As voting for the OUSU elections gets into full swing and the waiting begins to see which presidential candidate will be victorious, it is a good time to look back and reflect on what has been an interesting few weeks. One, rather eccentric candidate has captured the interest of many and brightened up a fair few fifth weeks (although of course hopefully we will not have to see too many more of them should he win). However behind all of the monorail plans and hobbit quotes, I believe Louis Trup has done a huge amount for OUSU, even in the likely event he doesn’t win.
I, like roughly 80% of the Oxford student population, didn’t vote in the last election and I would bet that like me, a large majority of that 80% had no idea about the finer workings of OUSU. Despite this previous apathy, I have found myself remarkably drawn in to this year’s election, turning up to husts and asking questions about policies I found dubious. What he has done is highlight issues with the system and more importantly, get people involved without patronising the electorate with pointless rhetoric and rehearsed parliament-esque hand gestures. I personally believe some of the policies of the Jane4Change campaign are frankly preposterous, mainly on the welfare front. Spending money on a petting zoo that could be spent providing help to students who have serious issues through a better counselling service is just insane as far as I’m concerned. However should 80% of the student population come out, after weighing up the options and say that this is what they want, then I would accept that this was what my fellow students needed. The turnout statistics show that this is just not the case though.
Along with using his platform to put forward his own ideas, Louis has pointed out, often through the medium of song, how this small turnout combined with the slate system and a big Labour club portion of the vote means that often the actual policies are irrelevant to the outcome. Alongside all of this, Louis has made some seriously relevant points, calling out the aforementioned dubious welfare plans and putting forward ideas regarding the importance of the JCR and the distance that OUSU seems to have from the student population. More and more throughout this campaign, he has abolished the label of “joke candidate” and put himself forward as a genuinely serious, independent voice that is unhampered by the OUSU and indeed the wider political bubble. Louis’ experience doesn’t stem from public speaking training or a background in campaigning, but from genuinely being on the ground, helping people; volunteering for mental health charities, being a huge face in the Oxford Hub and a prominent face in many other good causes. My genuine belief is, if he were to win, he could actually provide some reasoned change to a rusty system and give future candidates a bit more to think about when deciding policy than how many doors they can reach.
It’s not just the message either, but the number of people the message has reached. The discussion is taking place and this is what OUSU needs, it needs apathetic, lazy, disinterested students like myself to get passionate about things that mean something to them and to ask questions, to pull candidates up on ridiculous policy and most importantly, to vote. In order for OUSU to be representative of the student body, the student body needs to critically assess manifestos and turn out at elections. So thank you Louis, you have done more for OUSU than many career politicians who have gone before you and at the same time, made Oxford a brighter, funnier place to be.