10 election myths busted

Staffordshire University Students’ Union’s annual Leadership Race is already in full swing and it’s really important that everyone has their say.

Voting in the Students’ Union elections is an important way for you to have your say about what happens within the Students’ Union as well as on campus and in the wider student community, don’t throw it away.

If you are thinking about nominating yourself then find out more about the elections and roles that you could apply for at www.staffsunion.com/leadershiprace

Staffs Union Leadership Race

Myth 1

"I’m not political enough."

There aren’t particular issues you have to be passionate about to vote or to get people to vote for you, other than being interested in making things better for students at Staffs.

Some elected officers and reps get involved in a variety of campaigns and issues, others focus on other areas of the role. People with varying political views and experience are elected at every set of elections so there is no right sort of political interest or activity for those who put themselves forward or those who vote for them.

Myth 2

"Someone else is more likely to win."

Most people who nominate themselves believe this, but someone's got to win.

You might think that someone else has more experience, more friends or is just more likely to win. But with thousands of students voting there are no guarantees with elections. There are often cases where people who didn't think they would win are elected.

Myth 3

"I'm not the right sort of person to get involved in elections."

There is no such thing as the “right sort of person” to put themselves forward or vote in elections.

Every member of the Students’ Union has the right to vote (membership is automatic for all Staffordshire University students) and every year different people with different views, ideas and experience win. Just because the current officers focus on particular issues, or projects, it doesn’t mean you have to or that you have to vote for similar people.

Each officer makes the position their own and the Students’ Union provides training and support to help them achieve their goals.

There are no particular skills or experience required to win an election or to be a successful officer. Enthusiasm and passion are the main criteria.

Myth 4

“It’s just a popularity contest.”

There are no guarantees or certainties with elections. Just because you think someone knows lots of people, it doesn’t mean those people would vote for them. Remember every vote counts and by encouraging those around you to take a few minutes to make the most of their right to vote, you can shape the way the Union runs.

Knowing people that you can talk to and try to persuade to vote for you can help but with thousands of votes cast in some elections, no one can know that many people!

People who have nominated themselves do lots of different things to persuade people to vote for them; hand out flyers, put up posters, speak in lectures and seminars, send emails, use Facebook and plenty more.

There have been times when existing officers have tried to be re-elected and been unsuccessful despite presumably knowing more people so elections are not a popularity contest.

Myth 5

“I won’t have time.”

Voting online takes a couple of minutes and your vote can make a difference to the year ahead.

Even if you are in your final year, making that quick vote can be a way of you using your knowledge of Staffs to help benefit future students.

If you are thinking about nominating yourself, full-time officer roles are paid full-time positions for one year from July until July. They’re designed to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to completing your course or year of study, and the Students’ Union provides training and support to help you carry out your responsibilities within the Union.

The election campaign period is three weeks in total, but it’s up to you how much time you put into it and how you balance it with your studies.

Myth 6

“There’s no point, you’ll never change anything.”

Students have been instrumental in introducing big changes at Staffs over the years.

The introduction of 24 hour opening in the library, reducing the time it takes to receive academic feedback and ending charges for scanning documents are just a selection.

There are also lots of examples of smaller changes that improve things for students, and many of these have been led by elected students.

Myth 7

“I’m not sure it’s for me, I’m happy with things at Staffs.”

You don’t have to have an endless list of big changes you’d like to make to vote or nominate yourself.

If you choose to nominate yourself there is nothing wrong with putting together a simple manifesto with small suggestions. Sometimes it is small changes that can make a big difference. Why not ask your friends if they have any ideas for things they would like to see changed?

Being an officer is partly about giving feedback on behalf of students to the University and Students’ Union. This could be things that work well and should be increased or ideas to improve things.

Myth 8

“It’s too complicated.”

Voting is simple, all you have to do is go to www.staffsunion.com/leadershiprace

Login using your Staffordshire University username and password, then click on the positions you want to vote for. Information about the candidates will be available here so if you haven’t had a chance to read them you can do it before voting. The Students’ Union uses the Single Transferable Vote system, which allows you to rank candidates in order of preference.

If you decide to nominate yourself as a candidate, the online nomination form is designed to be straightforward. You just fill in a few details about yourself and have the opportunity to upload your photo and then we provide you with an HTML space to build your manifesto, which can be as complex or as simple as you wish.

If you are unable to use the online nomination form, just email leadershiprace@staffs.ac.uk for assistance.

Myth 9

“I don’t have the right experience to nominate myself.”

You don’t need prior experience to put yourself forward in an election.

It is up to students to decide who has the best suggestions and enthusiasm; it isn’t like going for a job interview where someone looks over your CV.

There are also no particular types of experience that mean you’re more likely to win an election than someone else. You don’t have to have been a member of a sports club, worked for the Union or been a student academic rep (STAR) to run for an officer position.

Experiences like these can provide a useful insight into how the Students’ Union and University function but are by no means essential.

Myth 10

“I won’t win without a big campaign team.”

Having friends to help you with your campaign can be useful, whether this is just encouraging words or a team of people to hand out flyers, but this isn’t essential.

Plenty of people have won elections working on their own, especially with online communication being so widely used now.

Sometimes candidates running in the same set of elections end up helping each other out and it can be great way to get to know other people who might be your future colleagues, so don’t worry about working on your own.

Myth 11

“I am not in my final year so I cannot run.”

Becoming an officer of the Students’ Union does not mean you stop being a student, so anyone can run for the position.

Another term used by Students’ Unions is Sabbatical Officer, meaning someone who is taking a break from their studies. So while a lot of students see becoming an officer as the perfect end to their studies, plenty of students also see it is as a great way to break up their studies and get some great experience before they graduate.

The skills you gain from being a sabbatical officer are second to none including how to lead a team, devise and manage strategy, and the experience of working closely with senior officials on highly sensitive matters.

So if you’re interested in running for a position at the Students’ Union, don’t wait for your final year. Jump in and have a go now, you might just start on a journey you will never forget.

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