The following is an open letter to the SU elections committee, sent to the Students’ Union and Impact on Friday 12th March. If you’d like to have your letter published drop us an email at [email protected]

The state of our Democracy.

I for one have lost all faith in our University’s supposed ‘democratic’ system. I am utterly flabbergasted and astounded that an unaccountable and virtually unelected elections committee have the supreme power to remove candidates from the campaign through the creation of rules and regulations which were introduced posthumously.

If we look at the case of removed candidate John Smith*: He had been ‘warned’ and has since been punished for certain acts which were not declared ‘illegal’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘not allowed’ until AFTER the act was committed. How can a candidate or anyone for that matter, possibly be punished for acting in a way that was NOT at the time breaching any rules?

The candidate is not to blame for the failings of the ‘powers that be’ to include criteria which they have since decided should be. If anything, the candidate should be awarded for his use of imagination. If the committee felt there were problems inherent in the rules system, they should have initiated a review of the system and the subsequent report should have instigated change and reform which should have been implemented in time for the next election. Not this one. It is intrinsically wrong that they have the power to remove and punish candidates who did not break any present, pre-written and agreed rules.

It is tantamount to creating a law to prosecute and imprison someone for an action they had committed weeks or months before. A ridiculous example would be to create a law stating that if a short loan book is not given back at exactly 10am, the person to whom it is issued will be expelled from the university – and then the university looking through the records and expelling and withdrawing degree certificates to everyone who has ever handed in a library book late. Ludicrous? I think so. It is completely unjustifiable to punish a candidate for breaking a rule that didn’t exist!

On top of new rules being created and implemented willy-nilly, even existing rules are weak. Candidates can have ‘representations’ filed against them by anyone, and they are not verified. A candidate can have a ‘black mark’ placed next to their name due to one person lodging a complaint that is potentially false. No other witnesses to the ‘incident’ are required, nor is any other photographic proof necessary! The person lodging the complaint could be a friend of the opposition, an old foe – I’m sure most of the student population wouldn’t have a clue where to write a complaint. Furthermore, the appeals committee oversee all complaints. Thus my complaint about the electoral committee to the electoral committee is likely to be shredded. More on them now…

To add insult to considerable injury, candidates in the position of John* are as he accurately described “guilty until proven innocent”. The appeals committee does not meet until after the elections. Who on Earth thought that was a good idea? Surely in cases such as these, the appeals committee should be drawn in almost immediately – and before the candidate is removed. In exactly whose interest is it to conduct the appeal after the election? It has the potential to initiate a by-election, with the original winning candidate perhaps then being stripped of their position if the de-selected candidate is elected. Unquestionably this stupid policy is not in the interests of the other candidates. It is not in the interests of the electorate. (Who as far as I can gather, are rather apathetic in the first round, let alone if a second round was required) and it is most certainly not in the interests of the candidate under fire – who may have already lost their credible reputation, as well as being put in the unenviable position of having to defend their character.

Who are the elections committee anyway? It was only upon doing research following this issue that I found that anyone could apply to be on it. Perhaps the SUs failure to publicise this position is one of many examples of where the SU have failed to communicate effectively with the people they are supposedly representing. As a result of this poor communication, very few people are aware of the opportunity and unsurprisingly therefore, pretty much all those that apply are awarded the position. All that is required of candidates is a short speech arguing why they should be elected. So who are those on the committee? Are these characters qualified enough to make the decision? Are any of them affiliated in any way with any of the election? Candidates running for the panel have to declare any ’conflict of interest’, but do they? Is this checked up on? On top of this, even after the decision has been made to remove a candidate, the candidate is not allowed to see who is on the panel or who/if anyone had a conflict of interest against them. WHY? This is completely and utterly unacceptable.

My proposal: the elections committee should be made up of students from outside the university, delegates from other universities perhaps. It cannot effectively be carried out internally. For example, if you asked the North Koreans if they fought a fair election campaign, I’m sure their answer would be somewhat different to that of the UNs election observers. You need people who are completely impartial to oversee any election campaign; they also need to be accountable for their actions, which our election committee are not. Meetings to decide the fate of candidates are held in virtual secrecy, and the identity of the panel appears to be anonymous – or at least impossible to find online. There are no minutes, no reports, and no transparency. There is therefore, no accountability, no fairness, no fair election, and a failed democracy.

Of course, the SU elections are largely unimportant to most people in the university, let alone those outside it. But it does pose many questions relating to democracy itself. If we can spectacularly fail in holding a free, fair and transparent election on something so trivial, with students who are on the whole, well-educated, and good intentioned, what hope do we have of ever having an effective democracy with good, free and fair elections in the big wide world?

Before today I had no inclination to stand for election this year, or next year in any way, shape or form. I thought (and to a certain extent still do) that it was just a big popularity contest that I just didn’t want to be a part of. I believed that it fundamentally changed nothing for the students. But now I’m not sure. I think I am now more inclined to stand – in an attempt to overhaul this pitiful system. Or is this false optimism? Would any attempt to change the system be futile? Who knows, even flippantly suggesting running for a position may result in my removal before I even officially put myself forward. Maybe John* was booted out because his policies may have been a little controversial? A little hard to implement? A little too much hard work?

Regardless of this, I can see that there really is something fundamentally wrong with our university’s supposed ‘democratic’ structure, and it has to change. Faults in the system need to be addressed and dealt with now. I don’t know how deep-seated the problem is, but worryingly, after only 20 minutes of research, I found countless flaws. Undoubtedly there are many, many, many more.

I sincerely hope that whoever wins this year’s Democracy and Communications post seriously overhauls and completely reforms the present system. I wish them luck with this epic task.Those who have left it in this appalling state should feel ashamed and red-faced.

I very much look forward to your response. Please re-affirm my faith in the SU exec and in the state of democracy at this university.

Kind regards,

Georgina Marsh

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40 Comments

  1. Robert
    March 14, 2010 at 01:04 — Reply

    Wayne’s policies controversial? lol. He didnt seem to know what he was running for half the time. I hope that he saw the results because regardless he got creamed by almost 2000 votes, which is remarkable seeing as he spent most of his time breaking rules. The rules, by the way, that he broke were plain and clear to anyone running in the elections, it’s no good him whining about it now that he has been chucked out.

    Of all the things to complain about the last election, this really isn’t it. I beg of you not to waste air-time on a candidate whimpering because he got caught trying to swing the election illegally and focus on the things that could have effected the decent candidates that played by the rules; Rosie’s name being left of ballots, lack of publicity, etc etc. This will only distract from those issues and for that reason I hope everyone will ignore it and instead move on to ask; how will the elections be better next year?

  2. Robert
    March 14, 2010 at 01:05 — Reply

    p.s. it’s the Student Union’s democratic system, not the ‘Universities’, which I suppose just sums up this persons understanding of events really.

  3. Daniel Cowling
    March 14, 2010 at 01:12 — Reply

    I think you raise some important and interesting points. The Student Union elections are fundamentally flawed in their make-up, largely because of the saturation of candidates, and the ambiguity and irresponsibility of policies. A profound problem comes from the number of people standing for election, when four or five people run for each of the various positions it is a recipe for electoral apathy. Does anyone, even the most politically minded person, have the time and interest to read thoroughly the manifesto’s of everyone involved?

    Furthermore, the manifestos themselves are generally saturated with ambiguous policies, such as ‘creating a more democratic SU’. What does this actually mean to you? – Are you going to change the election system? Are you going to change the communication with students? Another common claim is ‘to stop the rise of tuition fees’. This is undoubtedly something that needs to known of a candidate, although a pledge to stop any rises is clearly overly ambitious and is wrong to campaign on, unless the said candidate is in fact Lord Mandelson. More worryingly are policies such as ‘improving the universities position in league tables’, ‘getting a Lenton hopper bus’ or as i remember from last year ‘building a rival to trent SU’. Policies which are wholly inappropriate for an Student Union position with limited power and resources.

    I can’t claim to know the system particularly well, but surely a primary of some sort which enabled those with knowledge of the limitations of positions to judge a select few candidates, those who wouldn’t breach rules as such or wouldn’t campaign for ridiculous policies. This could actually lead to an election where everyone understood the candidates main policies, where realistic and responsible candidates were abundant, and when the choice of logo, or the levels of bribery employed, were not the major influences on voters.

  4. Pedant
    March 18, 2010 at 23:35 — Reply

    You confuse the terms “posthumously” and “retrospectively”. To my knowledge, Elections committee have not introduced any rules after the death of a candidate.

  5. Anon
    March 19, 2010 at 00:02 — Reply

    @Robert: well done!
    This person is clearly speaking for Wayne on this issue, and the open letter to elections committee seems to miss so many big issues in the running of this election and instead focuses on one of the ways in which, i believe, the Elections committee, actually came through for democracy and justice. Georgina, you seem to know very little about the elections committee, how for example would students outside the university that you propose to put on elections committee publicise the elections to students at THIS university? Also, all representations are investigated, and proof is required to warrant a ‘black mark’ (points) against a candidate, which they are also allowed to appeal, so this is not in any way the unjust system that you, and Wayne describes. Furthermore, have you not considered that what with the meeting Wayne had with the elections committee (where the many representations against him were considered) being secret that perhaps the version told to many by Wayne Chalom omits the larger, incredibly serious representations filed and proved against him in favour of the smaller ones that he has made out to be the central issue. I would urge you to conduct more than ’20 minutes’ research into this issue and not be so quick to believe everything you hear.

  6. Paul
    March 19, 2010 at 00:31 — Reply

    “I am utterly flabbergasted and astounded that an unaccountable and virtually unelected elections committee have the supreme power.”

    Unaccountable? Doesn’t the Appeals Committee exist almost exclusively to hold the decisions of Elections Committee to account? They’ve hardly got ‘supreme power’.

    Virtually unelected? The Democracy and Communications Officer was elected by cross-campus ballot (by 6000 or so people) and the rest of the committee was elected at SU council.

  7. Paul
    March 19, 2010 at 01:04 — Reply

    “The candidate is not to blame for the failings of the ‘powers that be’ to include criteria which they have since decided should be. If anything, the candidate should be awarded for his use of imagination. If the committee felt there were problems inherent in the rules system, they should have initiated a review of the system and the subsequent report should have instigated change and reform which should have been implemented in time for the next election. Not this one. ”

    The rules are in place to ensure a fair election. However exhaustive the list of rules is, it would be impossible to legislate against every possible method of acquiring an unfair advantage. Some things, whilst not obviously against the rules, are obviously illegitimate/unfair campaigning methods.

    If Wayne knew the owner of Nottingham Cars, for example, he might be able to get dozens of drivers to tell anyone picked up from campus to “Vote Wayne”. That wouldn’t be against the rules, but it would obviously give him an advantage other candidates could not have accessed.

    Elections Committee made clear that if you weren’t sure whether something was allowed, you should check with them, so it’s probably fair to say that Wayne kept a fair few of his campaign ideas to himself, for whatever reason.

    “It is intrinsically wrong that they have the power to remove and punish candidates who did not break any present, pre-written and agreed rules. ”

    His removal from the elections seems to suggest that he most likely broke the agreed rules. His Facebook message on the Friday suggested he’d been accused of at least two formal rule breaks.

  8. Paul
    March 19, 2010 at 01:25 — Reply

    “To add insult to considerable injury, candidates in the position of Wayne are as he accurately described “guilty until proven innocent”. The appeals committee does not meet until after the elections. Who on Earth thought that was a good idea? Surely in cases such as these, the appeals committee should be drawn in almost immediately – and before the candidate is removed. In exactly whose interest is it to conduct the appeal after the election? It has the potential to initiate a by-election, with the original winning candidate perhaps then being stripped of their position if the de-selected candidate is elected. Unquestionably this stupid policy is not in the interests of the other candidates. It is not in the interests of the electorate. (Who as far as I can gather, are rather apathetic in the first round, let alone if a second round was required) and it is most certainly not in the interests of the candidate under fire – who may have already lost their credible reputation, as well as being put in the unenviable position of having to defend their character.”

    Wayne was “found guilty” by the Elections Committee, who no doubt gave him the opportunity to defend himself. A process of ascertaining guilt has occurred, whatever its merits and faults. If they chucked him out as soon as accusations against him were submitted, that would have been a case of guilty until proven innocent.

    If Dwain Chambers had said in 2003 that the drugs test he’d failed had been a mistake, would it have made any sense to try to rush an appeal through on the morning of a race he was competing in? As far as I can see, the most sensible course of action is to make a judgment based on the existing balance of evidence and prepare a proper and unbiased appeals process.

  9. Former elections committee member
    March 19, 2010 at 01:46 — Reply

    Having served on elections committee in the past it is not the most glamorous of positions: long meetings, uppity candidates wishing to explain away why they lost, hours upon hours of counting.

    I have no idea whether Wayne’s complaints are justified or not. What I do know is there is an appeals process which should be allowed to take its course.

  10. Michael Etienne
    March 19, 2010 at 20:43 — Reply

    I agree with the central theme of George’s letter. We should also remember the points raised about such basic decisions as where to hold hustings, the effect of this year being to exclude significant parts of the student population.

    The elections committee was totally unaccountable. Council blocked certain proposals in relation to campaign days etc which were then just dressed up under another name with the same practical effect.

    It is a fundamental principle of fair democracy that one cannot be a judge in their own cause and that rules should not be retroactive and yet we have seen the opposite evidenced in the last few weeks.

    These events have shown that the current administration of our elections- which are no less significant because they aren’t “real life” elections- this is after all a union and should act like one- is in a mess and must undergo a root and branch reform before next year.

  11. March 19, 2010 at 21:15 — Reply

    It’s not hard to find faults in our system; what is difficult is to find effective ways to fix these faults. To say that Elections Committee is not accountable is not entirely accurate: as with most SU positions, it is accountable to Council through the Returning Officer’s report and the Democracy and Communication Officer’s report, both of which Council can decide not to accept. This may not be good enough but it is the current position.

    @Georgina
    You don’t need to wait until next year and to be elected to the Democracy and Communications Officer to change the system – anyone can bring proposals to Council! Or why not join Elections Committee at the start of next year?

    @Paul
    Re: “If Wayne knew the owner of Nottingham Cars, for example, he might be able to get dozens of drivers to tell anyone picked up from campus to “Vote Wayne”. That wouldn’t be against the rules, but it would obviously give him an advantage other candidates could not have accessed.”
    When I ran for Exec it was made very clear that this kind of activity would only be acceptable if the drivers would do this for any candidate that asked. Same with, say, putting up posters in a shop – if they allow one they must allow them all.

  12. Jon Parka
    March 24, 2010 at 11:35 — Reply

    I agree with the letter Georgina!! Its such a secretive committee I didn’t even know it existed until all the issues arose such as alcohol being served at questioning times for candidates! I think it should be a transparent system where people can view what the candidates have allegedly done! Now Wayne’s name is blemished as a cheater and I don’t even know what he was kicked off for or if it was justified! I’m fairly sure candidates don’t have to sign non-disclosure agreements, or do they? It seems that if elections committee didn’t like a candidate they could make sure they went through hell and there would be nothing that the rest of the student populous or candidate could do until after elections!!! This appeals committee meets after the results?! What use is that? Meaning that the wronged candidate would be cleared but to nowhere near the extent of the publicity of their withdrawal, also that would mean the candidates would have to run again, I saw how much effort lots of them put in, another 2 weeks of torture during a less publicised time!

    This whole affair seems absolutely ridiculous to me! I too have lost faith in our union, and see that at the end of the day, democracy resorts to a few people sitting a room discussing who they don’t like. Also to Robert who is so quick to point out others mistakes. Wayne didn’t get “creamed by almost 2000 votes, which is remarkable seeing as he spent most of his time breaking rules” because having been removed he cannot have lost by almost 2000 votes as technically he didn’t receive any, not being counted in the race anymore i.e. if hes not in a position to win he cant have been in a position to lose!! Also as you seem to know so much perhaps you would like to list all the rules that he broke? Considering that its kept a secret I sure would like to know how you know so much. Or just a case of dogmatism?

  13. Paul
    March 25, 2010 at 12:41 — Reply

    “I think it should be a transparent system where people can view what the candidates have allegedly done! Now Wayne’s name is blemished as a cheater and I don’t even know what he was kicked off for or if it was justified!”

    Surely if there was a publically available list of what Wayne had been accused of, Wayne’s name would be far more tarnished than it currently is? At present people who want to know why Wayne was chucked out can just ask Wayne himself, rather than rely upon a list of accusations.

    If Wayne actually agreed with Georgina Marsh about the importance of this information being public, he would make the information public in an effort to clear his name. But that would be foolish, because he is no more capable of proving his own innocence than elections committee were of proving his guilt.

  14. Scott Perkins
    March 25, 2010 at 13:51 — Reply

    As a candidate in this year’s election, I think that Paul has a very valid point.

    Sure, I broke the rules (just the once), and I can categorically state that I would not mind that being out in the public domain. However, even I do not know what I have been found guilty of because I faced more than one reprimand for one action. I honestly think that if a candidate is found guilty of breaking the rules by elections committee, it should be stated in the public domain.

    I think that this system would give people who aren’t in the ‘elections bubble’ an insight into what the candidates are really like. It would encourage more people to vote because the whole elections system would seem a lot more transparent. On top of this, I would assume that the candidates would be encouraged to run a much cleaner campaigns.

    However, this is just one thing that needs altering in an archaic elections system. I hope that elections committee bring as many amendments to the next council meeting as they have been doing throughout the year. It wasn’t (mostly) the people on the committee this year who were at fault, it was the system.

  15. Matt
    March 26, 2010 at 17:47 — Reply

    Does any of this actually fucking matter?

    This university has the most depoliticised student body in the history of student politics. Most of its students are apathetic/stupid/shallow, and most of its candidates are posh twats or cuntish social-worshippers who want nothing more than to fill their CV, fund their parties or spend endless hours organising ostentatious events that amount to nothing or have little value.

    Here’s an idea…ABOLISH the SU and put the money back into the education system.

  16. Sam
    March 27, 2010 at 14:08 — Reply

    @Matt

    That is one of the most ignorant comments that I have ever read. The only good thing that would come out of the SU being abolished (which incidentally it couldn’t be under British Law) would be the ceasing of Impact and so the forum it provides you in which you to spout your s*!t.

  17. Paul
    March 28, 2010 at 02:22 — Reply

    “This university has the most depoliticised student body in the history of student politics.”

    20 percent is a comparatively high turnout, funnily enough.

  18. Matt
    March 28, 2010 at 16:32 — Reply

    @Sam

    JUSTIFY its existence then! Do something of worth. Impact could be organised without the SU. The only time the SU enters peoples lives is to spend shit loads of money refurbishing the Den (which is shit and pointless), or to push a load of ex-Eton/Harrow/RGS wankers out onto campus to annoy everyone during election time! If you do stand for something then stand for them VISIBLY. Be visible other than the 14 days a year where everyone wants everyone to vote for their mate. The SU is a perfect example of how Notts students are style over substance.

    20% of the student society voting does not mean they’re politicised. The majority of people who had a go at me for not voting had a view sort of like this:

    Generic Nottingham Idiot: Want a lollipop?
    Matt: No
    Generic Nottingham Idiot: Ah alright, just make sure you vote
    Matt: I don’t vote in this election. It’s a ridiculous validation of an institution that deserves little respect.
    Generic Nottingham Idiot: OMG BUT it’s important to vote. You have to vote. Please vote
    Matt: So it’s important to vote as long as I vote for your friend?
    Generic Nottingham Idiot: Errrrrr weellll ummmm
    Matt: So what does your friend stand for?
    Generic Nottingham Idiot: Errrrrrm…more free stuff!
    Matt: Precisely.

    That’s not politicisation. That’s voting for your mate to give them something to put on their CV.

    And the WORST thing is that you all defend it to the hilt!!!!! No-one can say anything negative about the SU cabal! No-one dare criticise the fact that it lacks sincerity, substance and represents nothing but superficiality and nepotism.

  19. Dalia Fleming
    March 28, 2010 at 17:51 — Reply

    So I ran in the election and I’m over whelmingly involved in the SU..so i have bias. And I openly love our SU, but I also openly criticise it. Our council isn’t representative, not enough in previous years has been done on tuition fees..etc..but it does a lot of good..and just to give you an idea of what it does do..i’m going to write a list. its not everything, but some of what it does.

    All the students who are involved in Impact have got some amazing experience being involved in something that few people at their age can say they have done (been published, edited, etc.)

    ..but here (in my opinion is some of what the SU gives you).

    In no particular order :

    – Representation to the University. Which you may question but the University do listen to the SU (and the SU does listen to the University).
    – A union to represent your educational needs
    – The Student Advice and Representational Centre
    – AU – All our sports clubs
    – All our Student Run Services – Karni, Summer party, CD library, Nightline, New Theatre, Impact, URN, NUTS, TEC, Week One
    – All our club nights – Oceana, Cr-ISIS, Ocean
    – All our societies
    – All our Representational Networks and all our associations
    – The ability for our students to get invovled in National Politics in NUS
    – Discount Card
    – Mooch/Den
    – The SU Shop
    – Highlights issues relevant to our students, encouraging students to register, welfare issues etc.

    They are just some of the more generic things our SU does. But if you speak to any of our Exec or anyone involved in our SU..they can tell you something they have done to improve or help our students. From a member of a society who encouraged a fresher to get more involved in something to our Exec who have ensured that departments have more contact time with students.

    Our SU may not always seem like it is listening or doing anything. But it is. It is giving students at our university some of the experiences they would get no where else – how many people can say they have been in a comittee running a theatre…or been a treasurer etc or been part of any number of our awesome societies. our SU not only represents but provides some great opportunities for our Students to have a way better time at University.

    I hope this gives you some reason to believe that our SU should exist and that when you say ‘Does any of this actually f*****g matter?’ I would say yes.

  20. Anon.
    March 28, 2010 at 22:51 — Reply

    Some good points Dalia.

    I’ve always wondered about the ‘SU club nights’.

    What does the phrase actually mean?

    The SU obviously doesn’t own the buildings, or the nights as far as I can tell. What does the SU actually have to do with them, apart from putting their seal of approval on them and *as far as I can remember*, getting a cut from ticket sales?

  21. Ben Lucy
    March 28, 2010 at 23:16 — Reply

    This is a good letter where it highlights flaws in the system (e.g. the appeals process), but it is a terrible letter where it descends into wild speculation about the integrity of the elections committee.

    Does the writer honestly believe that the flaws in the system are due to elections being run by corrupted students with a sinister agenda, and that if she were involved she could transform the elections into some sort of utopia?

  22. Luke Place
    March 29, 2010 at 05:01 — Reply

    “JUSTIFY its existence then! Do something of worth. Impact could be organised without the SU.”

    Plenty of things could be organised without the SU, but that doesn’t make the SU pointless. It provides many services that students want, as Dalia shows above.

    “If you do stand for something then stand for them VISIBLY. Be visible other than the 14 days a year where everyone wants everyone to vote for their mate. The SU is a perfect example of how Notts students are style over substance.”

    The election rules clearly state that you can’t campaign outside of the 2 week election period. I’d suggest that many candidates won this year because they had good policies.

    Candidates who promised better and cheaper Week One and Summer Party tickets generally got more votes than their competitors, as did candidates who promised a free hopper bus service or an improved SU website. Most people who voted (over 7000 I believe) did so having only met/spoken to a minority of the candidates, so manifestos (and thus policies) are obviously important.

  23. Matt
    March 29, 2010 at 12:19 — Reply

    – Representation to the University. Which you may question but the University do listen to the SU (and the SU does listen to the University).

    Seem to do very little of this.

    – A union to represent your educational needs

    Once again…just words. This means nothing.

    – The Student Advice and Representational Centre

    Fair enough

    – AU – All our sports clubs

    Thank GOD for them. Where on earth would we be without all 50 billion of them. Oh probably organising them without the SU…yer that’s probably where we’d be.

    – All our Student Run Services – Karni, Summer party, CD library, Nightline, New Theatre, Impact, URN, NUTS, TEC, Week One

    Again…praise be to a higher power that we are blessed with these great things. Karni – the most distasteful form of ‘charity’ I’ve ever had the displeasure of participating in. Again…all the other things could be organised without the SU.

    – All our club nights – Oceana, Cr-ISIS, Ocean

    Because without the SU organising these nights students in Nottingham would be doing…….knitting? paint-dry-watching?

    – All our societies

    I joined 5 of these in 1st year. The most pointless thing I’ve ever done.

    – All our Representational Networks and all our associations

    Again…just words. No substance.

    – The ability for our students to get invovled in National Politics in NUS

    LOL. This is priceless. There’s just so many things wrong with this assumption. But the self-righteousness behind the statement is the worst thing. You continue believing this my dear, and maybe one day it’ll become semi-reality.

    – Discount Card

    Fairplay.

    – Mooch/Den

    LOL. Again. The Den? The Mooch? I wouldn’t be parading two wastes of money as plus points. The Mooch is a joke compared to other student campus bars in the UK. And as for the Den….

    – The SU Shop

    Fairplay. Though it doesn’t stock Earl Grey but I guess we can let that slide.

    – Highlights issues relevant to our students, encouraging students to register, welfare issues etc.

    Again. More words. No substance.

    Look. The SU cabal can continue parading itself supposed list of things it is in order to validate its own existence. You can continue to sit there with your fingers in your ears and your eyes closed like some deranged old widower rambling about her dead husbands old achievements. But honestly, the SU needs to have a long hard look at itself because it makes a mockery of student politics and activism.

    Oh and as for the notion that “I’d suggest that many candidates won this year because they had good policies.” That is quite frankly the most absurd case of selective perception I’ve ever seen. Again…you continue telling yourself that and one day, just one day, substance might return to the students of this shit university.

    Christ almighty. No wonder we’re sinking like a lead balloon in the league tables.

    P.S. Here’s a job for you SU. Go and ask the people in the Hallward why the UoN-Secure network is so shit. You’d have thought with the amount of money that this university is able to pay its senior staff it would at least be able to cobble together an internet connection that is quicker than some iron-age forms of communication.

  24. David
    March 29, 2010 at 13:55 — Reply

    ‘You can continue to sit there with your fingers in your ears and your eyes closed like some deranged old widower ‘ – Seems to sum up your own approach quite nicely really.

    What Dalia pointed out is what the SU actually does, regardless of if you personally use those things or not. I’ve not had a good experience with Societies here either, and I’ve had nothing to do with the AU at all, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a LOT of students have benefitted massively from their existence in one way or another. Yes, some things could be done better, and in some cases things need sorting out in a major way in my opinion, but those things don’t disguise the fact that the SU does a lot of good for the students here regardless of if they realise it or not.

    And in a way, that not realising it is a credit to the SU, since I firmly believe that in terms of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff the only time people find out about various negotiations is when they go wrong. To give an example, I’m currently a School Rep and, alongside the ‘basic’ problem-solving representation stuff, over the course of my time in the education network I’ve talked with staff about major overhauls to the degree programmes within my School so they are making changes that benefit everyone and not just the staff, had a core 2nd year module changed in scope to make it more standardised for the students taking it (as different people were being told different things when I did it, due to it being personal-tutor led), and had a start-of-3rd-year dissertation lecture arranged so everyone gets the same generic advice ahead of it. And this is change that doesn’t benefit me given I’ve already experienced the things that seemed wise to change, and the students in the School I represent will never know the involvement I had in it. I fully expect that a lot of them think that the ‘SU does nothing for me’, which is fine with me; I’ve been involved to make the experience of students better, not for any kind of personal accolade or recognition (hence my not saying which School, since it doesn’t matter).

    Of course, if you don’t like what it does you could always get involved and help to make the changes you wish to see, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved on many levels. I really don’t get this whole ‘man, everything sucks and it’s all rubbish, but I can’t be bothered to actually do anything myself’ attitude. You want to make student politics and activism less of a ‘mockery’? Then get involved and do it, be that as an active member of the SU as so many students are, or by offering constructive criticism from the outside rather than just throwing petty insults around, since they help no-one at all.

  25. Luke Place
    March 29, 2010 at 14:42 — Reply

    “Oh and as for the notion that “I’d suggest that many candidates won this year because they had good policies.” That is quite frankly the most absurd case of selective perception I’ve ever seen. Again…you continue telling yourself that and one day, just one day, substance might return to the students of this shit university. Christ almighty. No wonder we’re sinking like a lead balloon in the league tables.”

    The only candidate who promised to improve Nottingham’s standing in the league tables got elected. I think it’s probably quite difficult to win 1795 votes with style rather than substance.

  26. Dalia Fleming
    March 29, 2010 at 15:59 — Reply

    If you want a substantial response from me, than I can give one. But I second David on most of what he has said. I can personally give you a list of things I have done and others that have change the way the University treats its students and also how the SU works, but shouting about it from the roof tops is not always the way people like to do things. Some people take the knowledge that changes has been made for the best as reward enough.

    If you knew me you would know I am very openly critical about our SU but I get involved to change it and improve things. You seem to criticise from a distance and let your (unfortunately) limited or bad experiences with the SU guide you.

  27. Anon89
    March 29, 2010 at 23:01 — Reply

    @ Scott Perkins “I think that this system would give people who aren’t in the ‘elections bubble’ an insight into what the candidates are really like. It would encourage more people to vote because the whole elections system would seem a lot more transparent. On top of this, I would assume that the candidates would be encouraged to run a much cleaner campaigns.” – I think this is very good suggestion. Run for Elections Committee?

    “It wasn’t (mostly) the people on the committee this year who were at fault, it was the system” I agree completely, I think a major review is required, and major reforms need to be brought to Council

    @ Jon Parka – It’s not a ‘secretive committee’. Its job is to publicise the elections, not itself, a job which I think it did very well.

    “It seems that if elections committee didn’t like a candidate they could make sure they went through hell and there would be nothing that the rest of the student populous or candidate could do until after elections!!!”
    What makes it seem like this to you? On what basis are you saying this?
    “This appeals committee meets after the results?! What use is that”
    Erm, the use of it is that a candidate can appeal, and if he wins his appeal there’ll be a by-election…thought that might be pretty clear as that’s what’s happened here.

    @ Sam, brilliant initial comeback.

    @ Matt – Do you think the hundreds of people who participate in societies every week see them as ‘the most pointless thing’ they’ve ever done?

    “- All our Student Run Services – Karni, Summer party, CD library, Nightline, New Theatre, Impact, URN, NUTS, TEC, Week One
    Again…praise be to a higher power that we are blessed with these great things. Karni – the most distasteful form of ‘charity’ I’ve ever had the displeasure of participating in. Again…all the other things could be organised without the SU.”
    In your SU-less world, where would things like NUTS and Impact get their funding from? Sure, some of the things, such as WeekOne and Karni could run by themselves without SU involvement, but if you speak to anyone involved with them, they’ll tell you how much better off they are with the SU’s help. I won’t disagree with you that some of the antics involved with Karni are distasteful, but I don’t think it causes too much offence as these distasteful scenes are behind closed doors. Bus doors normally, but still. If you consider the amount of good that Karni does with local, national, and international charities (it raised over £1 million last year…in case you didn’t get that first time, it was over £1 million), and the opportunities it gives students at this university (climbing Kili/Everest, Cycling to Paris, trekking the Great Wall of China, Skydiving, visiting other cities, getting involved with Charity Balls/Markets/Fun Walks, being part of a team or committee) as well as making many people’s University experience much more fun, I think it is one of the best things that our Union provides.

    “AU – All our sports clubs
    Thank GOD for them. Where on earth would we be without all 50 billion of them. Oh probably organising them without the SU…yer that’s probably where we’d be” Do you genuinely believe this? You actually believe that our IMS system (which is the biggest in the country), our varsity series (the biggest outside of the states), and all of AU clubs (who finished top 10 in BUCS again) would function to anywhere near the same standard or provide anywhere near the same enjoyment without SU involvement?

    Do you think all of the people who are represented by Networks and Associations, who are given a voice by them, who are given an opportunity to interact with similar people see them as of no substance?

    “Highlights issues relevant to our students, encouraging students to register, welfare issues etc. Again. More words. No substance.” Other than the massive campaign they’ve been running recently to get people to register to vote in the General Election this year of course? On top of them changing the system so that first years are automatically registered now. I’m not sure of the exact figures, you’ll have to ask the Exec, but that’s at least 7,000 people they’ve got registered straight off – no substance?

    “Here’s a job for you SU. Go and ask the people in the Hallward why the UoN-Secure network is so shit. You’d have thought with the amount of money that this university is able to pay its senior staff it would at least be able to cobble together an internet connection that is quicker than some iron-age forms of communication”
    So…are you angry at the SU, or at the University here? Don’t know? I’m pretty sure that Stu Bailey doesn’t have a say in how much the Uni pays its senior staff. Or how much they put into the internet connection. Yea, it’s something the SU can lobby the University to increase if they feel it is an issue important to students. Write it in the SU Big Review, and if it seems to be something that students want changed, then I’m sure the SU will get on the case, and, as with everything they do, will put their all into it. I’m pretty sure they don’t put an effort rating on their CV -I think it might be because they care.

    You strike me as the most cynical, and by the sound of it least involved person at this University, although writing in this forum is a start. As other people in this thread have already suggested, as you seem so passionate about these issues that you see within the Union, and as from the way you talk about them you speak as if you believe you represent a substantial student view – get involved. Be the change you want to see in the Union.

    I nearly got distracted from the whole point of contributing to this forum by the discussion above, so, with regards to the letter: Georgia, I agree with most of the early comments in this thread. Your letter, although raising some very important issues, is full of inaccuracies, ridiculous analogies and far too many diacritics for your own good. However, I think that you tie up the letter in a good fashion, and I think your conclusions about the need for reform (which I’ve said above I agree is required) and that you’re now considering running next year are excellent. But maybe next time before boasting about how quickly you managed to gather your info – make sure that it isn’t just a case of you having done a lack of research.

    Regards,
    Anon89

  28. March 29, 2010 at 23:50 — Reply

    @Matt: I will respond to one part of your comment.

    RE: SRSes aside from karni: ‘Again…all the other things could be organised without the SU.’

    Impact are given approximately £26,00 by the SU every year to print their magazine, provide this website, and allow you to have the discussion that you are having here.

    No SU, no Impact, no chance of it ever being organised otherwise.

    Unless you have a better suggestion?

    Aside from that, I would suggest making yourself better informed before entering any discussion about our Union; you’re just embarrassing yourself.

  29. Anon
    March 30, 2010 at 19:49 — Reply

    @Procrasti – I disagree. Impact could exist without funding from the SU, it would just be quite different. Its print run would likely be much smaller or it’d be totally online but it could exist.

    Impact has brought in enough money from advertising in the past to cover all of its costs (even though it doesn’t currently).

  30. roflcopter
    March 30, 2010 at 20:43 — Reply

    Procrasti- becasue as we all know, there is no such thing as “advertising”, or publications being “bought” for “money.” Furthermore, websites (and other online venues where this discussion could taske place) are incredibly expensive to run, especially ones that are hosted for free and facebook groups.

  31. Anon89
    March 30, 2010 at 22:08 — Reply

    @ Anon: Yes, Impact could still exist without the SU, but like you say, in a very different form. And I don’t know whether there are figures for this, but from what I can tell, I’d say a lot more read impact in the hard copies that are very well placed all round campus, as opposed to going online. So if it was just online, it would get less exposure, less readers, and this would probably lead to less contributors, so all in all a much worse-off Student magazine.

    It has in the past brought in enough money to cover its own costs, but it doesn’t at the moment, so without the safety net of the SU it wouldn’t be able to be doing what it is today.

    @ roflcopter: In all honesty I really doubt whether anyone would ‘buy’ Impact for ‘money’. Do you?

  32. Bruno
    March 30, 2010 at 22:31 — Reply

    Hi Anon 89 – Impact has around 4-4,500 physical copies per issue (6000 for the first issue of the year). As well as the website, we put the PDF of each issue online, hosted on Issuu.com.

    Issuu counts how many times the PDFs are downloaded/read.

    Issue 201 was featured on the front page of Issuu. It currently has over 48,000 views/downloads.

    Issue 202, which came out a few weeks ago already has over 12,000 views/downloads.

    You can find these figures by going to Issuu.com and searching for ‘Impact 201’ etc.

  33. Anon
    April 1, 2010 at 23:47 — Reply

    ‘Impact has brought in enough money from advertising in the past to cover all of its costs (even though it doesn’t currently).’

    I think this is a load of rubbish. Impact cant even afford to publish its last issue this year because the SU had to cut its budget slightly. Impact would be 100% screwed without the SU’s funding!

  34. Think before you post
    April 2, 2010 at 01:28 — Reply

    @Anon (otherwise known as Dave’s Hind)

    Impact only had one capable computer until half-way through last year and yet they still managed to produce the magazine using personal equipment.

    The Union’s marketing department is a f***ing joke- only managing to get one ad for some editions, whereas other Uni. magazines get several. With a dedicated student team getting ads, Impact could easily meet the SU funding line. They have broken even and made a profit before. FACT.

    The website costs nothing to keep afloat and has a readership in the tens of thousands. Without SU funding students would still receive an excellent electronic service without your money. (which, of course, you’d rather spend on a tossing yellow dog in some vain attempt to appeal to students who clearly would like to be thought of in higher regard- a fucking mascot- are you having a laugh?)

    Your assertion that Impact would be screwed without SU funding is utter nonsensical bull.

    GOOD DAY 😀

  35. Josh
    April 2, 2010 at 01:58 — Reply

    Impact could probably operate financially without the Students’ Union. If they were able to secure 6 full-page ads (or equivalent) per issue, and charged £750 for each on average (with back-page etc being pricier), that’d rake in £31,500 over the course of the 7 issues each year. If then they were able to utilise the website for perhaps another £3,500 over the course of the year, they’d be on £35,000 in total – more than enough to fund the magazine over the year.

    To be fair to Gary Cully, advertising hasn’t been so easy to find in the past couple of years. I would suggest this is a result of:
    a) the recession
    b) Nottingham’s plummet in reputation from top 10 to mid-20s as a university
    c) the decline in printed advertising and the move to other formats (employers now use Facebook and online graduate channels a lot more than they used to)

    You would therefore need someone with time on their hands to be more active in searching for ads. I get the impression that Gary currently waits for people to call him. This was fine when stacks of employers were banging at the gates to get their ad in the magazine, but that is simply not the case anymore.

  36. Anon 99
    April 2, 2010 at 12:41 — Reply

    Very well put Josh. My thoughts almost exactly.

  37. James
    April 3, 2010 at 00:20 — Reply

    Matt, mate, seriously, how involved are you actually? You may personally not enjoy all the facilities the SU provides but thousands of people do and its supports societys and events which simply couldn’t happen without greater funding-look at Gilbert and Sullivens societies recent production, the New Theatre, American Football, the IMS and so forth-none of these could exist without SU support and funding.

    If you seriosuly think we could support all our AU clubs without SU support and collective bargining (including the KPMG money) then your living in a dream world. I happen to enjoy being at a uni where I have the widest choice in the sports I want to play in the UK and can play at any level. Maybe your not into that but thousands of people are and get a great deal of fun out of it.

    You don’t seem to understand just what the SU does-the reason out club nights are so cheap is because of SU branding and support. The reason our drinks on campus are so cheap is because of the SU. I could go through every one of your points one by one but lets be honest, it’d be a waste of both of our time.

    How about you join a society and get involved, go to socials, see the speakers and take part in events. You might enjoy it…

    Oh, and enjoy posting on an SU funded website as you do so…

  38. April 3, 2010 at 10:26 — Reply

    James, the SU does not fund this website. As it says on the bottom of every page on this site, hosting is “donated by Thunderbolt.”

  39. Stu
    April 3, 2010 at 19:22 — Reply

    Quote: James, the SU does not fund this website. As it says on the bottom of every page on this site, hosting is “donated by Thunderbolt.”

    Yes but it probably would do if you didn’t have someone kindly donating it for free.

  40. April 3, 2010 at 21:00 — Reply

    And if my aunt was in possession of the proverbials she’d be my uncle?

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