Before the candidates left for the hustings at Wye on Wednesday 9th February, many asked why? Why go 70 miles into the middle of the Kent countryside for a few students? Well, officially the answer goes along the lines of: "They are people too, they too are Imperial College students, their views matter as much as anyone else's.....". But quite simply, getting a road trip out of this one was reason enough.
Wye, quite literally is a small place, with a population whose mean age can be classed as about 65 years and yet it manages to have a Co-op, a curry house and of course Imperial College. There were two buses leaving for Wye on Wednesday, one in the afternoon and one at 4ish. The evening bus reached Wye at 7.30 pm for a 6pm start and after some food at the local take-away and negotiating the quiet and narrow lanes of Wye the candidates found themselves in the JCR at Imperial College, Wye.
The hustings took a back seat as the candidates mingled with a handful of Wye students who were in the JCR to watch the England vs. Holland friendly. There was the general Wednesday night crowd that can be found everywhere, the drunk or "I am going to get pissed tonight" rugby lads, the general others who like to watch football and thats about it. For information on how the hustings went, it might be a good idea to realise that - no one cares. Perhaps what was interesting, were the various attacks from the City & Guilds Hit Squad on ICU President Mustafa Arif, WCUS President Dawinder Sahota and ICU DPEW Sam Rorke. In addition, as the night got darker, Wye got more hostile. The rugby boys and other Wye students who had realised that the something else was also happening, now that the football had finished, wanted some answers.
Most of the hustings was reduced to an accountability discussion on the performance of Mustafa Arif, and how he has allegedly let down Wye students, who are facing the closing of the Agriculture Courses, which are at the heart of Wye College. In addition, undergraduate business students voiced concerns that have effectively been "dumped" in Wye, rather than South Kensington where they had expected to be studying.
Towards the end of the hustings, James Devine, mini bus driver, left with most candidates to return back to South Kensington. Andy Bennet, ICU Media Group Chair and hopeless navigator, accidentally led the Mini Bus in the cover of darkness towards Canterbury rather than Ashford. Once on the motorway intense discussions on political ideologies and policies as well as thoughts on the night's hustings led to a lot of loud noise in the mini bus. So when signs of the Euro Tunnel started to appear it was soon realised that we were going to France and not South Kensington. After some explanation at the toll booth and a 'Reject ticket' we headed back to London, where James Devine spoke of a Media Group conspiracy to kidnap the candidates in the name of RAG.
Most candidates reported that they had thoroughly enjoyed their trip in to the countryside but also appeared glad to return to civilization. At least our Sabbatical candidates started to understand and appreciate the large cultural gap that exists between the geeks in South Kensington and the Farmers in Wye.