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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Medics - a shadow of their former selves?

Feb 18 2003 23:08
Sam Sharpe
Election turnouts are on the downturn, so is attendance at hustings.
Shadowy figures these medics...

Many years ago when I was a Sabbatical Officer (last century), hustings were something to be approached with dread. If any of you saw the previous Medical School bar at St Mary's Hospital, you'd understand what I mean. Gladys's was a dark cold oppressive place, down in a basement and hustings was touted within the Medical School as "come taunt the IC gimps!". They were held on a Wednesday night, and the Sports Teams were rampant. In one corner the ICSM Rugby team were clamouring to know why hiring a minibus was so hard, in the other ICSM Football were shouting questions about BUSA Entry.

That year there were something like 8 presidential candidates, and they were universally hated. The least popular was Richard Taylor (aka. MishMash, aka. Kevin) who was liberally doused in pint after pint of beer, thrown (often heinously inaccurately) from all points in the room. Competitions to down pints of free ale (supplied by those generous guys at Imperial Medicals Rugby Football Club) were rife, and questions were deliberately planted to cause the most damage. Candidates were systematically ripped to shreds.

I attended last night's hustings at Charing Cross and was visibly shocked. Turnout was incredibly low, with "Union Hacks" being the predominant social grouping. Looking around the bar the small number of normal students there were simply drinking quietly in the far corner, with little interest being shown in what the candidates were saying. The token ICSM Rugby player I noticed simply popped in to say hi (to me...a non medic...), having just finished an essay. (he's teetotal anyway...)

So why this downturn? Is it because Medics don't care? Was hustings badly advertised, badly timed or just not worth it? Well judging from what I've heard it's a combination of many factors:

  • Only half of the 1st and 2nd year medics are at Charing Cross on any one day, with the other half at South Ken. The rest of the medical school is distributed in small chunks around any one of the 19 hospitals that make up this sprawling faculty.
  • The event was publicised by email. Unless you have email at home, you could be forced to vie with every other student in the hospital for the 1 or 2 open PCs in some of the smaller, more distant hospitals. ICU has never discovered how to effectively communicate with such a diverse and far flung electorate.
  • No one cares. The Medical School has long since integrated with Imperial College. There are very few (a single year) Medical Students who did not apply to Imperial College School of Medicine. The topics have all been covered, everyone's relatively happy. Politics is a little less contentious so generally turnouts at Hustings are declining.

So does all this matter? What exactly are Hustings for anyway?

The answer is yes it does matter. Hustings are the only opportunity you, the students, have to question a candidate about what is important to you. You can read their felix manifestos, watch the interviews on Stoic or listen to them on IC Radio but where else can you meet them in the flesh and cross question them on a range of issues?

To sum up, integration has diminished one of the greatest institutions we have: the right to hold our representatives to account. IC Students are now too busy studying, socialising and generally doing what they do best; being students. They care less about Sabbatical Elections simply because it doesn't affect them. How many "average students" have met a sabbatical? What have the Sabbatical Officers done for you this week? And here's a question for homework... What should they be doing?

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Discussion about “Medics - a shadow of their former selves?”

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.
Feb 19 2003 15:38

I quite agree with you Sam. The medic hustings was good system of selecting first class sabbaticals.

2. Sam   
Feb 19 2003 22:36

I believe Darwin explained it best... Survival of the fittest.

Feb 20 2003 11:15

I'm really sorry to say this, but we're an apathetic bunch more interested in which night we're supposed to have @ PoNaNa's than what some officer's most of us will never meet (via being notoriously apolitical and @ different campuses) have to say.

I'm almost sure the turnout @ medic elections in the summer is better, and that we're more likely to attend hustings that people we see around and talk to are at.

4. idris   
Feb 20 2003 11:17

Hi Sam

Needles to say I disagree with the verdict you reach; the ill health of ICSM has been greatly over-stated. Medical hustings has always previously been on a Wednesday (apart from last year when it wasn't held at all - did somone mention the words "incompetent" and "Francis" in the same sentence, surely not?). Wednesdays were always crowded in the bar, hence hustings were always crowded on Wednesdays.

Feb 20 2003 15:43

But surely wednesdays aren't always crowded now idris, as one of the reasons behind the management change was the loss of money that could have been made and the low turnout at the bar in general? Or something along those lines. Hmmmmm.....

Feb 20 2003 16:19


You forget that we'll say anything to get our way! Seer

7. Sam   
Feb 20 2003 17:10

Idris, if you check the very first paragraph of my article you'll notice that I pointed out the Med School hustings used to be a Wednesday, and that this year it was a Monday...

So actually you agree with me, but you didn't actually read the article properly... you know if you do that with a patient's notes you could cause a nasty accident ;o)

8. Sam   
Feb 20 2003 17:13

And while the article was ostensibly about medics, (I just love to rant about you...) the summary at the end was the main point: what are hustings for and why don't students care any more? That's not a dig at medics, it's a dig at all of us.

Feb 21 2003 16:36

Now now Idris, there's no point blaiming me because you lost the election. I'm talking the sabb 2002/03 ones, just so no gets confused with all the other elections Idris lost...

And I think you'll find, while I'm here, that twice as many medics voted in that election compared to the one Hammish ran. Just for the record.

Feb 21 2003 19:27

The CX hustings were a bit of damp squib, but frankly so were the South Ken ones. I thought that they Wye hustings were the best - pretty much good as David Francis had told me they were last year (when we were still on speaking terms).

So we may have a substitute for the Medic hustings...

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