By James Keller
Winning a Students’ Union election, regardless of the position you are vying for, is relatively easy–about as easy as you’d expect for a job that pays nearly $25,000, placing you near the top of a $10 million organization. Employing a few seemingly effortless techniques, you too can become an elected official on the SU executive.
1. No experience, no knowledge
Experience will be of no use to you in office, nor will a rudimentary grasp of the duties of the position you’re applying for. Words like "academic," "external" and "portfolio" are catch phrases and don’t mean much anyway, so pay them little mind. Diving in blind and headfirst is awful when you’re swimming, but brilliant when it comes to the SU.
Having no experience ensures you a fresh start, and will no doubt provide some exciting surprises and realizations along the way–whether those be your duties the systemic constraints under which you must work, or that the SU actually has a team of permanent paid staff. "Eureka!" you’ll exclaim, time and time again. This keeps it interesting.
No knowledge? No experience? No problem.
2. Those pesky issues
Understanding issues is a redundant task and should never concern a good student politician. The only thing worse than keeping up on the problems and opportunities that will occupy your time, is developing ideas on how to address them. So-called "issues," like new government legislation altering the role of students’ unions, the current status of our lobby groups, work of the current SU, the relationship between the SU and the media, and academic access are secondary at best. Do yourself a favour and avoid newspapers and television, as they sometimes delve into post-secondary education.
The Calgary Herald, from what I hear, even has an education reporter. Weird.
3. Forget the platform
Don’t have a platform or any concrete plans. Everyone has ideas these days, but you can be different. Set yourself apart and run on vague rhetoric and broad generalizations. Even better, let silence be your weapon.
Don’t submit a platform to the Students’ Union, to your fearless leader or use the space to trash a student organization. This technique should never be ruled out as an effective tool to reach students.
Puns and cliches are the cornerstone of any good campaign. For example, if I were running, I could say "let’s stop playing James with administration!" In this case, "James" was used instead of "games," which is very clever
Nothing wins an election like a good gimmick, and if I know anything about politics it’s that students love gimmicks, especially at their expense. But why stop at t-shirts or buses or donating your salary? Bring lions and tigers to campus, repel from the MacEwan Student Incompletoplex with a monkey on your back or sit suspended in a David Blaine-style glass box for two weeks above the Den patio.
If you still need ideas, watch Saved by the Bell. The resources are endless, and no idea is too crazy or too stupid. Best of all, gimmicks divert attention should you follow the third point above.
These are just a few of many techniques you should think about when running for the SU. Thankfully, we’re off to a roaring start, with many candidates adopting these ideals of neo-ridiculous student politics. The day after this guide is published, the election will be over and we will have winners. We can only hope and pray they are candidates like those described above.