officers offsite. Participating in student activities is very important to me and I am concerned with student issues and having the voice of the student population heard. I would very much like to further my involvement in student issues by attending the national NUS conference. My presence at conference would help me continue to build existing networks with officers at local and national unions. Learning from contact with fellow officers is particularly crucial in the under-represented four liberation campaigns. I identify into LGBT and Women’s liberation groups – as well as my own Disabled Members Campaign – and serve on the related committees here at Birkbeck Students’ Union.
I am particularly interested in the NUS National Conference, as it is larger and more all-encompassing than the individual smaller conferences (Women’s, LGBT, etc). I attended NUS Women’s Conference in 2012, and found it inspiring. I would like to hear about and learn from the perspectives of a wide range of students, as well as making contact with students and officers who have commonalities with us at Birbeck. The journey and overnight stay involved in conferences also means teamwork, which is a constant and constructive process between the four delegates who go together. I feel strongly that anyone representing Birkbeck on the national stage must do so appropriately, know our union thoroughly, and return from conferences with valuable lessons to impart to council.
Hustings probably Monday 19th from 9pm, but I’ll edit to confirm.