The elections within the societies present in the various circuits of colleges and universities are an awaited event for many. However, is it a wise choice to conduct the elections in such uncertain times? Read on to know more about the same.
Elections in Offline Mode
Life before the pandemic feels like a utopian dream now. As I write this down, my mind drifts back to the vibe that society elections used to possess. Not the online elections but the offline ones; where you can see the candidates in flesh and blood and not through the medium of a screen.
During the offline mode, society elections were no less than a secret love affair; found in the whispers and talks of every group. “I heard she is standing up for GenSec?”, “Did you know XYZ already chose their President without elections?”, were some of the common lines that you can hear among the student communities during the society elections duration.
Starting right from the nominations to the organization of the elections, everything was filled with pomp and show during the offline mode. Two sets of students were most visible during the filing of nominations; the silent ones and the ones with adrenaline rushes. Such diversity enriched the air of excitement and nervousness of the elections. After filing the nominations, the campaigning aspect was something to look out for. While some bribed their classmates/ friends with the samosas of the canteen to vote for them, some used to prepare for the D-Day with their speeches.
An artistic representation of society elections (Credits: Wikipedia)
The election day was the most anticipated one among the rest. One could decipher nervous candidates revising their speeches, again and again, praying to the Almighty. The duration of the speeches witnesses the audience transforming into critiques. While some societies used to confine themselves only to speeches, some of them had other criteria as well: number of events participated by the candidate, previous contributions to the society, etcetera. The results day was a portrayal of emotions; happiness and sadness both gulped down the candidates to the core. The dedication for celebrations among the winning candidates is seen to be more than their dedication to their respective societies.
Elections in Online Mode
DU Societies take themselves way too seriously. As a massive dearth of oxygen and medication plague the country, hundreds of people lose their lives with an army of pyres burning. It is concerning that these entities choose to be oblivious of the same and still continue on. No matter how accommodative they try to be, ignoring the darkness around one isn’t easy. In this mix are colleges that follow a ‘cabinet’ system wherein every society selects 12-16 postholders.
The pressure now intensifies as every person in the college not just feels compelled to be part of these societies but also to be able to get a Position of Responsibility (POR) for their curriculum vitae (CV). Having to worry about an oppressive college structure that constantly pushes for people to receive PORs in a deadly upsurge pandemic is concerningly tone-deaf.
A meme on society elections (Credits: DU Beat Archives)
With time, colleges have gone from simple elections to full-fledged corporate recruitment processes. Plans of Action, Vision Documents, Mock Cabinet, and Statement of Purpose have become the object of affection for these toxic minions who call themselves society heads. For people who themselves have no idea where and what they want in life, they do have way too much confidence in their ability to grill others.
The process online now looks like presentations, questioning from seniors, and the trademarked toxic questioning from opponents. Voting procedures for societies that opt for elections are questionable at least with Google Forms among many others being used. The fact that conducting elections online is arbitrary and there is no clear way to ensure fairness has been among the many reasons the University hasn’t released guidelines on the conduct of college Union elections.
While the societies go on preaching that they care about their members and conducting elections now is nothing but a crystal clear act of hypocrisy.
Elections are selections based on popular demand, which ideally; should revolve around quality work shown by the society members. But, during such times; more than good work, most times it is mere popularity resulting from various other reasons that come into the limelight. This leads to a lot of capable people, standing no chance.
Effect on Candidates
Standing up for the elections requires a lot of time and dedication from the candidate’s end. In such circumstances, should a candidate go and think about how to campaign or look after his/her/their close ones who are being succumbed to the virus?
I think it’s not the right time to conduct society elections considering how badly India is hit by COVID-19 and a lot of people we know from college are getting affected one way or another. We have to consider that a portion of such people would be interested to contest in as well.
Missing out on the same isn’t an option as well because the elections happen only once a year. Should one lose out on an opportunity that will bestow them with a great opportunity to learn? Rhetorical questions as such are only confusing as one ponders about the same.
It is mentally and physically exhausting to deal with these selections with all that’s happening. More or often than not, these processes are fiercely competitive. With things going online, even unintentional statements leave a deep impact on others as the loneliness caused due to the lockdown manifests in different ways for different individuals. I have had the privilege of understanding seniors but it still doesn’t solve the toxic nature of the process itself and sourness that festers into the society during the process.
Effect on Voters
Another aspect that enters my mind now is that how is the audience supposed to judge the candidates in such situations? During society elections, as much as the candidates play a vital role, so do the voters i.e. the audience as well. In such difficult times, we can only expect a handful of people to join in and listen to the candidates with attention.
Also, most of the first-years who have to select their core members hardly know anything about the candidates, all thanks to the online mode. Offline interactions would have given the audience a bit of idea about the eligibility requirements for a certain position but now it’s haywire.
In times when even the classes are suspended, it is idiotic at the very least to expect us to work for soc elections. First of all, we have been having no real college experience whatsoever, and societies are one of the ways we did that, however little portions of that and many of us have ideas and hopes for our years in the socs. But to expect us to do that right now, how would anyone with an ailing family member do that?
Last but not least, the current first-years are completely clueless about the elections that happen in a society. How can you expect such ignorant torch-bearers to move their respective society forward? Many of them are even contesting for positions that they have little or no idea about. Leave out societies, the first- years didn’t even have the experience of how the society actually functions. I would prefer not to speak much further about this.
Online elections; the new normal (Credits : Ubisecure)
I believe that the show must go and on, and even a sliver of luminous distraction is welcome in these dark times. Society elections are the lowest tier of students’ politics, and suspending a fun activity that also teaches us a lot, seems pointless to me. The new union post-elections would continue the work, keep unbroken the chain of societal vigour, and work is welcome any day, so long as it keeps my mind off the tragedy surrounding us and doesn’t overstep into my mental health.
However, there exists a certain group of students who want the elections to happen. Be it their own personal reasons or a source of entertainment that society elections will bring in such depressing times, the reasons are legit and vivid. If everything is continuing on the online platforms, then why not society elections?
Also, the Presidents and Vice- Presidents are mostly from third years and want to put a wrap on their tenure. The reason being the upcoming final year elections, placements, etcetera. We all can agree that the final years of college are hectic, added to which is the handing down of societies to the other junior members. This leaves out no choice on their end as well except to conduct the elections now because picking up individuals on their own personal choices is a worse option.
Featured Image Credits: Saatchi Art
Read Also: How to Pick the Best Society for You?