It’s Guild election time again fellow students, and once again we find ourselves swarmed with red, green, pink and blue propaganda flyers around campus and shoved in our faces again. For most seasoned students, you’ll probably not give a fuck, unless you are part of the select few have probably devoted your entire time this year towards these two weeks. For those people, this can be an exhausting and intense time that no one in your cute coffee catchups has prepared you for. Here’s what I wish I knew.
1. The people you run with are your friends, but probably not really your friends
The first time I ran in elections, I was pretty stoked to think that a person a few years ahead of me kept checking in on me to see how I was going and when I was able to help out. This person was an acquaintance of mine, but as a first-timer to elections I was naive and didn’t realise they were pretty much just messaging me so they had as many troops on the battlefield as possible. I hence was very upset when this person stopped messaging me after the last week of September because I genuinely thought this person wanted to be a good friend of mine.
Both major tickets invest a lot of time for many months in the way they recruit people to run. From the coffee catch ups, to the messaging, to tagging you in posts, the way you are brought on board and encouraged to get involved is a highly curated process.
Don’t be fooled though! You will make a lot of friends during elections, including those from the leadership teams from your ticket, but you should be aware that if someone seems really keen on you coming down during these two weeks it is because of this.
2. Guild elections will genuinely fuck up your brain
Every time I have run in Guild elections, the aftermath has truly been detrimental to my mental health. Every hour of your day for several weeks, your social media and time at uni is bombarded with election talk. If you choose to get involved like I did, the weeks after involve uncoiling yourself from the intensity of the time and readjusting to normalcy (and trying not to think about the midsems you fucked up because of it). It can be consuming and overwhelming and a lot to handle both during and after, so please take care of yourself and try not to get caught up in the hype – it can seriously mess you up afterwards.
3. Watch out for the toxicity
Both tickets pass off that they are ‘positive’ but the reality is that elections are ugly and bitchy and very, very toxic. Daily debriefs quickly turn into a roast of the other ticket, and it is so easy to forget that despite your different political affiliations everyone is ultimately human. This was always something I struggled with, and something you should try and combat if you want to get involved – make friends with people from other tickets, look out for them and keep the shittalking to a minimum. Though there are a bunch of bad eggs who run, most people are slaving away on those voting booths because they genuinely care about the Guild and also want to make a genuine difference on campus.
4. The Guild is important, but not that important
There are only really two narratives that we ever hear about the Guild: from most students, that it’s useless and that hacks are using it to advance their political career; and from hacks, that who you vote for is the most important decision you’ll ever make. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between. The Guild is a fundamental organisation to the student experience; however, the overhyped nature of election season generally works to damage its perception and reduces people’s understanding of its importance. The best thing you can do during elections is educate people on what the Guild does and let your friends and voters make an informed decision based on the policies of all tickets.
5. Your involvement is ultimately your decision
If you are a student who is keen to get involved in Guild elections because you are passionate about making a difference on campus, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. One of the major issues with elections is that all of the tickets are guilty of coercing students into running despite the fact they probably couldn’t care less or do not want to commit the time. There is an intense environment created during election time and peer pressure, spam messaging from the leadership team and occasional FOMO can make you feel like you are letting your ticket down. Think about what you want your university experience to be like and if you want the Guild to be a part of it. If you do then commit, but if you don’t then it’s not worth risking your own wellbeing.
If you want to keep up to date with all the Guild Election Coverage so far check it all out in one easy location right here.