It's election season again; that two week rush on campus, dominated by colourful flyers and A4 manifestos, all clinging to the walls and windows of Surrey's buildings. Maybe this year's candidates are out on the street, waving their flyers around, dressed in yellow and blue and red, begging for just a few moments of your time. Just long enough for them to get their point across. You don't care. You've got a deadline in two days and three lectures to catch up on. Maybe you're a first year and this Surrey Decides buzz is brand new to you. Maybe you're a third year and you've seen this all before; you've successfully dodged the smiling faces and swanky tag-lines for two years prior to this. What's one more year? You're here to get a degree and that's all. You don't care for politics. You don't care for the Union. Maybe you don't even know what they do.
Maybe this is you, but it doesn't have to be. The hope is that you'll have already come across your Students' Union here at Surrey, preferably within your first few days as a Fresher. Maybe you've seen the red t-shirts at Freshers' Fair, or watched the beaming face of our current Union President, Alex Harden, pop up on an Instagram or Snapchat story. This much you may have seen, but how much do you really know about what your Students' Union does for you? And why should you care about who the next round of Officers will be?
Well, there are a number of reasons. It's possible that you're not even fully aware of the ways in which your current Students' Union has affected you and your life as a student studying at Surrey. In the past few years alone, the Students' Union officers have been responsible for a number of changes that will most likely have affected you and your peers. It's the Students' Union and their ongoing KWAF (Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free) campaign that you have to thank for your lecture-free Wednesday afternoons. It's the Community Zone that advise on the acts and artists at Rubix during Freshers' Week, for the much-cherished Citrus and Flirt nights that run weekly. The Community Zone that are responsible for the new lockers by the library, providing a place for you to leave that 20KG textbook of your for a few hours, until you actually need it. Thanks to this year's VP Community, Gemma Paine, accommodation options now include lifestyle choices, such as alcohol-free accommodation.
And that's only one zone. It's the Support Zone that runs monthly well-being campaigns, and work closely with the University's confidential listening service, Nightline. The Support Zone whom - just a few weeks ago - have made it so you no longer have to pay the £20 fee in order to apply for Extenuating Circumstances; that offered free STI screenings to hundreds of students during Sexual Health and Guidance Week last October.
You have the Voice Zone to thank for your course reps, the student representatives that speak directly to the University on your behalf about all the issues you and your peers face within your course. The Faculty Voice Forums that highlight the academic concerns of your cohort and stick it to the proverbial man.
It's the Activity Zone that run Varsity, Colours Ball, who share your hard work, and the hard work of your societies, on their @surreyvolunteering and @surreysocs Instagram accounts. The Activity Zone that have dedicated volunteers within their team, working toward bettering the ways in which your sport clubs and societies are run; all making it just that little bit easier for you to do what you love doing here at Surrey.
There are so many aspects of your life as a student at Surrey that are linked, in some way, to the involvement of the Students' Union. And the hint is in the name, isn't it? The Students' Union: it's for you, the student.
So why should you care who is and who isn't part of the Union next year? Why should you care which candidate is elected and which candidate isn't? Why should you vote in Surrey Decides? It boils down to one question, really, and that question is: what change do you want to see? The purpose of your Students' Union is to represent you, both in an academic and personal capacity. What do you dislike about Surrey? What do you love? What hasn't worked for you? What do you wish there was more of? Your Surrey Students' Union exists solely to act upon the answers of these questions. The candidates elected in this year's Surrey Decides will represent you and your voice; the candidates you vote for will advocate for things that matter to you.
It's election season again; that two week rush on campus, dominated by colourful flyers and A4 manifestos, all clinging to the walls and windows of Surrey's buildings. But maybe, this year, instead of passing them by, you'll stop and take the time to read the various points put forward by each manifesto. Maybe this year's candidates are out on the street, waving their flyers around, and maybe this year you'll stop and listen to them. Sure, maybe you've got a deadline in two days and three lectures to catch up on, but maybe, this year, you'll recognise the influence you have as a potential voter in the Surrey Decides elections. Maybe this year you'll take a stand and act upon what matters to you, as a student. Maybe this year, you'll vote, and your vote will make all the difference for the future of Surrey's students.