Student elections are back. Nominations are open again and the official campaigns for the full-time and part-time officer roles are about to commence. Alongside the excitement and anticipation among students, however, is indifference.
InQuire, however, believes that the 2019 student elections will be different.
Each year at UKC comes with its controversies—the controversies in 2018/2019, however, are different. September started with student and Union backlash to Tokyo Tea Rooms for cultural appropriation; Kent Union’s draft of fancy dress guidelines invited both ridicule and support from students; and Carl Benjamin’s visit to the University, and Neo-Nazi graffiti found on the wall of Eliot College before Christmas, have marked one of the most pivotal moments this year—starting heated discussions regarding free speech and student safety on campus. As oppose to the Union’s use of Zayn Malik for a Black History Month poster in 2016, which comes down to a serious mistake, this year’s scandals have catalysed student discussion, among each other and with Kent Union.
Despite student division, each controversy this year has brought important questions to the table. Each controversy we have experienced has raised questions that we have, and should, all spare time to think about.
What has stood out, throughout the series of contentious issues, is the scale of student reactions, whether positive or negative. More opinions have been brought to surface, and, consequently, more important discussion. The University of Kent students, as a result, have become more aware of, and engaged with, the running of the Union and the University.
InQuire encourages students to utilise the elections as a space to address the issues they have felt compelled to talk about throughout the year. This is the chance for students to bring the many theories, arguments, and opinions of this year, into practice.