Democracy, in all its splendiferous glory

So, many of you in the Bangor area will know that the SU elections have been and gone, and that the four officer trustees have been elected for the next year. Elections are always an amazing time of year for the Students’ Union, as dozens of passionate students take to the streets, engaging with students across the University, highlighting the good work of the Union, and getting students excited about change. Now, I’m not going to pretend that every single student stops, chats, asks detailed policy questions, and then commits to vote for the candidates that they think will best improve their time in Bangor. But it is these students that can bring joy on a rainy day – students who try to sneak past the rat run of democratic enthusiasts with phone clasped to ear, or headphones firmly plugged in. Once they stop, initial disdain can quickly shift to interest, as they realise that the SU doesn’t just exist in a parallel reality, but works every day on issues that are relevant to them. Students suddenly realise how they can be part of the solution, enter discussions about the purpose of Higher Education, and become ambassadors for both candidates and the election.

Yet this is often a time tinged with sadness. While the student movement is rightly based on democracy, the competitive nature of elections means that there can only be one winner, with excellent candidates sometimes missing out by minuscule margins. I can only imagine how stressful, painful and pants this must be. After days of immense work, and weeks/months of preparation, the disappointment must be immense. (As a side note, it is also a massive shame that this passion and knowledge is not systematically captured by Unions, although I am aware of the challenges here).

I know the pain of losing elections first-hand – back in the days when growing a beard was an ambition, I ran to be a member of the UK Youth Parliament (a fantastic organisation, by the way). Needless to say, I lost (by a very, very slim majority). I was absorbed into a group called the Young Person’s Shadow Executive, which ended up being more productive both in terms of ideas, and in the skills I gained & the opportunities afforded to me. It was through this group that I was offered a job with a national charity, and had direct contact with senior members of the County Council. More importantly, I learnt (for neither the first nor last time) that failure is the mother of success, that for every door that closes, another one opens, and, most importantly, that life is way to flipping short to live in the past (even if I am a historian!). Take shaving – during this period, I learnt to shave (just before I started growing a beard). Not from my dad – my parents were divorced, and short weekend visits were too precious to focus on menial tasks. Instead, I walked into my local boots, and asked staff how one went about taming facial hair. Looking back, I realise that I missed out on a massive transformative experience with my dad – but the bottom line is that what has happened has happened, and all I can do now is focus on the future.

So to anyone who has tried something audacious, no matter what the result – remember the experience, focus on what you have learnt, and know that you have the power to be absolutely amazing 🙂

Have a lovely day!

Ant


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