2016 has been a big year for politics and elections, it seems!
Never have I felt as much anxiety as I did sitting in front of the television on the 8th November, waiting for the results of the 2016 US Election to roll in.
It’s been a long 18 months of ups and downs, playground tactics, and a whole lot of petty name-calling, but the end is here, albeit with a disappointing result. The votes have been cast and a winner is apparently clear from the public vote, although the electoral vote doesn’t take place just yet and we won’t know for sure until January (American politics are confusing)
Although it may seem that this post is just a means for me to gently vent my frustrations, I do have a point.
When it comes to big elections, we all tend to get involved, express our opinions, and most importantly, cast our votes. In smaller elections, such as those for local councils, society committees, or even what to have for tea, we all tend to duck out and not bother.
People’s main reasons for this are always the same. ‘It’s so insignificant’, ‘It doesn’t affect me’, ‘No-one votes anyway’. However, since coming to University I’ve found that if anything, the small things make the biggest impact on a personal level.
As a part of Langwith College, I recently voted for the LCSA for the next year having not done so last year. As a squeaky clean fresher, I had a similar mindset to most people and thought that whoever was elected couldn’t do enough to make a difference to me. Funnily enough, I was wrong.
Over the last year, much of what I did outside of my degree was planned, organised and run by the 20-odd students on the LCSA and without their hard work and dedication, I don’t think it would have been half the first year it was. That being said, I made a conscious effort to put in my two cents this year and feel mildly accomplished for it, albeit with the final results still pending.
For me, positions such as the LGBT officer and the events officers made the most difference, but with such diversity in college representative positions, everyone can make a difference for anyone.
Last year I attended college LGBT coffee mornings and socials, meeting people from the community I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I attended all but one of the college formals (buying far too many suits in the process but at least I looked good!), and bought college merchandise that I will most probably keep in as close to mint condition as I can (I’m a nostalgic fool). This list is nothing compared to what was on offer throughout the year.
This is where my point comes in, as this year I used my votes to hopefully elect the people who would do what I feel benefits myself and the college most. Without voting, I would potentially have people who I wasn’t as keen on and wouldn’t have a leg to stand on (or should I say, complain on). I’ve come to be so grateful that York offers such fantastic opportunities for democracy in every corner. We vote for NUS membership, Student Union representatives, society committees (you do have to be a member) and college associations. When I was 17 and visiting potential universities, I can’t remember any other university having such good student involvement and representation. A large part of that comes from the collegiate system here, something which is found in less than 20 universities across the country (according to Wikipedia). Colleges provide something akin to a second family along with a good old fashioned sense of comradeship and healthy (most of the time) competition.
College committees, aside from being a good voice for the students in each of the University’s 9 colleges, are also a great, built in opportunity to get involved in college life and get your voice heard. They’re great ways to meet people from other colleges and I’d say what makes collegiate university life so darn great.