The Sphinx’s gossip columnist, Olla Podrida, has returned to us after a 100 year hiatus. This second coming is not a minute too soon…

Besides getting a reach around from a greased-up Diane Kruger in the back of a Lear jet whilst sipping Chateau Margaux from a hollowed-out ostrich egg, standing for election as a student officer is one of the most exhilarating things you can do. At least, that is what we can assume, given so many people are always so keen to give it a go.

Student Representative Officer is an important job. It’s a proper big boy job. With a salary, a desk in an office, and meetings with even more important people in even bigger offices, wearing ill-fitting Teflon suits. You spend lots of time talking to these greying old geese, schmoozing with people whose names and jobs are instantly forgettable, and in your spare time, you launch campaigns about equality for ocelots on campus, the importance of eating seventeen ethically sourced pieces of fruit per day, and raising the national bedtime. That’s incredibly exhilarating. Why wouldn’t you want that?

Well many folks do want it, ladies and gents, and this year, the elections have caused a bit of a ruckus. Almost as big a ruckus as when a cardboard cut-out of James Coe was nabbed by some anarchists a few years back, or when Alex Ferguson had his banners torn down by an irate Liverpool fan. Because, this year, the voters of the University of Liverpool, being of sound mind and body, have elected four men to be their overlords.

Those sexist, woman-hating patriarchal bastards.

Clearly, the idea that the voters were of sound mind and body must have been some sick joke. How could they have done such an appalling thing? In one fell swoop, the entire movement towards women’s equality has been shattered, set back, rendered obsolete. It doesn’t matter that our prime minister is a woman. It doesn’t matter that the Scottish first minister, or her Conservative opponent, are women. It doesn’t matter that, Chancellor aside, all the major roles of state are filled by women. No. Not having a female SO renders all that obsolete. We might as well all just fuck off and join the Tories.

There has been plenty of caterwauling and much gnashing of teeth, and now, the inevitable has happened: people are starting to talk about a gender quota. This is being supported by the only new SO, who claims that “as a man”, he is unable to represent women effectively. Which makes one wonder why he bothered to stand in the first place, if he was already aware of his painful inability to represent half of the student body.

The thing is, SO position isn’t, really, that difficult a job to get elected for, if you know what you’re doing. The vast majority of successful candidates win for one of two reasons: either they have broadly (I’m sorry to say) populist policies and strategies for getting elected, steering well clear of identity politics, or they go full ‘old-boys network’, and grab the support of a bloc. This is the reason why the Labour or AU-backed candidate is inevitably elected, usually as president. It is also the reason, possibly a sad one, why candidates who station attractive female helpers outside of libraries do well. Or the ones who promise things students actually want, like rooftop bars over green initiatives.

So there are no female student officers next year. So what? Maybe there’ll be a clean sweep of sisters next year? Gender equality isn’t really equality if the candidates have to be shoe-horned into office. “Can’t stand the pressure of the race, little lady? That’s alright, here, let us men give you your own special seat in the office. There, now doesn’t that feel better?”

More to the point, elections are about representation of views, rather than gender. Spoiler alert: not all people think the same way. Doesn’t it stand to reason that, perhaps, some of them voted for male candidates over female ones because the female ones didn’t offer what they were looking for? I mean, either that or the fact that Sean, Oba and Ananda just radiate effortless charm and pulsating sex appeal. Plus, y’know, roof bar.

Now just imagine Sean, Oba and Ananda on that roof bar on a hazy summer’s eve, pouring you drinks. Picture the cut of their suits. Look at Oba’s shoes. My god, they’re so long. Sean’s facial hair is so thick and lush it traps your heart like a sea anemone. It stings, but it stings soooo good. Listen to the way he laughs at your jokes, and see how he catches your eye. And can you just feel the power that emanates from Ananda’s smile? There’s a man who knows how to butter anyone up. Play your cards right and it could be you! Now, why wouldn’t you want to vote for that scenario?

Yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, not being elected, and being serviced by Diane Kruger at 35,000 feet is scant consolation. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Diane is available for just under a… oh no, wait, not that secret. The secret is that SO, much like being Labour leader or teaching gender studies, is a largely pointless job. And if you want it that bad? Run again next year, and this time, learn the effing rules.

Olla is always available to lend you friendly advice.

Until next time,