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We Can’t Just Use Common Sense

October 16, 2012 · James Carroll

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.


James Carroll

James Carroll

James is a former Council Chair at Loughborough Students' Union.
James Carroll
James Carroll

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Posted by on October 16, 2012. Filed under Columnists,James Carroll.
  • Councillor

    Would it not have been easier to point this out when the papers were first uploaded for the originally billed council, over 2 weeks ago, than to leave it, and raise it more as an attack on the VP Democracy.
    Would the real common sense have been to report the error so an amendment could be drafted, or even make an amendment yourself, rather than bringing it up when it’s too late for anyone to do anything?

  • Lisa

    I can see what you mean Rambo and maybe that one sentence in that one small section of the pack did need a couple of words altered but I think it’s totally unfair for you to make such an issue here. Ali is doing a great job so far and is working really hard to stick to everything he promised to do in his manifesto. By all means, let him know what he could do to improve, but you also need to give credit where credit is due.

  • Bob

    Lisa, I’m pretty sure James has given credit where credit is due…

  • Rambo

    @Councillor: It is by no means raised as an attack on the VP Democracy. In fact, had I spotted it earlier then I would’ve raised such issue as I have done for other motions. I do feel however that you’ve missed the point somewhat, whilst this particular candidates pack was only the catalyst for the article it is the latest in a “less than squeaky clean” Elections saga that frankly has left a lot of people wondering if/when an Election without any issues will be run.

    @Lisa: You’re right, Ali is doing a good job, so are the rest of Exec, thus my request to congratulate them in council. However, it is our jobs as student representatives to scrutinise the executive and discuss anything we feel isn’t right – and with the executive admitting that it was a loophole, clearly this wasn’t quite right. The reason I have such an issue is not this particular candidates pack, but the attempt to use “common sense” as some kind of filler to smooth over gaps and cracks which eventually lead to the issues we’ve all seen and heard about.