An InsiterOnline article last week suggested that political rivals SDM and Pulse have already earmarked a number of candidates to contest next month’s KSU elections – in an exclusive interview with InsiterOnline, rumored Pulse candidate Paul Caruana Turner comes forward to confirm his candidature, explaining the motivation behind seeking a post on the council.
“The closest indication of who the other candidates are is from your [InsiterOnline] article – I’m here to confirm mine as we haven’t met each other yet,” Paul says confidently, confirming that he will be contesting an administrative post on the council, that is either of the President, Vice President, Secretary General, Public Relations Officer or Finance Officer posts.
Joining the Pulse team having built a reputation both on and off campus, Paul brings forward experience as a gay-rights activist for WeAre [the LGBTQQI association on campus]; an executive member for the National Youth Council, as well as a student representative at the Faculty of Laws – one might say KSU would be the next natural step for Paul.
However, he says that the choice wasn’t planned – he argues that such a progression was not in his hands and that the decision to contest depended on Pulse selecting him, rather than his personal decision.
“I never planned it out… I was always an active person, but I never thought I’d be asked”, he says, speaking of KSU seemingly appearing as “some sort of elite club” to the every-day student – “not that I think that I should be part of any elite club, but it seems that way from the outside,” he quickly adds.
For Paul, the decision to contest follows a campaign he spearheaded together with the law students’ association and social democrat organization Pulse last summer – on the implementation of ‘Legal Studies’ at intermediate, which would have left prospective law students unable to select a subject which was designed for them.
The issue left Ghsl and Pulse at loggerheads with SDM, ELSA and KSU – all of whom had a different approach to the issue while student representatives like Paul struggled to make ends meet when it came to uniting student organs.
Describing his motivation for joining Pulse in their campaign, he says that the he always found the social democrat organization whenever he needed support:
“In my time as a student activist, if I can call myself that, we always found Pulse when we needed organizations to back us,” Paul says, with reference to the legal studies issue, “When you need to sway public opinion or create awareness about something… you need bigger organizations, when we needed one – we always found Pulse.”
“KSU took the side of the administration, they sent us messages to keep quiet and not put the situation in the spotlight – I felt that was wrong. I thought to myself, are they joking? They’re meant to be the people on our side championing the cause.”
Further elaborating, he says that KSU have lacked an element of representation throughout the past year – pointing out that a joint stand which We Are and KSU were meant to take on homophobia in Russia never materialized. But where does Paul see KSU improving on its work when it comes to student representation?
“KSU has let the students down a lot in terms of representation”
“KSU has the potential for power”, he argues, “if you look back to 1997 for example, the KSU under Manwel Delia was able to bring Msida to a halt and they marched in the streets, they were the voice of the students. I think there we saw that there is potential behind KSU, what has happened – I don’t know, from my personal experience – KSU has let the students down a lot in terms of representation.”
Given that KSU election turnouts have stood at just over 30% at best for the past few years, the conversation regarding KSU quickly turns to one about student apathy – Paul points towards apathy as a result of KSU’s shortcomings.
“This is why sometimes you hear, ‘ah students are apathetic’, I don’t think it’s fair to blame the student – I think you should be pointing the finger to KSU; what are you doing to get them out to vote? I think that it’s not fulfilling its potential.”
He says that SDM’s success in KSU has caused the council to go into stagnation, and as a result, has left students disappointed with the council – “there’s been SDM in KSU for the past years – they have their fixed formula, this works and they’ve stuck to it… students have become disenchanted because whenever there was an issue which doesn’t seem that important to the outside world – and that’s the thing, people on the outside don’t always understand [student issues].”
“If KSU focused less on their social programme and more on student representation – then we’d see a greater input from students in elections.”
Asked about conrete proposals, Paul hesitates due to the manifesto not yet being finalized, however he says that his focus will be towards the council working better with organizations.
“The manifesto hasn’t been finalized, definitely if I can speak in more general terms, it would be more student representation – the social programme is good and fun, I think there are too many events, you have a situation where KSU events clash with events with member organisations, KSU should be collaborating.”