The candidates have been clashing in hustings this weekVarsity

CUSU campaigning may only last a week, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was longer. By this point in proceedings, with voting having opened at 9am yesterday morning, we have had three candidate videos, one intervention by a person wearing a livery collar and a nine-hour campaigning ban for one campaign.

If you have even ventured outside in a student-populated area, you will now almost certainly have a healthy layer of leaflets lining the bottom of your rucksack. And, of course, Facebook seems to have been turned green, purple and orange for the presidential candidates, so numerous are the profile pictures and cover photos in their honour.

In the referendum being held alongside the elections, meanwhile, (lest we forget) the stakes were raised when last-year favourite Horatio the dog made an appearance again, this time urging a Yes vote to CUSU constitutional reform.

“I trust that our readers are intelligent and engaged, prepared to make their own considered decisions”

There is every indication at the moment that the presidential race is set to be a tight one. (If you’d like to help me say that with more confidence, please vote in Varsity’s poll here.) The candidates are all different: Jack Drury will be hoping his right-wing politics will set him apart from a left wing presumably split between his two competitors; Daisy Eyre will be attempting to toe the delicate line between continuity (she is incumbent president Amatey Doku’s college daughter, after all) and change; and Keir Murison will be emphasising his experience at the helm of Student Minds Cambridge, as he looks to take on another University-wide role.

The campaign period has been fraught with tensions. Just this morning, Daisy Eyre received a nine-hour campaigning ban from the Elections Committee (EC) after a flyer of hers, with a handwritten annotation calling opponent Jack Drury a “lying Tory”, was allegedly posted through the door of a Homerton student. In the race for University Councillor, meanwhile, Josh Jackson was called to a disciplinary meeting to discuss his (in the words of the EC) “unacceptably aggressive” and “disrespectful” campaign so far.

Horatio the dog is urging students to vote Yes in the constitutional referendumYoutube/VoteYes!

For those of us not running for a role, the instinct to grab some popcorn and watch the inevitable unfold is a powerful one. This is my first time covering a CUSU sabbatical election, and, on a purely personal level (the level which regularly Keeps up with the Kardashians and follows E! News on Twitter), I am pleased to note that there seems to be an almost permanent wealth of drama. If nothing else, it is keeping Varsity’s elections coverage ticking over very nicely.

But there is a serious side to all this, of course. We may revel in the in-fighting and the controversy, the snide remarks and the comebacks, but the fact remains that these people are running to represent us in some of the most senior student positions within the University community. We must not forget it.

“The answer to frustration is not to get quiet – it’s to speak up”

This is why it was such a pleasure for me to attend hustings, to listen to Varsity’s Sunday Review, and to feel the candidates squirm as they faced a grilling. It is exactly what should be happening. There is plenty in this place that needs to change, plenty that needs addressing. This will come as no surprise to any reader of Varsity – our modus operandi is to make sure we are holding the institutions and individuals designed to support us to account. But it is what every student should be considering, even more so than normal, at the moment – not only that things need to change, but what, and how.

I thought long and hard about whether Varsity should choose do endorse a presidential candidate or not. You will likely have noticed that I decided not. I trust that our readers are intelligent and engaged, prepared to make their own considered decisions. But I do hope that our coverage will help in this regard, keeping you up-to-date and informed as the election winds up for the dismount.

My one plea, however, is that you do vote. You may (or may not) be feeling let down by the voting process after the last year in politics, but the answer to that frustration is not to get quiet – it’s to speak up. Casting your vote in this election is an easy but important way of doing this.

Vote for your president. Vote for your sabbatical officers – even though they are uncontested. Wade into the minefield that is the University Councillor race, and vote for that, too. RON to your heart’s content if no candidate tickles your fancy. Vote in the referendum, whether or not you choose to follow the advice of Horatio the dog.

The important thing is that you vote – whatever direction you do that in. This university will not do anything unless we take it by the shoulders and make it. That is a task far easier said than done, but the simple mouse click that is our vote being cast is well within our reach

Elections 2017

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