Further (and belated) congratulations are in order for the new/old team of Student Officers as they face the year ahead. However, just as fascinating about this year’s election is the vastly increased number of students who voted. The final turnout stood at 18% with 4017 votes cast, an increase of more than 50% from last year’s 2660 votes. Most striking has been the high number of medical students voting.
Doubtless there is a whole range of factors and explanations—not least, as I know in one case, voting so as to then be left in peace from the slew of emails during election week! Yet this does make fascinating study when one compares it with an apparently widespread feeling of being disconnected from the Guild in terms of every day life, not to mention the ever-present mutter of “what difference does it all make anyway?”
The stereotype of the apathetic student is an unfair one, I think—one only has to think of the protests at the rise in student fees, for example—for students can and do care deeply about issues. It can be easy, in any representative democracy, whatever the scale, to feel that, however one votes, little will change or even that there is much to distinguish one candidate or party from another once the flashy slogans have all evaporated. In this way it could be viewed as encouraging that more and more students have been actively getting involved during the 2015 Guild Elections. It is of course a huge conclusion to leap to on the basis of a few statistics, but we can hope for this increase to be the beginnings of an upward spiral where students can grow to feel that the Guild not only listens but is truly representative of their ideas and concerns.
Such feelings are especially topical with the upcoming General Election in May, as on a national level the age bracket 18-24-year-olds statistically has one of the lowest voting turnouts. Similar explanations have been sought such as disillusionment and feeling worlds apart particularly from the mainstream political parties. Yet one way of overcoming this is by getting actively engaged in the process as the issues at stake will directly impact us, and to vote for the sort of country we would want to live in.
The deadline to register in order to be able to vote in the General Election (7th May 2015) is 20th April. If you have not already done so you can register here.