When will student election candidates tidy up their act?
You're not imagining it - the advertising for student elections really is getting more extreme every year. Since I first arrived at the University of Warwick in 2005, we've gone from heavy advertising outside the Chaplaincy and within buildings such as the Students' Union and Library, to the current mass coating of every available surface. Printed posters have given way to cardboard signs and increasingly massive banners.
In the headlong rush to secure election at any cost, sabbatical candidates seem to ignore the impact of all these signs.
I'm not just talking about an aesthetic impact on the campus environment (although, let's face it, Warwick gets pretty during election periods). I'm talking about the physical impact. Many of the signs are knocked over or blown away, leading to a massive amount of litter as cardboard and tape clogs up passageways and invades green spaces. Some candidates (I'm looking at you, Nick Swain and Zoe For Sports) are showing no respect whatsoever for living plants, through measures such as stapling signs to trees.
I doubt many (if any) of the candidates have also thought about who has to clear up after them. I've spoken to members of University staff who are already underpaid and overworked - now they have to tidy up the mess left by wannabe student politicians.
How many election candidates are looking around campus in the evening to see if any of their advertising has fallen down or fallen apart? How many candidates are planning to take down all their posters at the end of the week? Or are they going to forget all about it under the warm glow of the election party stage lights?
This is a problem that arises partly from individual selfishness, but also from the current electoral culture at Warwick. In order to be elected, it seems necessary for candidates to plaster every surface in their own image.
Every year sees are new conversation about electoral reform from the Students' Union. Perhaps this year, it should come in the form of new guidance on advertising over the election period - guidance that encourages candidates to respect University staff and the University environment alike.
Image is from the 2012 Warwick SU elections, shameless lifted from Daniel Stevens' blog.