Monday, 3 February 2014

Got Elections Phobia?

"There’s no way I can run, I haven’t done enough stuff! Everyone else will be more qualified"

This is a common worry people have when they are deciding about whether or not to put themselves forward. But there are no tick boxes for what you have to have done to run for any of these positions. You don’t have to have been a Course Rep to be Education Officer, you don’t have to be a volunteer to be Community & Development Officer and you don’t have to have been on a JCR to be RUSU President. Of course, experience in the area you want to be involved in is useful but it’s certainly not essential, what’s more important is a passion for the issues and a determination to make change. In fact, the only essential quality you must have is that you need to be a current student at Reading. You might be a final year about to graduate or maybe you’re a first or second year thinking of taking a year out? Undergrad or Postgrad, over 21 or under, home student or overseas, whatever your background or status you are eligible to run! So… since being a student is the only essential it looks like you’re super qualified so why not give it a shot?

"Sure, the job looks fun but I’m too scared to run in an election"

Too many people never run in an election because it seems big and scary and just not something that they would ever want to put themselves through. Maybe you've never known anyone who has become an Officer; maybe you haven’t been that involved with the Union, maybe you didn't even know Student Officers existed! Maybe you hate public speaking, you don’t think you know enough people, you have too much University work or you just don’t think you have the time to campaign. None of these things are reasons for you to not put yourself forward. Campaigning can be flexible and there are lots of ways to do it that don’t involve public speaking or standing around on campus all day. There are also many ways to win an election and it’s really not always about who knows the most people, or who is President of what society. All kinds of people win elections and this year it could be you! Whatever barriers might be in your way, come and talk to us about them and we will do our best to break them down.

"Well it’s easy for you to say…"

Contrary to popular belief, elections scare me. Before I ran in my first election (St. George’s JCR 2009) I was terrified. The prospect of standing up and talking to just 40 people made me feel sick and I thought no one would ever vote for me.  Yet somehow I have run in a further 5 elections since that day. They might be scary, but going through them has given me 2 years on a JCR and 2 years in the best job in the world at RUSU. I’m a delegate for NUS National Conference and a member of NUS Welfare Zone committee. And do you know what? I was just as scared before all of those elections as before that first one in St. Georges’ common room. Whether it’s talking to 40 people or 400 people I still get nervous, I rewrite speeches about a thousand times and I threaten to drop out right up until the last minute. So why do I keep doing them? Because it’s just so worth it. The scariest bit is actually nominating so just do that and worry about the rest later!

"I haven’t really thought about it to be honest, people like me don’t really do this sort of thing" 

A common misconception is that elections aren't for ‘people like you.’ All I’ll say is this:

"If the same kind of people always run then the same kind of people will always win and the same kind of things will always happen."

If you want to see change then why not be the one to trigger it? If you think no one would vote for someone ‘like you’ or that no one ‘like you’ has ever won before, well that is all the more reason to run!

Students’ Unions should be living, breathing, ever-changing, diverse and accessible organisations and maybe it’s someone EXACTLY ‘like you’ that is just what RUSU needs.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Full-time or Part-time Officer positions take a look at our website or send me an email. 

Sophie Davies
Welfare Officer 2013/14
Follow @RUSU_Welfare 

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