The Kent Union Leadership Elections are back; and this year is bigger and more consequential than ever. Every year you, the student, have the wonderful opportunity to vote for someone who you think should be sworn into the officer roles. They will all aim to work on the issues that are affecting you the most, responding to your feedback and bringing about positive change.
Following the Democracy Review last year, the Union announced 4 new sabbatical roles, including the introduction of a Postgraduate Experience Officer. And the introduction of student networks will replace the current group executive committees, which will work to create a community in previously underrepresented areas.
We have a whole host of issues that need to be solved. The debate over free speech has been rekindled in light of Carl Benjamin’s visit in November. Living costs are skyrocketing to the point when students are selling pictures of their body just to make ends meet. And Brexit remains an uncertain and divisive phenomenon, and many young people believe that we should have a final say on our country’s fate.
Those are just a few issues that need reforming, but every year here in Canterbury and Medway, we are often reminded of student’s apathy and discontent with the organisation. In 2018, around 8 out of 10 us failed to turn up to the ballot box, but why? Some believe the organisation is experiencing a democratic deficit, that it is falling short of fulfilling its basic duties. Others are simply not interested in what the union do and that they are unable to implement genuine and worthwhile change. And many are unaware or informed about what a students' union is (or does).
That is why we have dedicated an entire edition for this year’s election. We see it the Union as incredibly important and in our editorial, we propose why you should vote between March 4 and March 8. The union is flawed, but as a membership organisation, you have a direct say in the way things are ran. The election makes a fundamental contribution to our democratic governance; we can both hold leaders to account while at the same time granting them legitimacy to those who wish to exercise power.
But there is something far greater and self-actualising to all of this. Whoever you vote for, whatever your needs are and whether you win or lose, you have worth actualised through your status as a Kent Union member. Having the right to participate, whether that means spoiling your ballot or RONing a candidate, serves to reinforce self-esteem and self-respect because you have the opportunity to have your say and exercise your rights.
So, get involved, choose your leaders and help shape your academic journey for the better.
Newspaper News Editor