It takes a special kind of confidence to look at the last Students’ Union election and think: “that looked like fun, I’ll give it a go next time!” However, seemingly unaware of the unmitigated disaster that unfolded over last term, a jaw-dropping 11 candidates have thrown their hats into the ring to become our new SU President. Their manifestos can be found here.
One lucky candidate will become our new supreme leader on Thursday night, assuming charge of a groaning bureaucracy that claims to run everything that happens in Oxford while giving off the unnerving impression that it does absolutely nothing. I have to admit that I’m not entirely what the SU actually does. I know it supports The Oxford Student as well as Oxford Raise And Give, making it responsible for two rags. Other than that, however, I must admit that I remain blissfully ignorant of its role in student life.
For the sake of some clarity, I turned to the SU website, which apparently contains a plethora of information about this immense student body . The first page I visited was entitled ‘who we are’, and opens with one of the most banal lines I’ve ever read: “We’re called the Students’ Union because that’s what we are; a union of students.”
I briefly wonder who could possibly have gained any clarity from that statement, before deciding that it simply isn’t worth it and moving on to the ‘what we do’ section. I would recommend browsing the ‘Covid’ priority page, which lists the names of several key SU members under the atrociously worded heading “who’s making it happen”. Tragic, really. If only the WHO had known sooner.
There still doesn’t seem to be any obvious incentive as to why you would want to become President. Other than a £21,326 salary and the privilege of sitting on dozens of student councils, there aren’t any real perks. That seems irrelevant, however, given that so many people are clearly happy to take that chance.
The lineup of candidates is pretty varied, ranging from empty-chair candidates to people who seem to have made a concerted effort to join literally every student society at Oxford. Some of the manifestos are incredibly detail-oriented and delightfully pretty, others seem to take a more brutalist approach to design. For each of these plucky candidates, the last obstacle on the road to the Presidency is a deeply undignified wave of grovelling messages to dozens of people they’ve never met.
Perhaps I’m being too cynical. I’m constantly put to shame by the students who channel their optimism and passion into improving all our lives at this university, given that I can barely convince myself to write a sub-par Cherwell column without a ‘reward wine’ perched in my periphery. I hope whoever is elected as the next SU President does a great job, especially if they can do it without messaging me first.
Art by Justin Lim.