By: Alrick White| First-year Biochemistry Major
The United Student Movement’s (USM) 2021 election has brought about a ‘buzz’ since its declaration on Wednesday, February 24. I have observed a close race within the few who are running for their respective elected offices. It is no doubt that students are anxious to see the members of the 2021 – 2022 USM regime. It is also a special season considering the current impact of COVID-19 and the new normal on the regime.
After carefully watching the election debates, reading the questions and comments in the live chats from students, and noting the candidates’ manifestos, speeches as well as their responses, I made two acute and concerning observations:
- The elected candidates needed more association with the constitution of the United Student Movement, the guidelines, boundaries and penalties related to their respective offices.
- There was a sense of negativity and improper focus among the electorate. Moreover, a majority focused on the charisma and popularity of each candidate than on his/her plans to resolve current and genuine issues of the student population.
I frankly would not have wanted to believe that the electorate fits the collective description, in my mind, of ‘charisma-seeking magnetic metals’. While I appreciate the excitement of the campaign, I did not anticipate the typical Jamaican electorate behaviour from the students of a university that has high ethical standards. It is therefore my belief that a principled dual approach should be taken by the members of the 2021 – 2022 regime. This approach involves, in one half, the clear actions and motives of the elected candidates and, in the other half, a focused, unbiased and goal-seeking electorate.
Here are my humble words of advice to these two important sets of members:
To the USM Candidates [mainly the elected]:
- Be closely guided by the guidelines of the USM constitution. It is what will be used to reprimand you for any erroneous and ignorant action that you could have avoided.
- When the pressure of running a campaign starts to accelerate, you will have needed to be prepared to handle it. If you cannot navigate amid the pressure, there is no harm in choosing to “wheel and come again”. Nevertheless, prepare to deal with the scrutiny and criticism that comes with your respective office.
- If or when you succeed in becoming an officer, remember that whatever you do will set a legacy and example for future officers. Be sure to never lead in a negative light.
To the USM Electorate:
- Be the ‘non-magnetic metal’ that will have a clear focus on plans and principle, rather than being attracted to the popular norm. Lessons are being learned from your actions, even in the virtual and social spaces. Do not let the freshmen, like myself, believe that the majority of electorate votes are based on a candidate’s popularity.
- Set an active example and, without being negative and predisposed, support your candidates. Let each other know that you truly seek to elect student officers who will endeavour to advocate for and deal with the difficulties present among you.
- Remember the ethical standards that Northern Caribbean University [NCU] holds. Strive to work by them, especially during a USM election season.
A distinct example, set by both the candidates and the electorate, is a sure way of teaching new students the importance of upholding the ethos of the university. This principled dual approach can be a positive step in securing the ongoing success of the United Student Movement. It will ensure that humility, respect, and unity are maintained between the students and the administration, thereby keeping us focused and resilient throughout these intriguing times.
The views expressed in the article are solely the writer’s and not of the Hilltop Trumpet.