As a young fresher arriving at university, I was expecting a hotbed of political debating regarding cuts in the NHS or the role of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition.
In reality, I was shocked to find there was no Liberal Democrat society present at the Union Bazaar and both the Labour Student and the Conservative Future societies failed to meet the minimum number of 20 students required to form a society.
As little as 44% of people of the 18 – 24 age group voted in the 2010 general election, with even less turning out in the local elections. This trend of poor turnout is a problem that affects all parts of the UK and is not one unique to Loughborough University. However, as an institution, maybe one reason why we don’t buck this trend is we have no student political party organisation interacting with the student body.
This is not for lack of trying however; numerous attempts to set up political societies within the union have failed due to their inability to find enough students to reach the minimum number of people.
Does this show that we as a university are politically inactive and simply don’t care about politics? In my opinion, the answer is no.
Loughborough University has one of the most active student bodies in the land. We have the Model United Nations society which focuses on debating issues and developments that affect the United Nations. Loughborough Students’ Union also has Time For Change, a society affiliated to Amnesty International and People and Planet, which observes issues not only located in our own country but politics all over the world.
This university is a hotbed of student politics, just not in its typical form. The Loughborough student body could be seen as not involving itself with the ‘omnishambles’ that is our own nation’s politics, but instead attempts to understand the politics of the world.
So, student politics is not dead with regards to our lack of interest in national politics. Rather, it reflects an ever more common apathy for party politics within student bodies around the UK via the creation of MUN and human rights societies in UK university institutions.
Long live this new brand of student politics.