How to win a student election

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Editor note: Rose has been elected as NUS Representative in the 2020 student election.

Disclaimer: Doesn’t work every time

Do you consider yourself a change-maker? An #influencer? Or someone pretty good at communicating with others? If yes – or if you want to manifest those vibes –you should consider taking up a leadership position in governance, student representation or publications (I’m taking EDITOR of this magazine you’re reading right now). A student rep position involves a lot of dedication, but it gives you access to a network of like-minded students and also to budgets that can make your on-campus event dreams come true. As someone who’s just experienced an election, here’s a guide on how to score the seat you want:

  • Stay aware of elections

The best way to know what’s happening is to read all your emails and follow the Western Sydney Student Representative Council’s Facebook page. It’s important to tune into elections even if you aren’t running because you can still read other people’s statements, watch their campaigns and vote. It’s also common for people to reach out and let candidates know when they have an awesome campaign  –  even if they didn’t win  –  so this is a great way to make friends too.

  • Check you are eligible

Don’t wait until it’s too late  –  make sure you belong to the constituency you want to represent. For example, a position may be limited to students from a certain campus (e.g. Parramatta SRC rep), students who are members of a collective (e.g. Ethnocultural Collective members can elect the Ethnocultural rep), students who use a unique study mode (e.g. Online Student rep) or students with specific degree status (e.g. Postgraduate rep to Academic Senate). Ensure you meet the criteria before the deadlines, or you could miss out. Students can run for up to 6 positions in SRC elections so choose wisely. Editors cannot be on the SRC.

  • Write your candidate statement

Your statement appears in the voting ballot so make sure it’s convincing enough to persuade strangers to vote for you. In early 2020, statements had a 150-word limit and you were able to use a different statement for each position you ran for. My top tips are: stay within the word limit (so you’re not stopped mid-sentence), remove any typos and try to clearly differentiate yourself from other candidates. Your statements cannot be changed once they are sent so get a friend to check yours before you email it to the Returning Officer. They also ask for a photo too so send a picture you wouldn’t mind the whole university seeing. Statements and photos are optional, but they really help convince voters to pick you.

  • Plan your campaign

This takes the most amount of time but can be a fun process if you have a unique idea and vision for your campaign. In the age of COVID-19, social media is a really important tool to get students voting. Although your campaign should be engaging as possible, please get familiar with the campaign rules. Student governance campaigns are bound by Student Election Campaign and Code of Conduct clauses 1-6 (released in 2013) and SRC campaigns are bound by the Student Representation and Participation Proceduresclauses 133-144 (released in 2019).

They are different rules so make sure you read the correct rules and  –  if you’re unsure  –  send emails to check if your plans are permitted or if they will get your disqualified.

  • Run your campaign

Ideally you would have planned a creative campaign including photos, videos and cover photo banners. Using hashtags is also common and linking posts to your candidate statement is a great idea. Be aware that elections can run for one or two weeks so schedule your plans according to how long your election is. Big no-goes include emailing students without their permission or insulting other candidates so focus on your platform and convincing your own existing network.

A new Facebook page is a great place to house your material and you can run one for yourself or for a group campaign. Don’t be shy to invite your WSU friends to like your page but make sure that only WSU students help promote you or you could be breaching the rules.

  • Don’t be afraid to try again

Not every student will get the position they want but that’s okay. Take the lessons you learned to improve your next campaign or use those skills to score your next job and move on. SRC elections happen annually, as do Editor elections, and most governance positions last two years so if you’re doing a longer degree you can try again.

 

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