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February 28, 2012

A Comical Tale

I’ve dusted off and updated a piece I wrote for the Warwick SU’s in-house magazine as it turns out I never put it up here – It was originally written for the 2006 heat of the Chortle Student Comedy Awards, and back then it was history. Now it’s ancient history.

So last night Warwick Uni once again played host to the midlands heat of the Chortle.co.uk Student Comic competition. At first glance this might seem like your average comedy competition but it is in fact an event intrinsically linked to Warwick Uni and their Students Union. To explain this, we have to go back in time nearly ten years.

The exec of the Comedy Society in 2003 was comprised of six entirely new people, the prior exec having all graduated in the same year. None of us had much of a clue what we were doing, but nevertheless we had grand ideas, the majority of which proved to be far too grand for our little society but nevertheless one idea stuck out. It developed from some discussion that had been going on with student comics at other universities, about the idea of having some sort of ‘act exchange’ program, where upcoming student comics could go and play at other university’s gigs. It was a nice idea but somewhere along the way it metamorphosed, and we thought: ‘why not make it a competition?’ And so the country’s first student comedy competition was conceived.

The Guardian had recently spoken to us about our society and the benefits it bought to student performers and we took the opportunity to mention the idea of the competition. We were rather bemused upon reading the resultant article that they’d also spoken to Paramount Comedy, who were rather disparaging towards the whole idea and were “not convinced it would go ahead”. “They said it couldn’t be done” is phrase that often gets used to add gravitas to a given success. Very rarely does anyone ever tell you who ‘they’ are. For us it was Dave Hancox of Paramount Comedy; now we had no choice but to prove him wrong!

There were still, inevitably, a fair few problems to solve. First was the issue of money – turns out that the previous exec hadn’t actually filled in a budget request form, and so the money available to us in our account was this: none existent. Un-deterred we quickly spotted that Barclays were running a capital investment competition, encouraging societies to submit ideas for worthy events that they would provide some funding for. A proposal was quickly written up and submitted, and we soon heard we’d been picked as a finalist. We put aside the irony of entering a competition to run a competition, and worked on a presentation we were to deliver in front of our competitors and a number of Barclays executives the following week. Despite strong competition from the likes of RAG and StreetVibe, as we emerged from the presentation evening we did so £300 better off. Was it the brilliance of our concept, the strength of our proposal, or the charisma of our presenters that won us that prize? It could have been any of them, but I like to put it down to a certain exec member (that shall remain Stacy) doing the presentation dressed up as a fairy. Never let it be said Barclays have no sense of humour.

So we had a concept and funding, all we really needed now were some competitors. We placed a notice on the forums of comedy website Chortle.co.uk, which are frequented by comedians of all statures, from the local guy who just started last week to Dave Gorman. Oddly, the most interesting response was not from any of the entrants, but from Chortle editor Steve Bennett, who was interested in getting involved in running the competition: “[It] struck me as a good
idea because there was nothing like it that existed, even though lots of
students perform comedy. So this was a good case of highlighting that
talent.” Steve kindly agreed to not only publicise the competition on the front page of his website, but also provided us with an MC for the evening and a panel of judges. After shifting through all the entries, we chose thirteen finalists who performed to a packed student crowd in the Cooler. After a closely fought competition (and some chilled out Jazz from The Pretty Small Band in the intervals), Warwick’s own Lloyd Langford emerged victorious. One could argue that the home-advantage helped him with the audience vote, but convincing our three-strong panel of comedy industry judges (Steve Bennet, Alexis Dubus and Rich Batsford) was undoubtedly down purely to his talent.

The event was a resounding success, and so it was no surprise that the next year it was agreed cast the net far wider, with a number regional heats culminating in a final in London. This year there are seven regional heats and it is now a major national comedy event. It continues to grow under the aegis of Chortle’s Steve Bennett Corey Shaw.

Last night saw a fantastic show, just one of thirteen heats nationwide in a competition that now includes two semi-finals and a £2,500 grand prize.. The whereabouts of Dave Hancox are unknown.


February 09, 2008

How to win the Warwick Saab elections

In an attempt to seem vaguely relevent and justify this still being a Warwick Blog despite me graduating two years ago, I figured I’d talk about the Union Saabatical Officer elections. Ian has a nice summary here and here but I want to offer something else: a guide on winning.

I’d intended to write this before the candidate nomination stuff started in an attempt to get a group of people to follow it and proove it works, but not being a student anymore I forgot when they started entirely. So now it’s more of a post-morten “here’s what you should have done” sort of thing.

Two caveats: firstly this isn’t foolproof, you still need to be somewhat appealing to the voters, and not a big idiot. Unless you’re running for the sports officer post, in which case I’m told that’s a plus (that and flashing your tits to society execs in exchange for endorsements apparently, he says making an entirely out of date reference).
Secondly I don’t think this breaks any electoral rules but there’s a chance it does as I really can’t be arsed to read them all. However it’s presented as working within the framework of the current system, if it’s not permitted to do it that way it can also be done fairly easily and to only a slightly reduced effect outside of it. I’ll explain that later.

So what is the key? The party system.

Believe it or not, the candidates you vote for in the elections are all members of certain parties. You may have spotted this with the Lib Dem or Tory candidates (but no-one is going to vote for nationally-affiliated groups, see “don’t be a big idiot” above) but all the other candidates belong to a party to. Except generally these are parties of one, named after thier campaign slogans, so to all intents and purposes, it’s an individual race.

Now, back to last year. Remember when the two brothers? Wasn’t that cool? And they had an advantage. Few people would vote for one and not the other as they were seen as an homogenous entity with shared values and policies and err…genes. The fact is that most students don’t care for lelecting by reading manifestos and voting on the basis of total policy, they’ll just vote for whoever impresses them when speaking to them at the start of lectures or doing kitchen tours or even has a really good poster. And the vast majority will also not see more than 3 or 4 of these covering only 2 or 3 different posts. But once you’re in the voting system to vote for the one or two people you like, you may as well throw some votes out at the rest while you’re there, at least that’s what the Union keep telling you “Vote! Doesn’t matter who for just Vote!” and only arseholes like me vote for RON.

So what is my point? Well last year the brothers had an advantage, because if one of them impressed someone with a talk or whatever, if that person wasn’t particulary woo-ed by any candidate for the other position, they’d vote for the other brother by default.

The way to win this election therefore, would be to do this, but writ large. Find 3-4 other people that you get along with and that want the job, and forge alliances. People already do this. During those brief stumps before lectures you’ll remember many of the candidates at the end will say “and for person X for position Y to, they’re really good” but you never remember the name so it’s pointless. So what we do is formalise this. Cover four or five positions and run as a party. Have one slogan for everyone, and a couple of major policies that you can all get behind (a real freshers week and cheaper drinks are often good policies that no-one expects you to keep). That single slogan is your party, those policies are what your publicity, talks etc focus on. And crucially you focus on promoting the party, the slogan, the policies, rather than yourself. Make sure all your posters are thematically simmilar, they can have individual faces on, even have a few specific policies related to that position (and obviously, you’ll need some decent ones for the manifesto, to attract those that actually care enough to read them and vote on that basis) but keep the border the same, the font the same, the colour scheme the same and have that single slogan displayed prominently.

What you’ve just done is quintupled the amount of campaigning each member of the 5-person party gets. You’ll be the most noticable, you can cover everything and be everywhere, because you’re each supporting each other. And with such a magnitude of advantage in publicity, you can’t possibly lose (though if one of your members is outted as a kiddie-fiddler, you might have problems. If on the other hand they shag the leader of the cheerleading squad, you all benefit. Especially if they’re female).

As I said, there’s something of a caveat in that I don’t know if there’s a restriction on this. I don’t know if running as a party introduces limitations or reduces the amout of publicity you’re allowed or anything like that. If it does, the solution is pretty easy – run individually but homogenise your slogan/party name with a good word. For example “Freedom for societies”, “Freedom for sports”, “Freedom for commercial development”... well you get the idea. And keep the posters consistent in style and so on, and run a virtual party that isn’t really one so isn’t subject to those rules.

So there you go. That’s how to win a Warwick Saab election. Easy. All the candidates would be kicking themselves now, if they weren’t already drunk.

And best of luck to the RAW team covering the election results tonight, you guys have quite a legacy to live up to but I’m sure you’ll manage it.

Also are we letting The Boar cover elections yet?


February 01, 2008

On the Chortle Awards

So you can now vote for the Chortle Awards here and until the 6th of February from a shortlist of 4 acts in 8 different catagories. You can also vote for best venue here

The shortlists have been drawn up by some massive names in comedy criticism and promotion: Steve Bennet, Bruce Dessau, Ed Morrish, etc.

So I wonder why the eventual decision is left up to us, the public. See, Chortle is a great website, it’s the only website out there that deals with UK stand-up from “in the trenches”. Sure, they review the big theatre shows too and keep up with the latest Russell Brand gossip, but more importantly they cover the little guy, they have listings for clubs of all sizes and reviews of club acts that everywhere else ignores for 11 months of the year, before pausing briefly to review them if they do an Edinburgh show. And the Chortle awards reflect this, with some big names in some catagories, some names that are probably known to most Chortle readers, and then others that are even more obscure. This is to be commended, but raises problems in a public poll.

See, as I’m going through attempting to vote, I’m feeling like a fraud, like I shouldn’t be voting as of the 40 acts, I’ve not seen 11 of them, some of those I haven’t heard of and if we factor in the awards for specific shows I haven’t seen (though I’ve seen the acts to other work) or comics I haven’t seen perform in a few years, that number reaches 17, nearly half of the nominations. And I spend summer 2006 writing for the site!
Now I’m not suggesting that the sort of people that visit Chortle are the sort that want to vote “Peter Kay” in every catagory, but I consider myself fairly well versed in the world of stand-up, maybe not quite as much as a few years ago when I was promoting a gig myself but I still feel like I know more than most. As such I imagine there will be very few people able to pass judgement in a fair and balenced way on the acts, and hence it becomes a popularity contest. Who can get the most friends and friends of friends and members of a Facebook group to vote for them.
Which is a real shame when you get together so much critical talent to draw up the shortlist.

That said, there’s nothing I can do about it and people are going to vote regardless, so here’s my utterly ill-informed look and suggestions for each catagory:

Best newcomer: Nat Luurtsema, Greg McHugh, Holly Walsh, Jack Whitehall.
This is the worst one for me, I have seen none of them and voting for Holly Walsh purely because it’s the only name I’ve even heard of seems unfair. Tom will probably tell me that I’ve actually seen some, or even all, of them at The Reckless Moment at some point but when you have a weekly gig with about 4 new acts per week on you tend not to remember all 20 names and acts you see in a month! Fortunately the one good thing about the Chortle poll is you can vote ‘none’, so you’re not compelled to pick a winner in every catagory if you just want to vote in one.

Breakthrough act: Tom Basden, Lloyd Langford, Jon Richardson, Terry Saunders.
Probably one of the best shortlists of the awards – I think I may have seen Tom Basden but I don’t really remember, Jon Richardson is awesome, his Edinburgh show was great, focusing on his weird OCD outlook on life, while Terry Saunders’ Edinburgh show wasn’t hilariously funny but was one of those brilliant little storytelling shows that makes you smile. Steve Bennett reviewed it for Chortle with the line “the guy with the Ben Folds t-shirt on was definately at the right gig”. I was the guy in the Ben Folds t-shirt.
But anyone that knows me will know I can only possibly vote for one person here. Lloyd Langford MC’d almost every gig I ran back at Warwick, he still does it now. He’s probably the one person in the world that’s been involved with comedy at Warwick Students Union for longer than I was. He performed at my 21st birthday party. He’s a top bloke, and most of all, he’s very very funny. One thing I remember was meeting with the comics before the show one night, and one saying “Lloyd compere’s this gig doesn’t he? Be a nice change to have a student compere who isn’t shit”. So there we go, I suggest you vote for Lloyd Langford (and if you want to check, I believe he’s still supporting Rhod Gilbert on his theatre tour

Best compere: Stephen K Amos, Jarred Christmas, Greg Davies, Stephen Grant
Another weird one, with the exceptions of Stephen Grant I’ve seen all of the acts here but not seen any of them compering, and only seen Davies recently as part of We Are Klang. So in my informed decision, based on what I think they’d be like if they were compering, I’m voting for Jarrd Christmas, mostly as I really liked his Edinburgh show a few years back. That said, it wasn’t as good as We Are Klang but Greg Davies is only 33% of We Are Klang and Jared was probably about 65% as good as We Are Klang so I’m voting for him. See the logic!

Best headliner: Rhod Gilbert, Jim Jeffries, Michael McIntrye, Glenn Wool
Glenn Wool I like but haven’t seen since Glastonbury a few years back so don’t feel like I can judge. Michael McIntyre I’ve only seen on TV and while he seems like a consumate Jongleurs headliner he’s a little too smug for my tastes. So that leaves Rhod Gilbert and Jim Jeffries. Wish I could vote for both, they’re both brilliant albeit very different. Jeffries is rude and shocking, Gilbert is whimsical and soft-spoken. In the end I’m going for Jim Jeffries mostly as I had the pleasure of seeing him headline a tiny little gig in Leamington and be the only comic in the history of said club to ever get an encore, which really is the definition of ‘great headliner’.

The remaining catagories I’m leaving for tommorow (or the day after), in an attempt to spread out my blogging a bit more, and not just write novella length posts every few weeks!


March 08, 2007

Reflections on Comedy Soc

Warning: Self-centered pretentious blog entry below.

I’ve just spent the past 4 days in Leam at the house of my friends Tom and Pete (both Phd students) and it’s been aces. At first I thought I was missing being a student, with all the cool stuff going on: I watched the Chortle Comedy Competition on Sunday, went to The Reckless Moment comedy gig on Monday, and went to one of the Performance Comedy society nights in Kelseys on Wednesday. I miss being a student and being able to go to all this cool stuff, while not being five years older than the youngest people there.

But then I realised that most of these cool things didn’t exist while I was a student, and so I started feeling somewhat bitter. In some ways I wish I was a fresher this year, with all these cool comedy things to go to and meet like-minded people at rather than going on the same old kitchen nights out to Varsity or whatever. I love all those people I hung out with back in my first year, but damn I really wish I had the sort of options this new generation of students at Warwick does.

But then there’s another side to this: what if I had been born four years later? Without wishing to appear big-headed, if I hadn’t been at Warwick when I was, how much of this would actually be there for me? For a start, the fact that the Comedy Society is now running regular socials to these events is something I fought hard to build up over a couple of years, moving it from a society that promotes and offers members discounts on gigs, to an actual genuine society where people actually socialise. Without that system in place, would I ever of met other comedy fans to go to such events with – after all it took three goes for me to talk one of my kitchen mates into coming with me to the comedy gig in The Cooler in my first year!

And then there’s The Reckless Moment itself: born from the sheer tenacity and bloody-mindedness of Messers Hughes and Falconer, resolute in the belief that such a weekly comedy night was possible in a town such as Leamington Spa, but at the same time it was an event that benefited greatly from working with the Comedy Society to bring socials there, especially in the first few weeks. Would it still exist if that was taken out of the equation? Probably, yes, but quite possibly in a different shape or form. Likewise the new Performance Comedy soc nights – they could certainly get thier own audience in without any support from Comedy Soc, but there’s something to be said for the widening of thier audience beyond the typical friends/coursemates/housemates of performers and society members that often characterise performance-society nights.

I’m not trying to claim that I’ve single-handly revolutionised how comedy works at Warwick, and were I not there when I was it’s quite possible someone else with a simmilar drive to change things up a little would have done just as good, or even better, a job. But looking at things now I know that were I just entering university as a fresher this year, I would be having more fun than I did. But that’s in part down to me. And that makes me happy: I’ve made things more fun for people like me – and while I don’t reap the benefits, hopefully many future generations of students will. In my little part of the university, in my small corner, I left things in a better state than I found them, and that’s an accomplishment.

I guess I’m reflecting on this now as I’m now seeing myself move two generations away from the Comedy Society itself: the people that I knew and trained up as a new exec are now in turn finding new people I’ve either never met or know only in passing to train up to take over from them, my last direct connection to something I put so much effort into is fading away, and it’s sort of sad. But at the same time, it’s wonderful, as things move on and the society continues to improve – I didn’t create something that existed only as long as I was there to will it into being, I made something that lives on in the hands of others, and which will hopefully get even better and make things even more cool for the people like me that turn up at Uni for the first time next september.


February 28, 2007

Chortle Student Comedy Competition

Writing about web page http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/portal/ents/event/3066/

Got to love Warwick Students Union. On sunday they play host to one of the heats in the annual Chortle Student Comedy Competition. The first paragraph of the blurb on the event page:

“Some people are unfunny, it’s a sad fact! No matter how hard they try to crack the funnies they’ll just end up having to deal with a pretty embarrassing silence.”

Wow! Sign me up for a ticket right now!


June 05, 2006

The AUT strike and the EGM

(Please see my earlier entry for background info on the strike itself. Furthur to that entry, an "Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) has been called":http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/portal/Default.asp?url=ARTICLE&article_id=747 at Warwick Students union)

At the end of my last entry on this subject I noted that an EGM had been called by the Student's Union. I assumed this was down to someone with more drive and less apathy than myself deciding to do something about the bizzare situation we are faced with, with the Union actively backing the AUT despite thier measures damaging students. I encouraged people to go along on the assumption a new policy had been submitted to fix this.

However, when the details of the new policy were made available my heart sank. It seems that some of the Union officers have now reached a monumental level of fuckwittery.

The alarm bells first went off when I saw the proposer and seconder we both saabs, both previously in favour of the strike action despite it's effect on students. Basically, the new policy does fuck–all, and is frankly a mess. I'm going to be referencing both the new policy and the existing one which it superceeds during this entry, so provide links here for your reference.

First thing you should know is that the original policy as submitted to steering had one redeeming feature:
"This Union resolves to continue to support the AUT, excluding their exam boycott."
Even though the policy didn't make clear exactly how we would practically differentiate between supporting the AUT in principle, and supporting the exam boycott, it suggested that at the very least some ethical stance was being taken to support the effected students, even if it was practically no help.
However by the time the policy reached the other side of steering, the term "excluding their exam boycott" was removed. Good going steering! You've truely managed to polish a turd. With a shit–stained brush.

So what else does the policy say that's different from the existing one:
"This Union Believes that taking action short of a strike was the last resort for the AUT."
It's not so much the content that annoys me here but rather the fact it is complete and utter bollocks. The last resort for the AUT is clearly an actual bloody strike – action short of something can never be an actual last resort as the action itself is clearly furthur down the line. It's simply a totally illogical statement.
That sort of statement peppers the policy: sentences that sound impressive but actually have zero meaning.

I love this bit:
"This Union resolves if the dispute is not resolved by Monday of Week 9 to hold a “SORT IT OUT” demonstration, not supporting any party, expressing student disgust at the situation!"
Wahey! An impartial protest expressing our disgust at both sides of the debate and encouraging them to both sort this out and to stop using us as thier guinea pigs.

Problem is this comes after such statements as:

"This union resolves to continue to support students by providing the facility for students to complain to the University, to UCEA, and to the government on the Union Website" (they include the governement, who can fuck all about this, but not, you'll note, the AUT – the people actually responsible for the boycott)

"This Union believes that the Universities have to power to end this dispute now and that by using stalling as a negotiation tactic they have harmed students." (no mention, of course, that the AUT are also using stalling tactics by refusing to put the latest offer to a membership vote, nor even the suggestion that the AUT also has the power to end the dispute now)

"This Union believes that that putting pressure on the Universities, in a coalition with the AUT, is the fastest way to end the dispute." (Which is not justified anywhere in the document.)

And most importantly of all "This union resolves to continue to support the AUT."

Now how exactly are you to hold an unbiased demonstration when the instigatiors, organisers, and attendees are all members of a body that openly supports the AUT in its action? You can't. Even if the demonstraion seems to not be supporting either party, both parties will be acutely aware that the Union support the AUT and are heavily biased against the universities. Of course given current student sentiment towards the AUT, which is mainly rightful anger that they are not marking our exams, any "Supporting the AUT" demonstration would likely have a much smaller turnout. This way they can spin it as being entirely for our benefit and un–biased, attracting more students who will unwittingly be supporting the AUT. If you attend the demonstration I suggest you take a leaf out the Union Officer's books and make a big placard with "AUT: JUST FUCK OFF AND DIE" in big captial letters on, then write in biro underneath "And the university too".

It's a nothing policy that if anything, underscores and strengthens our support of the AUT. There's no actions that will be taken as a result of this policy that wouldn't be possible under the previous one.
But of course, this sort of policy is typical of what we expect from the Union high–ups now. Surely, this is just the typical level of fuckwittery you'd expect from them? It's nothing special.
But here's the rub. It's exam time. Students are very busy. Exams are the most important thing on a lot of thier minds at the moment. Now if a policy to reverse our stance on the strike were to be on the table, it would matter. It would be of some import. If would have far reaching consequences. It would justify calling an EGM and distracting studnets from thier revision. But this policy doesn't do that. It's a big piece of nothing. It's unessecary. It is certaintly not a justifiable reason to be distracting students at this important time of year.

And that, my friends, is why this represents such a monumental level of fuckwittery. Warwick University Student's Union is asking students to sacrifice thier revision time to come and vote on a policy that does nothing. And that is really something quite special.

One final observation – what if this policy is rejected at the vote? It thereby represents a dismissal by the student majority of the idea of supporting the AUT in this strike action. But the original policy on supporting the strike will still stand. But how can that possibly be tenable when it is utterly at odds with the general sentiment of the student body. The only sensible course of action would be to immediatly schedule another EGM or Council meeting to lapse the original policy, given the lack of support by students. Will this happen? Will it fuck.


May 26, 2006

Weighing in on the AUT strike

(Brief background for non-Warwickers. The AUT are striking over pay deal dispute. I say 'strike', I mean 'action short of a strike', ie. refusing to set and mark exams. Our student's union is supporting them in this, against what would appear to be majority opinion)

I've commented on lots of other people's blogs about the AUT strike so figured I may as well put down my thoughts here in a separate entry. What I'm not going to be addressing here is the actual issue of who is in the right. Do the lecturers deserve such a rise? Are the university being reasonable or just tight bastards? It's a debate that could go on forever and has elsewhere. I'm not even going to comment on it – my problem lies not in the AUTs demands, but in their methods.

Y'see folks, the actions the AUT are taking is screwing students. This is a fact, there's no debate here: by refusing to set or mark exams the AUT are putting student's futures in jeopardy. You might think this is reasonable, you might think this is totally out of order (especially if you're a finalist with a classification condition job offer…) but you have to accept that this statement is true. The action hurts students. That's the whole point.

But the AUT have no battle with us. We're being used as a pawn. The AUT a picking us up like some big stick and hitting the university around the head with it, not caring if bits of the stick fall off or parts of it start to break. We're being used folks. There's no two ways about this either: the AUT are hurting us in the hope that we'll get riled enough to lash out at the university. It's an understandable tactic. A vaild one even. Sure, it sucks to be a student in this circumstance, but I can see the logic behind it. It's inherently flawed, but I'll come to that later. Let's assume for a minute in a little thought experiment that it's actually a good, workable tactic.

Fair play to you AUT–folks, I hate you for this but if it's the best method you can come up with to hurt the university and get what you want then, well played. This is a selfish world we live in and you have to do what you can to look after number one. It sucks but hey, life isn’t fair. What’s that Mr. AUT? How about we come and help you out and side with you against the University? Haha, that’s a funny one… What? You're serious? Are you out of your tiny fucking minds?

You see, this is what I have a problem with, that the AUT will take actions that hurt us, then act all shocked and offended when it turns out the response of the majority of students is “Fuck you then”. Here's an idea AUT – if you want our help writing and complaining to the university about your pay, why not try asking nicely first? The AUT are the equivalent of the bully that kicks the shit out you in the school playground, then when the teacher finds out points at another kid and shouts “It's not my fault Miss, he made me do it”. The sheer audacity of the AUT to expect that we’ll support their cause after they screw us is astounding, it shocks me to the core that supposedly the brightest minds in the country could be so fucking naïve. It's pretty simple guys: you don’t sleep with Bruce Banner’s girlfriend, and when he goes all Hulk on you say “hey, now I’ve got you angry, go beat up this guy for me”. You'd get splotted. Likewise the AUT can't endanger student’s futures then turn and around and go “Great, you're annoyed – now take it out on the University” without expecting at least some, if not most of, our ire to land back on them.

And that's what I hate about this strike. Not that they're doing it – that's just sadly the nature of the world these days – but that they think they're still entitled to our support, and that our Union are so out of touch that they're giving it to them.

Fortunatly in the latter case you can change this – there's an EGM on Monday June 5th in the Ramphal building at 7pm. You can vote to make the union's policy make more sense for you. Remember this isn't about whether lecturers deserve a raise or not. This is about drawing a line in the sand and telling the AUT "If you want our continued support, this is the line you will not cross". It's about not happilly rolling over and letting us be used by someone for thier own gain at our expense. It's about telling the AUT and the University to act like grown–ups and sort this out themselves, without getting us caught in the crossfire. And it's about standing up for student rights when the other two parties couldn't give a damn.


February 14, 2006

Warwick Uni Saab Elections

So I spent sunday afternoon writing this piece on the saab elections for the comedy soc newsletter, only to finish it 2 minutes too late and miss the bus on to campus.
Then I failed to run fast enough to catch it at the top of town, so ended up standing around for an hour waiting for the next one.
Once I finally got to campus, there was a total lack of paper in Union North, so I ended up only being able to print out 6 copies with the few sheets of paper I had in my bag (which our society will now be charged for, bastards).
This was dissapointing, as I quite liked the article, it's reproduced here for those interested, though it's not exactly current anymore:

If you were on campus at all the past week you can’t fail to have noticed that it was that time of year again—or if you were a first year, can’t fail to have wondered what the fuck was going on. Yes, it’s the Warwick Students Union Annual Popularity Contest! Candidates carefully produce their policies, making sure they’re as nebulous and as much like the others as possible, before sticking up hundreds of posters coating every notice board in campus, pissing off anyone else that wants to use them for more constructive things, and eventually pissing off everyone else as they become sick of their fucking faces.
After all this effort you, the student body, voted mainly on three attributes:
1) Largest friends network: how many people did the candidate know that would vote for him and then tell their friends to vote for him too, as they don’t really give a shit anyways.
2) Largest poster campaign: people feel more confident voting for someone whose name they recognise. It allows them to kid themselves into believing they considered the issues at hand and voted with their head.
3) Largest… well lets just say dressing in a tight-fitting superman top might help garner some votes from the shallower, male, rugby playing demographic.

Looking through the candidates manifestos before voting (because I’m an exception to the rules I’ve laid out above, naturally) there were some rather interesting claims. A certain presidential candidate’s short manifesto was followed by the immortal phrase ".. I'll update and expand it later :)". Considering I voted about an hour before the polls closed, I’m guessing they didn’t.
The ‘Vote For Chips’ campaign was clever, but I’m still trying to get my head around the name ‘Faraz Shibli’ can be punned into the word ‘Chips’. Nor do there appear to be any fried potato related policies in her manifesto. Perhaps iBen’s campaign would have gone better if he to dropped the pretence of keeping his name in it and just went for: “Vote iPod, they’re great”. Or perhaps Damian King could have run on a “Vote For Sex, it’s ace (Damien King) ticket. Chips did however have the most sensible policy of the whole campaign: stopping the printers in the computer rooms printing out a pointless cover sheet for every single print-off, even if you have no credits. It’s environmentally sound, but also hypocritical, as current estimates say that the production of the posters and flyers for the elections campaign has infact consumed 60% of the worlds natural rainforests.
Super Sal’s manifesto had me convinced up until the point where she used the word ‘shizzle’, then went on to claim “Wo0o, tall order guys, but I will bust my ballll predominant ly have tangibl e outcomes. “ I don’t know about you but if I wanted to be President of the Students Union, I’d probably proof read my manifesto first.
Nic Warrington won the position of CDCO, responsible for events held in the union, worryingly, she’s also a member of RAG, so will presumably be bringing a RAG theme to all events next year—by this I don’t mean more money will be given to charity, rather that drunkenness and making out with random strangers will at first be encouraged, before being made compulsory in certain areas of the union, in preparation for a union wide mandatory debauchery policy at all union events. Any attendee’s that fail to either: sleep with one or more random members of the opposite or same sex, throw up at least 3 times, or streak naked on the marketplace stage, will be banned.
Al Green had a number of sensible policies, including limiting societies to a maximum of two posters per event on each notice board. I read this policy on all nine of the posters outside L3. Such commonsense is rare in a union elections candidate, so imagine my disappointment when getting ready to vote to discover he is, in fact, a Christian (and thank the gods I can still say that without being arrested, MPs have some sense after all).
The winner of the Presidential election was, of course, Brian Duggan. He did a Kat Stark (insert your own joke here, perhaps incorporating the phrase ‘trying out different positions’) by becoming union president after holding a previous sabbatical position last year.
Katie Chevis is the new Welfare officer, and wants to install condom dispensers around campus where you can use your NUS card for free access. Again, you can write your own jokes for that one, I just thought it was funny.
Another CCDO candidate claimed: “ I will aim to introduce later door times, to ensure more people are in the Union earlier” – and I’ll aim to publish more copies of this newsletter, so less people will read it.
Ali Daya was the only person standing for his part-time post, and received the dubious honour of having the closest run race with RON (ie. ‘find someone else, they’re all shit) – I’d like to think this was because he failed to correctly differentiate between ‘accept’ and ‘except’ in his manifesto. Further more he’s a second year Maths student—and he can’t even differentiate!
Interestingly before voting I was asked if I defined myself as female or LGBT, as that would determine whether or not I could vote for certain positions like ‘Woman’s Campaign Officer’. Oddly enough, I was not asked if I was a racist before being allowed to vote for the Anti-Racism Campaigns Officer. Clearly double standards there.
As I reached the 23rd vote I was swiftly losing the will to live, and clicking wildly in the hope that it would soon be over, but there was one final amusing thing, as Doug Kelly cropped up again, a current sabbatical officer running for a part time post next year. He claimed on RaW that he was doing so as ‘he wanted to be involved in some way next year’, but the true is he did so to fulfil the government regulation that every students union election have at least one candidate stand purely on the strength of their stupid hair. I’d say bring back John Lumley and the Equal Opps punk rock band, but there’s probably no-one left here that remembers them.
Finally a shout out to Ayesha Parikh, who’s slogan was “Making it about You” and not “Making it about U” – thanks for the resisting the temptation and saving my sanity, and to Stephen Lovelady, who didn’t base his campaign on his name at all! Maybe there’s still hope.


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