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So, you want to become one of six full-time, paid officers for your Student’s Union? Marvellous! There is nothing more fun than slinging your degree and sleeping patterns into the back seat for two weeks whilst you spend day after day perfecting your manifesto, putting posters in unreachable places, accosting people on the spine, taking question after question, enduring meeting after meeting, convincing person after person after society after JCR to love and adore you enough to vote for you as their number one choice… Ok, it’s probably not so fun, and the entire process will be tainted with futility if you lose. But fear not! There are do’s and there are don’ts, and if you follow them, then that £17,000 a year dream will be that little bit closer to reality.
DO – Have policies. Simple, right? And yet, this year and the last, there are many manifestos that say little when they look like they do. ‘Policies’ such as “improving communication” are a prime example of this. You can spot what is a non-policy, and basically a rewording of the job description, by flipping it over. What is the opposite of ‘improving communication’? ‘Not improving communication’? Who is running on that policy, exactly? Voters want the ‘what?’, certainly, but the ‘how?’ is far more important.
DON’T – Have no policies whatsoever. It’s one thing to run on buzzwords, it’s another to have nothing at all to offer. This not only makes you look completely casual about the entire affair, but it’s a massive pain in the arse for the poor interviewer from SCAN who has to write 450 words on what little you’ve said in your interview, or the frustrated Bailrigg FM interviewer who has a whole hour to fill. Being “enthusiastic” and “wanting to do my job well” simply won’t cut the voter’s mustard, I’m afraid.
DO – Have experience! It does say, in the offered guidelines before you stand, that LUSU experience is not necessary. Unfortunately, though, it is. You don’t have to have sat on a council or a JCR or a chair with ‘LUSU’ printed on it, of course – experience in an ‘official’ capacity isn’t required, but if you’ve no knowledge of LUSU and the students, take a hike.
DON’T – Presume that experience outside LUSU will mean anything whatsoever. Supposing you’re running for EWD officer; you’ve no experience of LU based issues, but you started a national charity? Big whoop. You’re running for SCAN editor; you’ve never written for SCAN in your life, but you were once assistant editor of the Daily Mail? Massive wow. If you’ve no knowledge of the campus specific issues, then it’s unlikely that people will trust you to do a good job.
DO – Be popular! Not in the sense that you are invited for drinks every night because you’re such a hilarious party animal, of course. Popular, in that your face is out there and your work is known. This is something that should be built up over the course of at least a year – if you have been seen to be an effective SCAN writer, then the presupposition will be that you’re a prime candidate for the SCAN editor position. The same goes for the other positions.
DON’T – Rest on popularity alone. If you’ve done mounds of work in the past for the university, don’t expect that to help you walk it through the elections. People will remember your work, but they may not remember you. Your face needs to be burnt into people’s retinas and your policies need to be stamped in the deepest treks of people’s brains. Otherwise, you’ve every chance of losing to the inferior candidate with the superior posters.
DO – Be nice and polite and well turned out! This means avoiding aggressive campaigning. Attacking your opponents on a public debating forum on the basis of their ideas is absolutely fine. Defaced posters, derogatory graffiti and personal slurs are a sorry sight to see. Also, it’s not very sportsman-like now, is it?
DON’T – Be a pain. ‘Being a pain’ comes about it many different ways. If you’re spamming people via email or in person when they just want to enjoy a quiet drink, that’s being a pain. If you’re proving difficult to get hold of for an interview, that’s being a pain. If you’re very difficult to listen to because you haven’t thought your policies through, that’s being a pain. If you’re rude to the people you’re speaking to, that’s being a pain. Just don’t be a pain.
DO – Be contrary, and have something to say! Last year, a certain candidate for a certain role had a hustings debate which basically consisted of him agreeing with his opponent. Don’t just say ‘I agree’. You look inferior, like you’re grasping at other ideas because you’ve none of your own.
And there we have it! Follow my guide to the absolute letter, and there is no chance whatsoever of you failing to win 100% of the vote!