Everyone’s seen the emails – ‘Could you be the next SU President?’ Sabbatical elections are around the corner, and this year’s set to be a big one. Elena Cresci took a look at why the 2011 Swansea Sabbatical Elections are worth a watch, and how we here at The Siren want to make the most of it…

It’s that time of year again. In about three weeks, campus will be a sea of homemade banners, manifesto leaflets and campaigners clad in various coloured t-shirts. As students walk the length of the mall, they’ll be inundated with ‘have you voted yet?’ and ‘vote so’n’so for such and such position!’ I had my first taste of Sabbatical elections as a Fresher, back when I resided in Preseli and was asked to put someone’s poster in my window. My main memory is that I was utterly clueless as to what it was actually about. I don’t even remember what position this person was running for, nor do I have any clue of what their manifesto was, and I think it’s safe to say the entire thing went right over my head. It would be a shame if that were the case with most Freshers this time around because this year is a biggie.

On Thursday the 24th of February 2011, nominations closed and the contenders for the Sabbatical positions were announced. You can see the list of candidates here. With 23 candidates in total, this year’s list matches the all-time highest number of candidates. As if that wasn’t enough to make this a race to watch, every single position this year is up for grabs without an incumbent challenger. Traditionally, officers applying for re-nomination tend to return to their position without much challenge, as was the case last year, with four out of five positions occupied by returning officers, so this year presents the opportunity for a completely new union with new faces and new policies dominating campaign week.

New seems to be the buzzword for this election. For the first time, after much campaigning from current SU president Luke Young, voting for Sabbatical positions will be conducted online between the 22nd and 24th of March, representing a move into modernity for student politics at Swansea, and about time too. E-Voting was trialled back in October when selecting NUS delegates to great success. Why was this? E-Voting makes voting less hassle for students and far more accessible; after all, we all have lectures and with deadlines looming, clicking some buttons during a work break in the library is far easier than packing up and heading to Fulton House to fill in a ballot slip.

There are other firsts cropping up in this election. We could see female officers in the roles of Welfare or Education for the first time since the position of Welfare and Education was split back in 2005. Additionally, for the first time in four years, a woman will be contesting for the role of President of the SU.

With all this in consideration, it’s clear that this election is going to be one to watch and one that students of Swansea should know about. For this reason, we here at The Siren want to make sure that we’re keeping you up to date with the campaign. Our main aim for the Sabbatical Elections 2011 will be to be an information hub for those of you who feel completely at a loss with what is going on during campaign week. Don’t know what the roles entail? In the following weeks we’ll have posts explaining all that you need to know about the union and the elections so that you’re fully informed about your vote. After all, this is our union, and this is our chance to have a say in how and who runs it. Let’s not waste this opportunity!

Got something to say about the Sabbatical elections? Any burning questions about the union you’d like The Siren to answer? Comment, email, Twitter, Facebook, we’re available on all these avenues, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!