All but one of the sabbatical candidates turned up for a farcical 3 hour hustings, where the rules had changed to try and liven up proceedings.
The whole process of hustings at Imperial has repeatedly proven itself to be a bit of a waste of time. In the JCR students get irritated because they object to someone yelling down a microphone at them while they are eating. Hustings elsewhere normally consists mostly of hacks, except at Reynolds where it typically consists of nobody whatsoever.
In an effort to make hustings more exciting and attract a wider variety of students the Union provided free beer, wine and food. The free beer and wine proved to be the root of the problem, with a couple of the candidates and several members of the audience having had too much by the time sabbatical hustings started (NUS delegates went first).
ICU President and Returning Officer John Collins chose to adopt a less formal approach to hustings questions in order to put the candidates under more pressure. Instead of the usual fixed time for every candidate to answer a question, the hustings was more interactive, with Collins pushing people to answer questions or making them clarify themselves, in order to have a Dimbleby-style debate. It was a good idea, but poorly executed: John Collins is no David Dimbleby and Question Time rarely has a drunk audience.
Live! was hoping to record the proceedings and provide some key snippets, however in the end they turned out to be totally unhelpful. Hustings has previously been a case of only hacks, candidates and supporters turning up. This one was no different, but the increased number of candidates meant the audience was larger.
Very little information could be gained about the candidates themselves, particularly as they were drowned out by heckling or chatter. The "more exciting" format had many in the audience concerned that it destroyed any ability to have a fair and unbiased assessment of the candidates.
At the end of the day it may make little difference what happens at hustings: supporters of candidates will vote for those candidates regardless of their performance and the hacks present often have plenty of extra information to go on. It may be time to accept hustings as a big waste of time and find an alternative that works.
ICRadio will be interviewing the candidates this week, at the following times:
- Deputy President (Clubs & Societies): Tuesday 20th @ 11am
- Deputy President (Finances & Services): Tuesday 20th @ 12pm
- Felix Editor: Tuesday 20th @ 1pm
- Deputy President (Education & Welfare): Tuesday 20th @ 2pm
- President: Wednesday 21st @ 12pm