So, it’s a chilly day in February and you’re walking towards the Exchange with your friends to head to your next lecture but the moment you step into the building, BAM…you’re suddenly bombarded with lots of students, several dressed up in coloured shirts with catchy slogans – there’s a lot of very smiley people coming up to you with manifestos and flyers are being waved in your face. What’s up with that?
At the moment as I’m writing this, we’re at the end of elections week for the 2018/2019 FXU Student Presidents! So, I’ve decided to do a quick post about the annual elections so that you know what’s on around campus if you do decide to study at the University of Exeter on the Cornwall campuses (or maybe you’re a prospective Falmouth student who has sneakily hopped over onto our Exeter student blogs to have a look at what’s going on…) and not get overwhelmed when elections week rolls by in your time at university.
Here’s a general overview:
Every year, we have the FXU Presidential Elections; FXU being the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union in Cornwall. The only difference is that it’s a separate Students’ Union from the Students’ Guild on the Streatham Campus and we also share it with the students of Falmouth University (SHOUTOUT TO OUR FAL FRIENDS!!) In each academic year, four students from both universities of Exeter and Falmouth take the lead in shaping and creating a better university experience;
These four students can be anyone. As in, any student can apply for the any of the positions listed above (apart from President Falmouth because we’re students from the University of Exeter, and vice versa for Falmouth students with President Exeter). There can be several students running for the same position, but there can only be one student for each position!
They listen to students, speak for the students and do things for students. Side note, that sentence sounded like a really cool motto wow BUT BACK TO THE POINT. Some of the general duties that all four roles have is to make sure that the university experience is catered to the students’ needs and that the university is listening to what students are saying. This means speaking on your behalf at big meetings such as the NUS (National Union of Students), making informed decisions for the students on their behalf to higher ups, overseeing broader and future university developments and plans and just a whole long list of duties that is ultimately to benefit the whole student body. I’m not going to list everything because there’s just so much to do, plus each presidential position has different specific responsibilities (that I’m sure you can sort of get the gist of from their titles), PLUS their own unique manifesto points that the student body votes them on – It’s a real tough job.
FXU Presidents are actual full time paid positions that students can undertake either at the end of their studies in University or during a year out. So, your vote matters because if the person you vote for wins the election, they will be paid to represent your views and your voice, as well as everything else they promise in their manifestos (e.g. having dogs in lectures and seminars) (…please)
What basically happens during the election period is that candidates decide to run for their chosen position and they’re revealed to the public at the FXU AGM (Annual General Meeting), where voting then goes live on the Students’ Union website. Their manifestos are also put online for everyone to read before voting so that they can make their decision on who to vote for. Everyone gets one vote for each position, and if they don’t support or like the candidates running, they can opt to vote for R.O.N (otherwise known as re-open nominations). After the AGM comes a week of campaigning for the candidates – they are often supported by core campaign groups, which is a group of people who helps with putting our posters, flyers, appearing at events regarding the election for support, talking to people about the candidate’s campaign/manifesto and why they should vote, etc. These are the people you’d most likely see and encounter in the Exchange when election week is happening: listen to them! They just want to tell you why you should vote for the candidate they’re supporting and they mean well, even if they approach you with smiles looking like they’re on their fifth cup of coffee and on a sugar high. The candidates themselves walk around the campuses to be a presence and to talk to people about their manifestos; they’re more than happy to answer questions and just have a chat about what they’re aiming to do so don’t be afraid to go up to them and ask about their campaign! After all, the reason why they’re doing this in the first place is for you and your student experience. At the end of the campaign week, the results of the election are revealed and from it emerges the four new student presidents for the next academic year.
Fun fact; in my first year of university when the elections rolled by, I was one of the ‘what is happening? who are you? why are you trying to tell me about this election thing? please stay away from me’ people because it was just overwhelming and I was really confused as to what what was going on. It’s funny looking back on it now because a year later, I’m actively campaigning for someone who’s running and not only do I understand why it’s so important and what’s going on (ha ha) but I also know what it’s like working ‘behind the scenes’. In my own personal opinion, I find everyone works really hard in campaigning for their positions because they’re so passionate in making everyone’s experience in University a great one where student voices are heard and they’re just trying to make changes to create a close and engaging community within the universities…!! Okay sorry I’m going off on a tangent here and I sound somewhat cringe, but it’s honestly amazing how much they want to do for fellow students and it’s something that everyone should support, which can be done just by voting.
If you do decide to come to the University of Exeter in Cornwall this coming September, the candidates who have just been voted and elected by the student body are going to be your student presidents! But of course, next year there will be the election for the 2019/2020 FXU student presidents so if you’re a student studying here by then, vote or even run for a position when you’re ready! It’s not easy, but if you’re passionate about the Students’ Union and students having a great time in university, be their voice and represent them.
But seriously, voting is good. It’s not crazy like big world elections but it’s something that will make an impact on your university experience.
Hopefully this helps if you get confused about the annual FXU elections!