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Being able to use your own voice and have it heard and listened to is what the Students’ Union prides itself on. Every single member of LUSU is valued and has the right to voice their own opinions, regardless of who they are and what position they hold. Until now, the current Full Time Officers (FTOs) have not been allowed to aid candidates in LUSU Elections in any way, shape or form. But that has all changed. FTOs are finally now allowed to support candidates running in the elections and give their opinions on the matter. They can talk to candidates and be a part of their campaigning, whether it’s advising candidates on their campaign policy or even just sticking up a few posters – it’s certainly a move in the right direction for LUSU.
Allowing FTOs to support candidates in the LUSU Elections will provide a more effective crossover when the people change over. Candidates will be able to talk to the FTOs, the people who have been there and done it, the people who can tell them what it’s really like to work for LUSU and what they really need to do the job properly. Not only that, but candidates will also have access to what actually works in campaigning – they may never have put a campaign into action before, and surely by allowing FTOs to help, candidates will have more guidance on how to move forward and, most importantly, how to get the most votes.
The argument that this move to allow FTOs to support candidates compromises democracy is unfounded. FTOs have some of the toughest and busiest jobs within the university and, believe it or not, they will still care about LUSU after they leave their positions. They should be able to give their own opinions on the potential incoming FTOs and publicise their opinions as much as they want. After all, free speech is the basic foundation of democracy which has previously been forbidden for FTOs.
Every member of LUSU cares about who runs the union, and what we don’t want is a reckless campaigner to win lots of votes when they don’t have a solid policy behind them. By allowing FTOs to show support for certain candidates who they believe will do a good job, they will consequently help to prevent something like that from happening. Also, let’s face it – campaigning to win votes requires as many hands as you can get. FTOs won’t just choose a random candidate to support for the sake of it; they know exactly what the job entails and so will support the right people for the job. If FTOs want to support someone by helping to put up posters or come up with a policy people will buy, then they can; surely that is what democracy is all about.
It’s not right to exclude FTOs from the election process. Over the past year, the FTOs have done a fantastic job and have put blood, sweat and tears into making LUSU the fantastic organisation that it is. As they say goodbye to their roles, it’s only fair that they are rewarded by encouraging and guiding the candidates who will potentially take over. If the new move gets more people involved in LUSU elections, then that can only be a good thing. Everyone can now have their say, regardless of whether they are an FTO or not.