October at UTS is a magical time. The weather is warmer, the days are longer and everyone is busy sharing October 3rd memes instead of studying for exams. It’s also that time of year when people who are wearing the same brightly coloured shirt shove a brightly coloured flyer in your face and ask you to vote for them. Yes, student elections are nigh.
This is the second year I’ve been involved in campaigning and while I believe wholeheartedly that the cause is worthy (my friends are incredibly talented and deserve to edit our student magazine like no other), I can still recognise just how ridiculous the entire situation is. Over the two years I’ve animatedly discussed bizarre topics such as permanent chalk, the practice of postering over the oppositions’ posters, and how best to body-block someone on polling days. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said ‘please vote, it only takes a minute!’ (It never takes just a minute). On one hand I’m laughing at myself but on the other hand I’m not laughing at all because these are all serious matters and I want my friends to win so badly.
Campaigning can be a positive experience filled with personal growth. It gives you a delirious rush and buzz (puns 100% intended). After all, passion is contagious. Through these elections I have met some of the most spectacular people in the world (in my opinion) who inspire me in their professional and personal lives every damn day. For a month you are constantly surrounded by about nine other people, all working towards the same goal. It causes you to make a different kind of friend. In just a short amount of time you’ll come to understand these people intimately. Your friendship will be based around the passions you share and you build the kind of relationship where all of you would do anything for the others.
While campaigning you’ll get to talk to other students about what they love, what they want, what they care most about. For those few weeks you’re not staring at your screen in solitude while you move from class to class, you’re engaging with everyone around you, or trying to. Before campaigning, I would’ve never believed that I could have the courage to stand in front of an entire lecture hall of people and try to convince them to vote. Now, I can do it pretty much without blinking. There’s no time to be scared during elections.
However, while it can be wonderful (albeit stressful), the practice of campaigning is filled with less positive actions, little unethical maneuvers. There’s always, at the very least, one person whose friend talks to the other team and pretends to be interested in what they say. When this happens the other team can end up wasting ten minutes chatting to someone who is never going to vote for them and you’re free to talk to many potential voters uncontested. It’s sneaky and unfair and as with all cruel campaigning techniques, it works.
Another little trick is throwing the vote. Essentially, this is when you know without a doubt that you’re about to lose a vote. You know the person has picked the other team and there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing except this one last dodgy method. This is when you use your persuasive powers to convince the potential voter not to vote at all.
Throwing the vote basically goes against the entire spirit of democracy. No one wants to be that person. But no vote is better than a vote against your ticket. You’ve really got to approach elections with an all-or-nothing attitude.
Elections can be a fun bonding experience. Simultaneously they can also be dodgy and filled with regretful tactics. It’s easy to comfort ourselves when we feel like dicks by lamenting that we can’t be elected to edit Vertigo based on merit instead of persuasive powers. Despite our reassurances, we know you hate us. And we understand how pathetic we look when it’s ten minutes from polls closing and we’re screaming at strangers ‘please just vote for me!’
Don’t worry though. We can hear you when you’re glaring at us and saying to your friend ‘ugh, I hate student elections. I hope they don’t talk to me.’ It’s just like how I know you could hear me when my friend was chalking and I sarcastically said ‘I love how they just trample over the chalk while we’re still here working on it.’ As the great Kanye West once said, “I love you and hate you at the very same time.” Deep in my heart I know he was talking about student elections.
By Brittany Smith