Voter apathy and disillusionment with the electoral process are common complaints. Cries of ‘but what does CUSU actually do?!’ are even more frequent. Just as the recession brought out greater numbers of young voters in the last general election, anxiety about the current state of the University has drawn unusually high numbers of voters to the CUSU elections over the last three days. This is heartening news: greater engagement with the way in which the students’ union is run can only be a good thing.
However, when the figures are actually examined, the 4,000 votes cast translate to only a third of the franchise. After a wave of politically-motivated unrest, it is astonishing that the turnout for the CUSU elections was so low. The Millbank riots showed how strongly some feel about the cuts. It is a shame that this passion hasn’t been transferred into peaceful, democratic action.
This is not to say that all, or even the majority, of Cambridge students are left-wing or anti-cuts. The fact that Adam Booth did not take the presidency makes this clear. However, one would expect with such an ‘extremist’ candidate running, that the left would mobilise to support him and the right would be out in force to make sure that he did not take power.
The usual criticism (which is often justified) that CUSU does not publicise itself well does not stand. Pigeonholes have been overflowing with manifestos, and every notice board is crowded with campaign posters (hopefully the new Environmental Officer will encourage the recycling of campaign literature. Perhaps a giant papier mache statue of the incumbents could be created).
The Union Society has had the right idea in rewriting the arcane election rules that caught out Gabriel Latner last term. One wonders if Tully and co. will follow suit with CUSU’s own rulebook.
A powerful body for student representation is more important now that we have seen that the University is not above ignoring the wishes of its own academics.
The University has clearly broken its own rules and overestimated its own power. TCS urges all students to attend the protest at Great St. Mary’s Church at midday today – if not to defend bursaries, then to oppose the heavy-handed and unconstitutional behaviour of the University.
Co-Editor Phillip Brook has offered his resignation to the Board of Directors. We thank him for his hard work on the paper this term and wish him all the best for the future.