THE BLOG

Student Union Elections - The Fights and Farce of Campaigns

28/02/2014 10:59 GMT | Updated 29/04/2014 10:59 BST

I write this as I sit in my London flat, somewhat distant from the thousands of Surrey students in Guildford casting votes in the 2014 Elections for sabbatical and part-time officers to represent students in the University of Surrey Students' Union (USSU) next year.

In my third year as a student at the University of Surrey, I am currently on placement working in London. Having experienced two USSU elections as a student in Surrey, I have now gained the perspective of a student residing outside the Guildford bubble; using social media as my sole form of staying updated during the elections.

Surrey student's interaction on social media throughout the elections campaign period is great. On Tuesday, during one of the Question Time rounds held with candidates on the union's premises, #surreydecides was trending nationally on Twitter. I can't say, as I don't know, what it's like at other universities, but let's just say the students at Surrey are somewhat vocal with their opinions, across all media platforms.

And as you'd expect, in every election, both ministerial and sabbatical, there are taunts and teases, sarcasm and satire, controversy and speculation. But what I have seen during the last two years of USSU elections has appalled me.

Surrey, I am disappointed in you.

We can all chuckle at a slogan's innuendo, sneer at a campaign poster not to our taste or criticise a prospective policy - and we are well within our right to - but to actively sabotage a fellow candidate, no, a fellow student's campaign is quite frankly unacceptable and disgusting.

On campus last year, I witnessed campaign banners repeatedly pulled down, 'supporters' actively slandering opposing candidates, blatant personal attacks on candidates through social media, and now? Now, my friends, we have formal, detailed complaints against our current Union President - who, may I remind you boys and girls, you as students, as a democracy, voted in last year with an overwhelming majority - complaints are surrounding her public support of an individual candidate running for the Presidential election but have been dismissed by an official statement from the Returning Officer which you can read here.

Following the live-stream #surreydecides twitter feed, I sometimes feel like I'm reading a transcript of a Jeremy Kyle show. I get that "it's politics, love", but politics is politics; it's affairs, it's methods, practice and principles.

Politics is not a degradation of etiquette, respect and dignity.

We are educated young people. Hell, we are the leaders of tomorrow. I look at my peers studying economics, physics, politics... I see bankers, scientists and politicians. How is it that we are unable to let go and look past the petty, long-forgotten grudges we hold against individuals and judge a candidate purely as they present themselves?

To me, it is a sign of weakness in a candidate when they or their supporters resort to damaging the reputation of the opposition rather than advancing their own through genuine credentials, concrete policies and aspirational aims. But hey, that's just me, right?

I am not advocating support to any individual candidates through this blog post. I am simply expressing my distaste towards the electoral habits of Surrey students over the past two elections.

My only ask is that you vote.

If you are a student at Surrey, read the manifestos, educate yourself and vote.

You have until 19:00 on Friday 28th February.

And if you aren't a student of Surrey, learn from our mistakes please.