Hi there, I’m Akosua, your Democracy and Development Officer.
Tell us a bit about your role
One side of the role involves the democratic processes within the SU. Amongst many other things, you will ensure that mechanisms are put in place to keep the SU accountable to students and make key decisions about how SU elections are run. The other side of the job involves anything to do with buildings on campus, such as student accommodation, as well as environmental concerns. You will sit in important university committees to represent students on these issues.
What qualities make a good Democracy and Development Officer?
- Strong Vision: have a sense of the world that you want to achieve, and have the ambition and drive to put things in place which are in line with, or progress towards that vision. This will keep you on track and guide your decision-making.
- Decisive: some decisions rest completely in the DDO’s hands. It’s important to know your values and exactly what you stand for so that you can be confident in the decisions that you make.
- Analytical: it’s beneficial to be able to identify flaws in the democratic processes so that they are continually improved for the student body.
Tell us your experience of running as a candidate?
Running in the Spring Elections was a really fulfilling and energising experience. I got to speak to lots of students, get them engaged in all of the excitement and find out more about what they wanted from the SU and university. Being in the midst of it all gave me the insight into elections that I needed, to start establishing a vision of the 2021 Spring elections. Despite all of the positives, the reality is that running a campaign was hard work and very draining. My campaign team were really important in keeping up my morale and providing much-needed support.
What skills have you gained being an officer?
For me, being an officer has led to an increase in confidence, an improvement in my time management skills and my ability to put together a project.
Can you make a difference to students lives?
Unions and students’ unions have a rich history of radical activism and resistance in response to actions of institutions like universities and the government. It’s really important to remember this when we think about the fundamental role of a Students’ Union. Student-led groups and organisations are capable of so much change.
However, in recent years, SUs have become increasingly depoliticised and commercialised, with huge limitations on their power and the power of elected student officers within them. These factors draw SUs further still from their transformative historical roots and their ability to stand up for students.
If you become an officer, it’s important to try to resist this wherever you can, and make changes to ensure that the university is being held to account, and that the SU is functioning independently and in accordance with its role. As DDO, democratic processes and ensuring proper accountability are within your remit.
Writing a winning manifesto
Your manifesto is a list of changes which you try to enact once you’ve been elected.
You will campaign on these ideas and encourage students to vote for you based on these promises.
You need to make your promises appealing to voters. What do students care about? What changes do you and they want to see? And importantly, what is the bigger picture? To what extent do your promises align with the vision of the world (or university) that you want to achieve?
It’s important to think of this when writing your manifesto.
If you have strong core values that will define your leadership and decision-making, talk about them. Your manifesto will immediately resonate with many students of similar values and establish a sense of trust – that you are a political leader with conviction, who knows exactly what they stand for and will make decisions in the best interest of said students.
If you have ideas, speak to the current officer about it. They will give you a better idea about how to carry out a promise, or whether it has been tried before.
Then, make your manifesto eye-catching. To get people to read about your promises, you’ll need to catch their attention with a good design that’s easy to digest.
They won’t have long to read it, so make sure you get across your promises clearly and concisely to your voters.
Sound good? Then head to warwicksu.com/elections to nominate yourself, and make your mark.
How can people find out more?
Don’t hesitate to contact me at DDO@warwicksu.com for any advice or for more information. Or you can contact our democracy team at Democracy@warwicksu.com for any queries about the Spring Elections. Good luck!