An intimate affair, hosted in the meeting room, Monday’s emergency council involved the election of additional councillors, filling sub-committee positions and passing candidates packs.
The discussion of the candidates packs, particularly for the budgets of the Union Councillor elections, brought out the fateful and dangerous phrase, “can’t we just use common sense”.
In this context, the Union’s VP Democracy applied it to the sentence within the proposed rules, which reads: “candidates may not spend any money on their campaign”.
Now, I personally hate his choice of phrase, I think it is indicative of laziness, an unwillingness to do things properly and a complete lack of appreciation for the problems it can cause, especially because it is almost always applied to elections.
Lets take a brief look into the illustrious history of Loughborough Students’ Union; Chris “Tuesday” Peel got disqualifed for a breach of rules, but because of a loophole in both the candidates pack and constitution, was reinstated. Richard “Tricky” Smith was not disciplined after using some of Jimbo Cownley’s credits because it was not specifically outlined as a rule breach in the candidates pack.
In 2011, there was the realization that the entire set of elections, in theory, were illegitimate and unconstitutional, as uncovered by the Editor-in-Chief of The Epinal while a reporter at Label Magazine. And then who could forget last year’s Global DO situation?
All of these events placed a considerably bad taste in the mouths of those involved in the elections, placed undue strain on the candidates, and made Loughborough Students’ Union look just a little bit less professional than what we all expect it should.
Is this latest example any different? Of course not. A candidate could get sponsorship, could get a friend to buy things for them and pay it back; the list of ways to circumvent this rule is endless.
Now lets say this happens, how are all the other candidates going to feel if they are playing by the perceived rules and someone else is playing to the letter of the rules? Either they all feel cheated, or one candidate is unfairly punished. Again, neither make the Union look like it knows what its doing.
Just once, I would like to see a candidates pack written precisely, accurately and comprehensively so there are no gaping loopholes, no controversy, and no confusion. Elections are not the place for discretion, they are not the place for grey areas, they are the place for black and white, right and wrong, allowed and not allowed.
As we have seen time and time again, a candidates pack anything less than watertight will lead to drama, sniping and generally unprofessional behaviour; so no, we can’t just use common sense.