Saturday, March 6, 2010

Less Chalk, More Talk. Election Reform for NUIM

While this years Election was by far the most engaging in a long time, it still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of efficiency and fair play. In order to ensure increased engagement with the democratic electoral process by students, next year's Exec should seriously consider making some changes to both candidates campaigning and in the fairness of the counting process.

Campaigning, while it brings a certain amount of renewed vibrancy to the average college day, over a few weeks can certainly become annoying to the average student. Having the same leaflets constantly shoved in your direction over and over certainly pushes most sane people over the edge. For candidates, it costs large amount of money in photocopying and their efforts in distribution only end up in the bin, and not a recycling one at that. In the age of Green awareness and the hopes of creating a carbon neutral university, the excess and waste of campaign literature should be looked at. Perhaps an area where each can leave a ready supply of literature for those that want it would help limit the waste, and the amount of times you have to say "I got one already".

Poster policy is another issue that needs to be looked at. While the Student Union did well to erect temporary boards for the election, the amount of posters per candidate (as with leaflets) should be restricted and distributed evenly. The policing of these posters would be made easier by this, as The Observer has heard of numerous tales of poster taking by electoral opponents. perhaps the introduction of the public stocks would be a reasonable way of dealing with caught offenders.

A system that has worked well in other Irish Universities has been that the Student Union itself provides the campaign literature and posters for a fee of X amount. Each candidate could then be granted access to an expert in designing software within campus and get a suitable poster for his/her needs. This eliminates controversial posters and guarantees that everything going out there is stamped and given the OK. Most importantly it takes away the aspect of who ever has the most cash to spend wins.

Regarded by many as the most annoying of this years election gimmicks was by a long mile the gross amount of Chalk used to graffiti the campus, in what would later be described as "The Chalk War". In my opinion, our fine university resembled a shoddy British inner-city comprehensive and I do not wish to revisit this image next year. In my opinion the rain didn't come soon enough!

On a more personal level, I was quite taken aback by the restriction of who could be allowed into the counting venue on the day of the tallys. While I have every faith in that it was a fair and just count, in the name of democracy and transparency, individual onlookers must be allowed in if they wish. While I understand a certain noise level may distract counters, it is certainly a necessary sacrifice that EVERYONE is allowed in. I, and many others were quite taken aback by our refusal to the Venue.
[We also received several emails complaining about this very issue- Ed.]

If a more cost effective, fairer campaign can be ran and the count made public, I am sure a greater participation by the student body will continue. If we push that students vote for their own benefit and not for the benefit of someone who wants a job next year, we can truely make the Student Union a more fairer and credible one. I hope that the Exec elect take these issues into consideration for the next year and that an increased participation by the growing Student Body is encouraged above everything else.

Yours hopefully,


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