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Life Sci elections attract 2.7% turnout

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jun 27 2004 21:02

The results of the Faculty of Life Sciences elections were announced late last week, with a turn-out that was dire even by student union standards.

Click Here for the Full Article

Jun 27 2004 23:12

Surely the President has something to say about the poor turnout. After all, a better idea would have been to run the ballot first thing next term?

Jun 27 2004 23:32

Well it's better than Birkbeck's turnout in March where just 38 people voted!

3. amram   
Jun 28 2004 01:08

Tim why are you invading our forum? By the way have you gained a handkerchief? amd what about your shock therapy???

Jun 28 2004 13:40

I have say that I'm not surprised at all by this dire turnout. I chaired the LifeSci "Hustings", which attracted a turnout as follows:

Candidates: (50%) 4 out of 8

Students: 1 out of 1500 (Tough numbers, I honestly don't care if I'm a little out)

At the medic's Charing Cross hustings, which I attended, things were slightly different:

Candidates: Lots out of lots (Probably 100% turnout, I lost count of the number of candidates, there must have been at least 20)

Students: About 300

The fact that both of Life Sci's presidential candidates couldn't be a**ed to turn up to their own hustings says a lot.

Despite this awful turnout and non-existant mandate, the "victorious" Life Sci (Read BioSoc) president sits on the same committees and represents students at the same level as the Medic's President??!!??!!??!!

Jun 28 2004 13:48

"Tough numbers" should read "Rough Numbers"


Tim: Please feel free to ignore Amram and contribute to this forum.

Amram: What the hell do you mean by "our" forum?

Jun 28 2004 14:09

I have to agree with John here. What we are seeing is one of two things. Either the students can't give a damn, or they fell that they are not a part of their FU, and are disenfranchised from their Union.

Basically, if the two FU's resulting from the disolution from the RCSU wish to continue as they are, what we shall see is that Scientists will no longer be served by the Union (from a personal viewpoint, I believe it's already started). However, if they wish to engage there members in what they, as students, expect, then we shall see them being able to represent the Scientists, as well as develop their own traditions and idiosyncrasies.

As for amram's interesting comment, it appears to me that there could possibly be some interesting back story between the two. I personally can't wait for more.

I'll finish off by saying that, when I first turned up to the College, if we had an election and turnout was less than 10%, it was declared null & void, and re-run from the beginning.

PS. Sorry for the length of the post. As an ex-RCSU Hack, this is a fairly emotive issue for me.

7. Seb   
Jun 28 2004 16:10

Okay. I think it's time to recognise that a cross campus faculty union can't work well, and a South Ken life Science union is just bio(chem)soc.

Jun 28 2004 19:53

Seb, ICSMSU works just peachy across campuses.

9. Seb   
Jun 29 2004 01:33

Pedantry asside, forgive me if I'm wrong, but I understood it that each year of medic students intake at least starts off on one campus before various people being sent their separate ways?

That is not true of life sci, as I understand it, where there is little reason for people at Wye to come into countact with people in the faculty of life science at south ken anymore than people from Physical Sciences.

And the various campuses have far more in common than the major life sci campuses do?

On top of that, there are far more medics than people in life sci anyway, meaning you are more likely to get a fully manned committee.

All things taken into account, I don't think there is a meaningful comparisson to be made realy.

Jun 29 2004 08:10

Seb, you forgot that the Medics have a Sabbatical President.

Jun 29 2004 08:36

Come now, read the question. You suggested that a "cross campus faculty union can't work well". I wasn't giving you a "meaningful comparisson" (sic), just telling you you were wrong.

All your comments (valid as I'm sure they are) are reasons that LifeSci doesn't work well, not that ANY cross-campus union can't work.

Jun 29 2004 12:19

Medics are slightly different, it helps that they stick around for 6 years instead of 3 (normal length of a Life Sci degree). Usually it takes 2-3 years for freshers to turn into effective, experienced union officers. Almost all of the 20 or so C&G Exec officers are third years bar the research rep and a handful of smaller posts. By the time students in LifeSci reach their third year, they're sitting their finals and doing their major project. It's understandable if they couldn't care less about the mundane runnings of a Faculty Union.

Also, the life sciences union setup is not as simple as one cross campus Faculty Union. Medics don't have a "Charing Cross Campus Union" or a "St Mary's Campus Union" in the same way that Wye and Silwood have their own (stronger, richer and better manned) campus unions.

13. Seb   
Jun 29 2004 12:35

Yes, hence "Pedantry asside" being the first two words. I also thought you might also be making the case that the problems with life sci might not be structural ones.

Feel free to add the implied "for life sciences" into the first comment.

I say implied because last year Life-Sciences already recognised a single committee couldn't work, and created the "South Ken Campus" committee, which in practice is just the biology and biochemistry society. The supposed fix doesn't appear to be working and that was the point I was trying to make.

14. Seb   
Jun 29 2004 12:39


An alternative model would be to try and arrange things so that the third year ex-officers are around in a general capacitiy to advise officers who would be second years having done some stuff in the first year.

But this requires a broad consensus between candidates, officers and the electorate that this is a desirable way of doing things.

Jun 29 2004 16:01

So one Wye student voted by paper ballot, and at least one- probably more- by email: making turnout a bare minimum of 2/3 of that in the Sabbatical elections, and probably equal or more. Compared to well over a hundred- getting on for 50% turnout, and over half of undergrads- in WCUS elections.

So (shock, horror) students see less relevance in a body based 70 miles away. Wow.

But on the other hand, the FU's structure isn't the only factor. BioSoc folded last year, BioChem Soc is looking distintly sickly (AFAIK no budget or committee for next year and no longer a department of its own anyway), whereas PhySoc have just organised, as a single DepSoc, one of the biggest Union events in the year- and yet (until now) all were under DSC, and so structurally equal.

So where does that leave the role of LifeSci? Well, for 2/3 of our members, I would suggest that the DepSocs' gap is the most important to fill, (we're closer in size to the DepSocs than to Guilds or Medicine) with small fiendly events, Buddies Scheme, grass-roots academic reps, etc. And yet for the other 1/3 (for whom the grass-roots, depsoc-type roles are filled by Campus Unions), we're the link between Campus Union activity tens of miles away and central ICU goings-on, and if LifeSci (with a third of our members at outlying campuses) don't put efforts into inter-campus integration it is quite likely that no one will (OK, some central officers do their bit, but in their case that is a bit corresponding to 2% of their members, as opposed to 30%).

So one body, with completely different functions for different parts of its membership, both of which must be done well for a body in LifeSci's current situation to survive.

And along with the shorter degrees, it is also very unlikely (obvious exception aside) that the non-South-Ken third of LifeSci members will be able to take an active part in running the central FU -any enthusiasm tends to be diverted in the first instance to the Campus Unions, with most WCUS officers being second-years, and who (in their right mind ;-) ) would want to run a Fauclty Union whilst completing a year worth 65% of their degree, three hours away?

That said, just as one more comparison- how about LifeSci elections last year? 2 people were elected as Faculty-level reps (the rest were seen as South Ken only- which was fairer in some posiotions than others), no formal hustings, and considering that it was at least during term-time (the Sping term, at that) I'd be very surprised if turnout was very much better.

16. Seb   
Jun 29 2004 18:35


Yes... as you point out there are some odd comparissons to be made between the scientists. I suppose some of it is, technicaly speaking, my fault.

I ran the DSC in the latter half of last year. Assuming you know the history of the implosion of the RCSU (it's probably all recorded in lives old news articles), I'll take it from the DSC.

I thought I had managed to get Life Sci and the merged Biology and Biochemistry society to work together.

Biosoc had no comittee and submited no budget, so in order to persuade BAG to give biochemistry, which is a "course not a department" it's budget they had to agree to be a society for both biology and biochemist students.

Regretably, Life Sci decided to fix the campus problem by creating Faculty of Life Sciences south ken campus committee, which was inevitably just going to be competing with the life sci depsocs on south Ken campus. However, they would not agree to take over administration of Bio(chem)Soc either. They did claim they would work together anyway. It looks like that might not have happened so well.

The general idea was to get the maths, chemistry and Physics societies restarted under the Depsoc's Committee, and then disolve the DSC so that Biochem would go back to Life Sciences and the Physical Sciences Union would have it's depsocs back in working order, rather than having to try and start an FU from the ground up at the same time as trying to start two to three depsocs back up at the same time.

In the mean time, Physoc has become very succesful but, perhaps, isn't feeding it's knowledge and experience into Physical Sciences as well as it might. Maths is ticking over relatively well, but also largely independently. Meanwhile despite every attempt to kick start Chemistry (I even tried to organise their freshers event), I'm not sure anything is actually happening.

It looks like the handovers didn't work well either.

Frankly, I wish the RCSU's officers had listened to it's societies and opted for a structure that was more confederated departments rather than presenting everyone with the option of either split faculty unions or continuation of the status quo, which was utterly useless.

Ultimately, it's about getting together a group of people that can and will put the effort in to do the job. Physoc has a reasonably large committee, but a lot of the work is done by motivated, hard working first and second years with the support and advice of third and fourth years. Actual job titles and union positions do not matter so much, and the longer people keep thrashing around arguing over who's who and who has responsibility for what rather than actually doing their job, the longer things will be a mess.

Once people find a way of working that suits them, then people should worry about things like committee structures.

Jun 29 2004 20:13

True to a point, but "strcture" isn't just an internal issue of who gets what title, the structure in the next layer up determines what is actually within the remit of that group. It is looking like there will be one group serving both biology and biochemistry now, which must be a step in the right direction when each was overstretched and fading by itself. But until a group does something we can't expect the mythical "ordinary" student to care- or at least not without a sign that said group has the *potential* to do something if run differently (the standpoint of a lot of WCUS voters this year).

What we don't want is something doing the job of one group's depsoc, and therefore having to be run by those students, whilst taking representational places that they actually share with other groups of students- as has been the case in the past, where Wye and Silwood (and until this year Biochem) students have missed out on representational involvement because those roles have carried extra responsibilities to Biologists who had no active society of their own.

18. Seb   
Jun 30 2004 01:16

Surely the accademic representational roll for Biochem and Biology should be done by their depreps irrespective of faculty level stuff?

As for union representation, I'm a firm believer that no one will care about that until they see some benefit first. In practice, I think this is best achieved by events.

It's interesting noting that despite Physocs distance from Physical Sciences, the number of Physicists standing for various faculty union posts is rising, whereas in my first year there was enormous apathy to the RCSU, and subsequently little interest in the union in general.

So if I were a life-sci student in south kensington, I'd probably try to make sure there was a bloody good fresshers event at the begining of next year for both biologists and biochemists. That helps foster an intitial sense of community and gets decent awareness. It doesn't really matter who organises the event, whether they call themselves the "campus committee" or "depsoc". As long as it's organised and done well and followed up on by smaller events. I'd probably guess that the number of people in life sciences on south ken is too small to make a reasonable organisational distinction between the "social" aspects of being a faculty union (depsocs) and representational ones (ICU) anyway.

Of course, the alternative is to have south ken life sciencers merge with phys-sci and organise scientists on the basis of campus. Would it be so difficult to have one "faculty" union talking to two faculties?

Jun 30 2004 17:33

Not a bad idea at all Seb. I get the feeling that the only realistic way forward is to merge the Scientific Faculty Unions and bring back the old RCS, under a new name if you wish. One President with a vice from each Faculty would work better than what we have now.

I just hope that someone within Life/Phys Sci has enough initiative to table a motion about this sometime before the next FU elections...

20. Seb   
Jun 30 2004 19:19

Having witnessed the "old RCS" in all it's incometence, I'd say any answer that is "bring back the RCS" means someone is asking the wrong question.

The RCS did not have very much support or interaction with it's members. It duplicated a lot of stuff with it's deparmental societies, which it routinely ignored or in some cases undermined.

If we are creating a scientists union, forget the RCSU as a blueprint lets start by building from the grass roots up, with strong departmental societies for people to build up experience that is integrated into the top level of decision making, rather than ignored.

Communications in both direction were dire.

The whole thing was far too centralised, and the union officers seemed to have the idea that people should seek and find them out rather than the other way round. As a result, at a meeting of GenCom most of those with votes voted to abolish it rather than perpetuate it. Then that turned out to be inadequate in some way on some technical grounds... frankly I lost interest at that point and interfaced with the union directly rather than through the RCS.

It was actually far more productive.

Jul 01 2004 19:40

While all these restructuring arguments have their own merits, it's important to remember that first there must be something there *to* restructure; great care is needed to ensure that these "solutions" would actually make the Union more effective for these members, rather than just assimilating that bit into a body large enough that the inactivity of that part is no longer noticeable.

As for turnout and re-runs- you've noted the importance of LifeSci having a presence right from Freshers' week, and given that travelling back in time 4 months and making the outgoing LifeSci committee efficient enough to run it then (and part of the issue was that they were waiting for help to write a constitution- in the end the election was run without one), that doesn't leave much choice. I'd warn strongly against trying to redo this years' elections in the new year, since members would then probably still have elexction fatigue the following term; fgar better, then, to just get in there now, do something, show those members that their Union could do something, and then have a full-scale election aiming for over 3% turnout for the new year's officers the following term. (And that's not just vested interest speaking- after the WCUS elections, I insisted upon a recount for my position along with all the others!)

22. Seb   
Jul 02 2004 12:27

On that I would agree. With a turn out of only 2.7%, the principle problem sounds like the FU hasn't got a high enough profile. That won't be fixed by more election, only by doing something.

Jul 05 2004 22:31

Exactly Seb. Things need to get are you going to do anything?

24. Seb   
Jul 06 2004 01:04

Ah, shrenik, but I did.

And surely you know that not only am I not a member of Life Sci, I am not even a member of the union any more.

Jul 06 2004 23:07

Damn!!! Who is going to replace you then? I was counting on you for next year!

26. Seb   
Jul 07 2004 13:53

No one is going to replace me, I'm irreplaceable.

I think Alex Guite will do a good job, and my successors in Physoc are even better than I am, so I shall not be missed.

Though as it seems I have to do a year of temping, I might be persuaded to help out on next years summer ball :)

Jul 07 2004 15:53

Come to the this year's Freshers Ball Seb! There'll hopefully be Phys Sci and Life Sci participation this year!

28. Seb   
Jul 08 2004 00:28

Hmmm. Joint Guilds/Sciences ball?

Jul 08 2004 11:27

Separate dinners, then join the engineers for the ball- Anyone know the Kangela?

30. Seb   
Jul 08 2004 12:15

It's something like

"Ladies and gentlemen of the RCSU, are you in fine voice?"


"Then lets have a kangela"

Kangela armadola,

kangela armadola,

tia tia tia,

pakimiso pakimiso,





But if you want auhtenticity, proper spelling and pronunciation perhaps you should ask Dave Parry who is a member of the RCSA.

Also, I might know where you could a certain large hunk of steel that has... sentimental value to scientists. But I think you should probably email me to discuss that :)

31. Seb   
Jul 08 2004 12:21

Oh, seems someone else is hosting the RCSU's website.

Jul 08 2004 12:53

Is Theta still hiding under Adrian Thoroughgood's bed then?

33. Irate   
Jul 08 2004 17:13

Did someone say joint C&G, life sci and phys sci freshers ball? There's NO WAY that's gonna happen! Are you crazy!?

The C&G ball always works out great, so why do we need to involve life and phy sci who'll only screw it up?! They're not exactly known for their reliability when it comes to big events are they?

I expected more sense from you John, and you're not even president yet!!

Jul 08 2004 22:03

I don't think LifeSci are actually being entrusted with any organisation- just that we can have a table or two, giving more ticket sales. As for Physical Scientists (albeit at a different level of Union structure)... hmm, how about Midsummer Night's Ball?

Jul 09 2004 00:15

Three points:

1 - I haven't yet met a single old RCS hack who can recite the Kangela in full.

2 - Freshers' Ball: I helped out with last year's with Dramsoc. We spent thousands of pounds and two days on setting up in the great hall and MDH, and basically saw no-one dance in the great hall. So we (Next year's management committee) came to the conclusion that we either had to downsize the event (i.e. a small marquee) or get more people to go to our ents. We chose the latter. So Phys Sci are going to run their own dinner upstairs whilst we dine downstairs. Yes, there'll be boomerlackas, mascots, speaches from the Dean etc and anyone who dines with us in the MDH will be left in no doubt as to where their allegiances should be. Hopefully the scientists will do the same (this reinforces friendly rivalry / parochialism etc). We also save money, and get to stage the biggest event since the last time the ICU summer ball was held on our campus.

3 - Just because I am not technically president till August 1st does not mean that I can't plan a ball that I am ultimately going to be held responsible for, if anything I should have started earlier (room bookings have been a nightmare this year). The same goes for all of C&G's officers; the incoming AAO and Welfare officers have been preparing the buddies scheme for weeks.

36. Seb   
Jul 09 2004 01:41

Katherine, you should know that the location of Theta can never be described as "somewhere in London".

I can authoratively say that Theta is somewhere in London.

37. Seb   
Jul 09 2004 01:43

I should point out that the midsumernights ball was organised by the Physics Society, not Phys-Sci, with no input from Phys-sci at a time when the Physics society was actually part of the DSC.

However, the Physical Sciences Union did organise a ball back in the first term of last year which was reasonably succesful. Very good for a group that had no previous experience running an event, and I'm sure an excelent dry run for next years freshers ball.

38. Seb   
Jul 09 2004 01:44

John, well I can, though I was never an RCS hack.

39. Seb   
Jul 09 2004 01:46

Actually, Edward Pigott (sorry if I've spelt the name wrong by the way) knows the Kangela.

Jul 09 2004 07:50

Once and for all, the Kangela is thusly:

Officer: Ladies & Gentlemen of the RCS, are you in fine voice?

Everyone: Yes!

Officer: The let's have a Kangela

Kangela Armadola,

Kangela Armadola,

Kangela Armadola,

Teia, Teia, Teia,

Pakamiso, Pakamiso,

Inkangela Kubinala,

Watsi RCS,


(Showing that my anal retention for facts can come in handy sometimes!)

41. Irate   
Jul 09 2004 09:17

"So we (Next year's management committee) came to the conclusion that we either had to downsize the event (i.e. a small marquee) or get more people to go to our ents. We chose the latter." Uh, when???!

"So Phys Sci are going to run their own dinner upstairs whilst we dine downstairs."

I understand what your saying but the whole point of the Fresher's Ball is to create a Guilds identity. A bit difficult if the place is crawling with phy sci peeps!

Oh and Ed, do you have an elected position within the Union next year?

Jul 09 2004 11:32

Come to think of it, one of the (rather few) things LifeSci did reasonably well last year was organising a ball- quite small (all in MDH) and suffered a bit from the continued division between bio and biochem, but the organisation was there, they just didn't have the stuednt numbers on that campus to quite break even.

Jul 09 2004 13:04

I've a fairly good idea who irate is and I'm sure he knows my email address if he wants to chat about it.

When did we decide this?Early June, but to be honest most Guilds officers I spoke to agreed that it would be a shame if we had to downsize. Minutes available somewhere if you're really that interested, not that it was a proper meeting of course because we can't do that till August.

"Phys Sci Peeps" and hopefully some Life Sci ones too (mostly girls), will be "crawling around" from 10 till 12. By then most people are either too drunk to care about identity. The identity part of the evening is best left to the dinner, speeches and chants.

We're also running a C&G freshers BBQ on day one, medics -v- engineers paintball that weekend, and a C&G bar night. Lots of great opportunities to push the whole identity thing.

Of course our identity is meaningless if the Scientists don't have one. This year each Faculty Union is holding a Freshers Ball for the first time since the death of the old CCUs. It just so happens that the scientists and engineers are having their dinners on the same evening, and sharing the same ents venue.

44. Nia   
Jul 09 2004 13:40

Question is, can Mr Piggott call a better Kangela than Mr Rorke's Boomalaka?

45. Irate   
Jul 09 2004 19:16

'it would be a shame if we had to downsize'.

Yes it would be but that's not what I'm suggesting. Last year's Freshers' Ball was fantastic but the Great Hall was too large, and would still be too large if you had the meagre contributions that can be expected from life and phy sci (hence my reluctance to have them do anything. If you wanna do a ball with them, it should be the Guilds Freshers' Ball, to which the 2 members of life and phys sci can attend if they want, giving them no recognition).

The number of people who attended last year was a great achievement, and so we should be aiming for the same number, but making sure that the space aquired is suitable for the number of peeps there- what's the point in having the Great Hall booked if you only have 20 people in it at the end of the night?!

'medics -v- engineers paintball'

Uh, hate to say it but having it on the same weekend will cause problems. Oh hang on, having a paintballing event will cause problems!! Over the last few years, it's been attempted and has NEVER WORKED! The last time it was attempted, the medics managed to get around, what, 5 people to go? They might not be able to make the same massive numbers again...

Where are the fresh ideas that come with new blood??! Everything that you have planned is old and stale. Use your ingenuity (if you have any), or is it safe to say that Guilds has peaked and it's all downhill from here?

And you don't know who I am Johnny Boy. Mwahahahahahaha!

46. John   
Jul 09 2004 20:22

my outlook email does not work- anyone else suffering from same problem?

Jul 09 2004 21:28

There is a SAN outage this w/e. Do you never check your e-mail?

Jul 09 2004 22:23

what is SAN- and for how long will the email be down

Jul 09 2004 22:35

Irate - I like you.

Who are you? Email me.

50. Seb   
Jul 10 2004 00:24


Perhaps we should have a bar night with the intention of finding out who calls the better chant :)

51. macca   
Jul 10 2004 14:26

seems that Shrenik likes boys...

Jul 10 2004 17:13

I'm sorry, Irate, I don't quite follow your argument- you're not suggesting the ball should downsize, just that (venue-wise) it should be smaller-scale?

The ball WILL be a Guilds Ball... for Guilds people. The last bit will be in the same place as the Sciences ball. What they are doing is planning a separate dinner, rather than having the "two" (and how many of the 300 at the PhySoc ball were scientists? And how many of the 70-100 at the LifeSci ball were Scientists? And how many of the hundreds at Wye Commem? etc.) scientists present for the bit of the evening that will be Guilds-only. C&G officers will be checking all teh arrangem,ents for their dance venue, and if by chqance the Scientists mess up their dinner that's their own problem, and if they sell fewer tcikets than expected that's still better than not having them along at all (and for the most part they wouldn't if there was no recognition of the event being for them too).

Not least of Guilds' difficulties is losing a very large number of old lags all at once right now- if this is anyone's fault at all, it's certainly not the fault of those who are making the effort to step in and try to keep things going. There'll be time for new ideas once they're actually in office... in the meantime, there's a limit to what can be done since everyone's away now and can't be consulted. If there's something specific you'd like to see, if you're that bothered about the future of Guilds, trot along to the office to lend a hand.

Jul 11 2004 00:31

SAN = Storage Area Network

It's a basically a large networked hard disk - and the SAN at IC stores all the home directorys, profiles and loads of other c**p.

It's quite pervasive really...

54. Ruth   
Jul 18 2004 13:45

Well I'm glad the physical sicences will be having a dinner. I just hope its well publicised.

Speaking as a chemist who's always felt rather left out when listening to my engineer/hack friends talking faculy/union things I will go to a dinner and it will be fun to dance with engineers after!

55. Ruth   
Jul 18 2004 13:47

By the way irate, I think you're rather rude. I don't crawl anywhere!

56. Ruth   
Jul 18 2004 13:49

What's a kangela?

Jul 21 2004 11:23

* Cant be bothered to read everyones comments *

Just make it so that anyone from any faculty can stand for election in another faculty - with the exception of engineering because we're not c**ppy.

This means Shrenik can stand for lifesci present and turn them around. And I can stand for medic president. Muahahahahaha.

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