There are currently 20 candidates running for the six paid positions in the KCLSU elections. Of these twenty, there is an equal split of men and women, a much more diverse showing than in previous years.
Carrie Toptan and Claudia Watts both praised and claimed they were inspired by the She Should Run campaign at Hustings last week. Similarly, PakSoc President Shiza Touqeer stated in her manifesto that she was motivated by the campaign as well.
Ethnic minorities have also dominated the ballot this year. This continues what is now a well-established trend: the current six full-time SU positions are occupied by five men and one woman, all of whom are from minority backgrounds.
This year, the profile of the candidates includes a more representative group of the King’s student body, with one notable exception: white, English men.
The only four white male candidates for paid positions are French (Antoine Morizur-Bruller), Italian (Niccolo Fantini), Cypriot (Yannis Xenophontos) and Lithuanian (Lux Step). Mancunian Danny al-Khafaji was the only potentially white-passing English male in the race for President. But he pulled out after “viewing [the SU’s] hypocrisy first-hand.”
I am not suggesting that what student politics really needs is a fresh injection of white, English men to sort it out. The ethnicity of a candidate obviously has no bearing on their policies or principles.
But it does strike me as strange that the most socially and academically confident demographic has produced zero candidates. Maybe English white guys just are not very interested in student politics: this would be a legitimate excuse. But I would bet that a survey of this demographic would reveal they are just as ideologically engaged as any other.
Studies, with varying levels of consensus, have shown that young, ethnic minorities participate less in mainstream electoral politics than their white counterparts across the country. A caveat is that these studies reveal greater community and volunteer participation among ethnic minority communities own demographics. Do these nationwide findings have any relevance to patterns here at the College?
Or is King’s a subversive, cosmopolitan microcosm wherein race and religion have no discriminatory associations? I would like to think this, but such demographic skews cannot be random and should not be dismissed for political purposes.
All that is clear now, as no data is currently available, is that our SU has some serious responsibilities next year. For whichever candidates manage to scrape together the votes needed to beat their opponents and take office, there is much work to do.
The SU next year must investigate the reasons why students choose to stand for election or forgo running at all. Also, a thorough analysis of the campaign process is essential to understand how to further open the process. There are so few candidates that one position–VP Education (Health)–is currently being run unopposed.
The SU positions require very little qualifications or experience, they pay well and have few people competing for them. How broken is our current system that almost nobody wants to apply for them?
We need to make people care about the Student Union again and this has to come from the officers themselves. Last year there was widespread rhetoric from candidates about increasing participation. This year, at the election Hustings, of the then seven candidates for President, only five turned up to make their case. More tragic than this was that barely more than that filled the seats in the audience.
The voter turnout this year will show whether the incumbent SU officers have achieved anything in increasing student participation. As a student, if you have any desire to make positive change, take the time to read the candidates’ manifestos and vote. Worst case scenario: you can pick which fellow student walks into a job they really want.
Get online and vote before 5:00pm Thursday.