& opinion


Today sees the annual sabbatical election fever week draw to a close, as the 20-strong group of candidates braves the elements one final time before the results are announced this evening in Falmer Bar. Armed with flyers, banners, posters, stereos, balloons and even a motorbike, they have done their utmost to get your attention and, more importantly, your vote in what has been a fierce competition for the six union positions.

Fulfilling another Sussex tradition, the election has been the focus of the usual debates on student politics, representation, and national education issues, plus the crucial subject of union funding. As anyone who spoke to the candidates will know, all positions were contested by students with a wide variety of personalities and very individual approaches to how they would handle the job. Zaki El-Salahi, campaigning for Education Officer, admitted "We’ve got a real struggle on our hands just to get the university to provide us with a basic education. For that we need to strengthen our union and I think we can do that. Better than good representation is a union that’s run by its members!" Finance hopeful Jenny Deane agreed that tackling the university management is a "really tough job, but we need to make the university aware of how an underfunded union will affect its attractiveness as an academic institution."

However, for the student body, opinions on the election process and candidates manifestos in particular were more diverse. Fiona, SMS, gave her views. "I think the elections are important, as we deserve a say in who runs the union, but they’ve only got so much power and some things can’t be changed." There was also the obvious, but unspoken acceptance that this has merely been a popularity contest masquerading as a democratic election. James, an engineering student, was adamant that he would not be voting. "Everyone always votes for their friends anyway, so what’s the point?" However, most students seemed happy that their sole reason for voting was because they knew one of the candidates. Anne, a second year economics student, confessed that she was not taking the election particularly seriously as the outcome wouldn’t affect her. "I think there’s quite a group of students who care a lot about union politics, but their lives are probably centered more around campus than mine."

As the students who care about the future of the union, nervously await tonight’s results, the rest of campus can return to normality and the library without the risk of being accosted by flyer-wielding candidates and their entourage.