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WEEKEND POLITICS: The Influence of Students’ Union Elections on Campus Life

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By Lisa-Anne Okolie

In the vibrant tapestry of university life, students’ union elections stand as a testament to the democratic spirit that permeates educational institutions.

These elections, ranging from department-level choices to student union leadership, carry an impact that resonates far beyond the voting booths. They shape not only the trajectory of those being elected but also the very essence of student experiences and engagement.

Student elections come in various forms, each with its unique dynamics. Department elections allow students to elect representatives who will voice their concerns and ideas, ensuring that their academic journeys are well-supported.

Moving up the ladder, faculty elections play a pivotal role in curriculum development and shaping the overall academic environment. At the pinnacle of student elections are student union elections, where leaders are chosen to advocate for student rights, organize events, and foster a sense of community.

Electoral Committee members collating votes during the 2023 SOSSA elections held on Thursday, August 17 PIX: Stephanie Igbriwi

For those vying for positions, student elections are transformative experiences. Campaigning demands strong communication skills, innovative ideas, and an unwavering dedication to the student body.

As candidates interact with their peers, they gain a deeper understanding of the issues that matter most to their constituents. Moreover, the election process fosters personal growth, nurturing leadership qualities that extend beyond campus life.

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Equally significant are the roles of students who cast their votes. By participating in elections, students exercise their right to influence the direction of their educational environment. The act of voting empowers individuals to be active contributors to their community and nurtures a sense of responsibility towards collective decision-making.

The outcomes of these elections extend their impact well beyond the immediate winners. Elected representatives have the privilege and duty to initiate positive change. Department representatives can shape course offerings and student-faculty interactions. Faculty representatives play an essential role in advocating for academic reforms. Student union leaders, on the other hand, hold the reins to a plethora of extracurricular activities and can foster a sense of belonging among the diverse student body.

Student elections also serve as an introduction to the broader democratic process. As students engage in debates, discussions, and voting, they learn to navigate differences of opinion while upholding the principles of respect and open dialogue. These experiences contribute to the development of a well-rounded citizenry equipped to participate actively in societal decisions.

While student elections are undeniably enriching, challenges can arise. The competitive nature of campaigns might lead to divisions among students. Moreover, the potential for popularity-driven choices instead of merit-based ones is a concern. However, these challenges also present opportunities for campuses to promote ethical campaigning, fair elections, and constructive debates.

In conclusion, the Delta State University student elections constitute a vital component of its university life, influencing both those seeking leadership roles and the wider student body. These democratic exercises prepare students for civic engagement, empower them to shape their educational environment, and foster skills that transcend academia. As campuses evolve, the spirit of student elections remains a cornerstone of growth, unity, and progress.

The author, Lisa-Anne Okolie, is a 300 level student of Mass Communication at Delta State University, Abraka. Email: okolie.chuba@delsu.edu.ng

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