It is the hack version of Christmas Eve, the night where we all gather around the warm fire (or in my case at least, a tumble dryer that single-handedly warms my flat up), get dizzy with excitement at the possible new policies, the controversy, and OH MY GOD THE CURLY FRIES. That night was last Wednesday, and on Thursday came the disappointing reality of manifesto day: a sad, uninspiring list of reworked policy from years past revisiting like ghosts to Scrooge. Or, even worse, outlandish, totally unworkable nonsense, a bit like receiving a ticket to the World Cup final on Christmas Day, only to discover that you first have to prove Sepp Blatter is innocent of corruption.
For example, presidential candidate Alec Edgecliffe-Johnson promises a single app that includes all the inner workings of MyED, EUSA and University events and workshops, academic schedules and sports timetabling. Now I’m no app developer – it took me two months to work out how to snooze my phone’s alarm – but that is a monster development job on any scale, nevermind a University that includes 35,000 students, 64 sports clubs and over 260 societies, as well as the University itself. Not a chance.
There were of course the usual additions of curly fries in Teviot (although I’d like Pleasance to stop running out of them before the Library Bar starts running out of them too), 24 hour libraries during exam time, a midweek Big Cheese, overhauling the booking system in EUSA buildings (it is alright, EUSA will cancel your bookings if you do not make them a profit on the bar, which is apparently totally fine), and widening bursaries despite the University being the most generous in Scotland and already having a constant emphasis on expanding them further.
The belief from candidates that money somehow grows on magical University and EUSA trees is not only frustrating; it is naive. More money for counselling, more money for wages, more money for postgraduate tutors, and more money for anything your heart desires (including taking away accessible study rooms and replacing them with relaxation spaces in the library – really?). EUSA have only just managed to remove themselves from a previously deepening pit of debt, while the University has had to deal with a Scotland-wide cut in teaching funding from £1.062 billion to £1.027 billion, as well as considerable investment into University facilities.
Money is not as easily accessible as candidates make it seem to be, leading only to broken promises and disenfranchisement down the line. It is noble to advocate and to lobby for these issues, but promises to actually implement them within a year are simply dishonest.
That is not to say that there is never anything of credit in the manifestos; presidential candidate Theo Robertson-Bonds’ idea to implement a ‘safe-zone’ in Teviot or Potterrow for people on nights out is absolutely superb. VPS candidate Jenna Kelly’s championing of a £5 print allowance per semester is similarly achievable and creditable policies such as a start-up fund for new societies (VPSA candidate Maddie Payne), and finally pledging better support for students on their year abroad (VPAA candidate Patrick Garratt) are considered and achievable.
EUSA elections are hard. Really hard. The campaigns are long and candidates still have work to do and themselves to look after, so I beg any reader to not be aggressive with criticism against any candidate, to not target anyone personally, and to give these people some slack. They are all awesome and deserve credit for standing in an election that has a huge level of scrutiny. Kudos to them all; I know I could not do it.