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It’s nearing that time again when we vote for those who will represent us within LUSU, the Full Time Officers, that mysterious group of people who span that gap between students and the Union. By the end of Week Six we will know who is running for each position and we get to choose those who we want to represent us two weeks later. At the moment all except one of the Full Time Officers has graduated. So why is it that second year undergraduate students generally don’t win or even run for these positions?
Do second year students feel they are not experienced or qualified enough for such a role? You have only been at university for a year and a half, you may or may not have got involved with JCRs, LUSU or societies, so the responsibility of being a Full Time Officer may seem like a massive load to take on?
You may be one of those people who is involved in every society going, is on the JCR and probably writes for SCAN and the college magazine in your spare time and has done so from day one of university but you’ve only had one and a bit years of this, and is that really enough experience to take on such a role?
Well, most of us are only here for three or four years anyway so how much experience are you ever going to gain; there is always going to be a limit on how much experience any of us will have with LUSU and the best way to gain it would be being in that position.
If your thinking now that you haven’t been that involved in the workings of the university over the past year, inexperience is definitely not an excuse. If you feel that your lack of knowledge of LUSU or societies for example would hold you back when running for a position what is stopping you learning, speaking to people and getting that experience, there are still several week until nominations, plenty of time to get a campaign together.
It’s hugely important to a have a range of students running for the position, second year, third year and postgraduate students, in-order to be truly representative of the student body as a whole.
Second year students bring a new perspective to LUSU as they are most submersed amongst the students and will return to be a student after they finish as Full Time Officer. Those running in their third or fourth year will be an officer at a time when most of their friends have graduated and most will not return to university as a student the following year.
But students who run in their second year will still have a large majority of their friendship group at university so have a more personal connection to the students they aim to represent. Also they will be returning to university the following year as a student, so the decisions they make when in their role will have a real effect on their own education and university life. Therefore when it comes to the end of the year and some officers may be not enthusiastic as they previously were or have arguably more pressing responsibilities such as finding themselves a job after they leave, the student who is returning will still be as enthusiastic as ever because they can see the real effects of their actions and will have to deal with the aftermath of any bad move made when they return for their third year.
There is also a number of perks to running for the position in your second year of university. The two week campaign leading up to elections is a massive time and work commitment. There is the unofficial figure that those running drop a whole grade due to the work put in during this time, so it can be catastrophic to those running in their third year with the mounting pressure of dissertations and final exams looming. Running in your second year when the work load is less means that you can both have the experience of being a Full Time Officer and achieve top grades when you graduate, having your cake and eating it.
I mean no offence to the students currently in the Full Time Officers positions but simply mean to say that when the candidates are announced I hope to see a wide range of students running for the positions. Even those with less experience are just as valuable and important to the overall structure as those who have been involved with LUSU for years. If nothing else I can testify that campaigning is a lot of fun, if also a lot of hard work, and well worth doing for that experience alone.