By the end of Week Seven I found it’s impossible to walk a single step along the spine without coming face-to-face with the witty, creative and sometimes frankly garish campaign posters plastered in every available space. For all the creativity and wit of these posters though, many of them do not even mention or have any relevance to the position the candidate they promote is standing for. They exist simply to get the name of the candidate into the minds of students without leaving any substance behind them.
I am all for having a creative and witty campaign to grab the attention of those apathetic students who don’t have much interest in student politics or those who are actually running. Of course those running have to get their names out there to get those votes, but my issue is really when substance is entirely pushed aside in favour of witty catchphrases and slogans that are totally irrelevant to the position the candidate is running for.
Those candidates with this kind of campaign poster also often add that I like to describe as shine to their husts. They are charismatic individuals who are probably already very popular within their college, winning them votes before they have even started. But when students go to vote are they, and more importantly should they, be voting for a personality rather than on actually merit, experience and suitability of the candidate for the position.
When it comes down to voting, students I spoke to who actually voted and only so because they are or were involved in LUSU or JCRs or had friends were running. It is always those names that seem most familiar for whatever reason that win the vote. For the students that actually get onto the voting website there is an endless list of names, many of which you will be unfamiliar with, which will result in you choosing just the name that stands out, the name related to the poster that made you giggle to yourself on your way to your lecture, the random student you met on a night out who told you to vote for them, just those little glimpses and associations which make you click on that name and give them your vote. There’s not often much of an educated choice involved, it is for most simply based on the poster or campaign that caught their eye for that split second longer than the rest.
Having said that, this isn’t parliament: this is Lancaster University. We aren’t MPs: we are students. Should this all be taken so seriously? If we vote purely because someone made a good poster, or speaks well but perhaps hasn’t got as much experience as those running against them with less witty slogan, is it really such a bad thing? If those voted into those positions aren’t completing their responsibilities once in the role they can always be dismissed. So as long as the elections are far and square I’m quite happy to be entertained by whatever witty slogans and wacky pictures the posters on the spine throw at me.