How to survive student elections

How to survive student elections

What’s this? Posters covering every available public space? Keen students running up to you with iPads? An email from UCLU (check your spam)? Must be election season!


Here at Pi, we seasoned, jaded political editors have compiled some advice to help steer you through this tumultuous time in a young student’s university life.

Who are these elections for?

These elections are for posts in UCLU – for the Women’s Officer, the Activities Officer, the Disabled Student’s Officer, etc. They’re pretty important – some of them are paid £26,000 for their year’s worth of work. And while plenty of us can go through our university life happily ignorant of UCLU’s existence, many students need a good Union to represent them.

Who is RON?

RON is a candidate for every post in every election, but it’s not some super-keen postgrad: RON stands for Re-Open Nomination. Vote for RON and you’ll show your dissatisfaction for whoever the other candidates are. If RON gets the majority of votes in a category, nominations for the post will be re-opened. We expect RON to win quite a few categories this year – many posts only have one candidate (for example the Arts Officer, LGBTQ+ Officer, the Women’s Officer and the Union Chair) and some have none (eg the Disabled Student’s Officer).

What to do if a creep comes up to you with an iPad

Picture the scene: you’re in a café/ the library/ the quad. You’re alone. You hear footsteps behind you. You turn around: loping towards you is a young student with an iPad in their hand and a glint in their eye.

These young politicos will give you their iPad and give you a wonderful chance to vote right away, without the bother of taking the time out of your day to open your computer, log in, and peruse a (sadly very short) list of candidates. These people are trying to get you to vote for their candidate.

This is pretty controversial issue. Encouraging people to vote isn’t against the rules, but encouragement all too easily becomes harassment, which is not allowed – in the past two elections, candidates have had a percentage of their vote taken away for this (though this rarely prevents these candidates from winning). The line between the two can be thin. Worse, there have been instances of  these people keeping a voter logged-in without their knowledge and casting votes for whoever they like. So, what should you do if one of these helpful people come up to you?

Of course, you could just assume they’re helpful strangers with a passion for student politics and aren’t going to try to push you to vote for their candidate. You’d probably be wrong though. So: a simple “fuck off” is always effective if you’re in a hurry, but if you’ve got the time why not try something a little more inventive? An ear-piercing scream is always fun. If your falsetto isn’t up to scratch, yelling “STRANGER DANGER” will also suffice. If you’re vindictive like us, you’ll take their iPad and vote in every category for whoever their candidate isn’t (which in most cases will probably just be RON).

Go vote!

So, let’s get out there and vote! Turnout was a healthy 12% last year, let’s see if we can’t get that up to 15% this time!

Correction: This article originally reported that there were no candidates for Women’s Officer. There is, in fact, one. Also, we initially reported that coming up to someone with an iPad and getting them to vote was against the rules. It is only against the rules when it becomes harassment. We’ve updated the article to reflect this. Sorry. 

Featured Image: John Bilton

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    February 26, 2017 / 11:52 pm

    So, I loathe the dominance of voter harassment in these elections too, but there are some basic factual inaccuracies in this article that kind of need clearing up.

    Crucially, approaching a voter with an iPad is not against the rules (more’s the pity – some people have tried to propose a ban on doing this, but sadly it was voted down) – what previous candidates were penalised for was A. taking a voter’s logged-in iPad and casting votes for whoever they liked without even asking the voter(!!) and B. crossing the line from encouragement to vote, to outright and persistent harassment. And the Women’s Officer election doesn’t have no candidates.

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