Maynooth Elections: Are We Done With Democracy?

If at any time in the last week you’ve found yourself wanting to throttle the 43rd person that day to offer you a lollipop, you’ve probably had first-hand experience with Maynooth student politics. A long and wearisome affair, campaigning goes on for approximately two weeks. These two weeks can be summed up as a fortnight of overly chipper would-be overpaid representatives of the student body crowing about their ideas for the future of Maynooth student life from lecture halls to the SU. At least, however, campaigning has been banned inside Maynooth Library. We can all have some incentive to study more next year.

One of the main frustrations that people have within student body politics is the lack of definitive action after the lucky few have been elected. Impractical and unfulfilled promises of commuter friendly events and takeovers of the common room, one of the few social areas commuters have, have alienated a large portion of the student body. Other personal political opinions such as the recent abortion march have become forefront in elections, regardless of their impact on the student positions at stake. UCDSU has been in the limelight for the recent election of Katie Ascough, a pro-life student president. The UCD student paper criticised Ascough for emphasising student issues such as microwaves (glad to know things are the same all over) rather than declaring her abortion stance in her manifesto. In Maynooth one of the only interruptions to the campaigning process were the clashes between pro-choice and pro-life groups. Since the student union already has a pro-choice policy in place, one would think that the preferences of each representative would remain irrelevant. This was not the case, and rumours circulated about each candidate and their ideals.

The disenchantment of the student body with SU politics is reflected through the voting numbers. This year if we consider the race for student president, arguably the most coveted of the Students Union posts, the collective polling numbers showed less than 4,000 people had voted in the election. Yet as anyone who has ever attended the first week of lectures in September can inform you, our student body numbers far greater than say, four John Hume lecture halls. A simple search on the University website reveals that in fact there are 8,900 undergraduate students alone in Maynooth. Yet it would seem that the strategy of picketing and hurling sweets at onlookers is leaving the majority of the university population cold. What or who can solve this problem? Only time can tell.