Hello children, it’s me again. Forgive the condescending tone, but you must all be pretty used to it by now. After all, you’ve just spent two whole weeks being told what the nice people in the big photos are going to do for you if you tick the box next to their name, all the while being stuffed with free pancakes and hot dogs and beer. The fatter the pig, the richer the meal.
This year’s student elections had their own beautiful oxymorons to reflect upon, and who better to do it than your not-so-friendly neighbourhood Nitpicker. The first glimpse I got of this year’s campaigns were the approximately five thousand and seventy four colourful banners leading up to Quad, half of which were shouting PAVING THE WAY at me, which ironically turned the whole pathway into a narrow corridor of awkward shuffling of students rushing off to their lectures against others who were just casually strolling up to listen to that horrible One Republic song being played for the sixty sixth time that afternoon. No more counting dollars, we’ll be counting how many times I had to listen to that tune while having to walk past the SDM vs. Pulse Daily DJ Mix-Off, gathering enough flyers and booklets to kill a tree or two on the way.
One of the easiest criticisms to whip out when it comes to student elections is the commonly-held belief that SDM is as much of a collection of Nationalist puppets as Pulse is a Labour megaphone. Representatives from both organisations have over the years done their very best (which is clearly not nearly good enough) to overcome this dogma, and yet, here we are, in 2014, with a now one-year-old new Government, with both groups opting for slightly different shades of blue, and most people still can’t tell the difference between student elections and national ones. All we know is that one of them has a larger bearing on society in general and our futures, and that we have an obligation to vote since our voice will have an overarching difference in the grand scheme of things – I’ll let you be big boys and girls and decide for yourselves which is which (NB: be wary of trick questions, it might be neither).
The sheer beauty of it all, however, came about when, during a heated (it was around 21 degrees if I’m not mistaken, and I stupidly had a jacket on) debate between SDM and Pulse, if one had to – if only for a second – deviate their awed stares from the two gods-to-be on the panel, they could see Lino Bianco, a Labour Party MEP candidate, sneaking around, talking to disinterested people at the back of the crowd, handing out business cards like there’s no tomorrow. He eventually made his way towards me, and because my affectionately cradling a pint of beer at the far back didn’t put him off enough, actually started talking about why he was there. I’m honestly not trying to play the part of a nonchalant cool kid here – I have no idea what he said. All I know is that by the time he was finished, I grinned and said, “What a way to promote non-political allegiance to a student group by coming here to do this today of all days, am I right?”, to which he smiled, said he agreed, shook my hand and left to harass another lonely soul. The poor bugger didn’t even get my snide sarcastic comment, and he wants my go ahead to go to Brussels.
I’m writing this on midnight of Thursday the 10th of April. In a coupe of hours’ time, my phone is going to start going off every couple of minutes, with people I barely know from sight calling me up and speaking to me as if we were long-lost lovers. I’m actually going to leave my phone charging all night, with the hopes that it would be ready to face the day with a much-needed 160% battery. One can only hope that this year, I’m offered a chauffeur service to campus, with an all-inclusive pit-stop at the new McDrive on my way there, so I won’t be forced to vote on an empty stomach. The funny thing is, I’m probably not even going to add anything to this rant after the results come out. I would have, but then again it wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever. This feels like that one time when Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park, had finished an entire episode that was pretty much all to do with the presidential election on the eve of the results coming out and of the episode airing, and then just added Obama as the protagonist instead of whoever the other guy running against him was. Different name, different country, same bull.
Now I understand that no one can afford to do the incentives we’ve seen happen these last couple of days all year round (unless whoever gets elected receives an additional 250,000 Euro just to spend on more pancakes and hot dogs), but why splurge on this one-off occasion? Why does Quadrangle need to be literally dead and dull on practically every other day, only to be transformed into the Paceville stairs when the people behind it expect something back for all the air hockey and Nutella they’re willing to offer for free (given you line up like hungry dogs and wait an hour or two in the blistering sun)? Surely, the people who get my vote are the ones who want it to be this way as often as possible? Who am I kidding though, talking about votes as if I was actually considering voting this year round. Of course, I’m not in any way urging you to do the same; brainwashing was never my forte. If you feel like things will really change if you vote for one specific group of twenty somethings and not the other, or if you’re afraid that your candidate friends won’t speak to you anymore unless you rush off and vote for them, then by all means, go forth and tick boxes. As for me though, when I feel that there’s a bigger difference than a couple of names (because I can’t even say I prefer one colour to the other anymore), then I might actually have a ponder or two about the matter. But until then, it’s downing free beers and listening to One bloody Republic yet again.