It’s that time of year again. The time that is pretty much universally detested, when campaigners and flyers and awful stunts punctuate our daily lives on campus for around two weeks: The SU elections. Although, it has been rebranded this year to the Leadership Race but this title is really no more apt to describe the awful, unashamed popularity contest that the elections really are. Year on year, two types of student, for the most part. are elected. There are the ones who have been involved in the SU and multiple societies since Fresher’s Week, determined to be in with that House 6 crew and have worked their way up through a number of positions to eventually run for a position with the entirety of the Trinity hackdom behind them. Then there is the other type of student who reaches to a sabbatical office; the one with little experience but oodles of popularity who sometimes comes out of nowhere to beat the much more experienced or qualified student who was running against him or her. It’s unfortunate but it’s the way it goes. The most experienced or talented don’t necessarily win.
However, one of the more consistent issues with the SU Elections as a whole is the distinct lack of equal representation in terms of gender. Even though we have a female majority in terms of students in Trinity, the electorate as a history of mainly voting men into positions of power. It is baffling to think that a woman has never been directly elected to the office of SU President here. When women have held the position, they had previously held another Sabbatical position and ran for the office again the following year. It is evident though through the recent push for the Leadership Race and have open nominations that this is something that this year’s SU want to change. The deadline for nominations was Monday, and I do hope that the new means of nominating students will encourage more women to run for positions. I’m not advocating electing women to positions within the SU just for the sake of equality, but I do believe that there have plenty of girls in this college would have ample experience and would be well able to perform in any of the positions. There have been noted times in the past when talented girls who have ran and then lost to much less experienced guys who went against them and one has to wonder what this says about our electorate. Is it again that we don’t really care who’s elected or what they do when they get there, we’re just happy as long as the nice or popular guy makes the mandate becuase sure ‘he’ll be a bit of craic.’ Ideally, the most competent and experienced candidate would win but as in life that is not usually how it happens
There is also an issue with the number of students who run for these positions. In a university with such an active student body and where extra-curricular activites are revered, one would think that many would be grapling for these positions but it’s not always the case, especially when it comes to girls running. However, when one considers the cycle that has gone on previously. it’s not that surprising. Girls have to campaign harder and more intensively to get noticed while their male counterparts can get away with providing no policies and running around campus in a tiger onsie. It’s not fair and frankly would deter most girls from even considering running for a position, let alone President. It is still an old boys club. We have more female students than male and yet this years SU only has one female representative. Of course, there is also the issue of the numbers of those who vote. a marginal percentage of the student population vote in the elections and as such, many of the races end up being mere popularity contests. Despite all of this, I would sincerely encourage any girl considering running for a sabbatical position to please do so, whether it be this year or next. It will be hard, exhausting few weeks of organisation and campaigning and at the end of it all you may not win but you might and by more girls running, it will hopefully encourage more girls to run next year and more the year after that. What we would hopefully end up with more students running for positions across the board and a more gender equal SU.