Elections for the new Student Council will take place after our week's break for Chinese New Year. This week, aspiring council members from among the juniors get the opportunity to present themselves to our "electorate" - all the students at KYUEM. As I write this, two Manifesto Nights have already taken place, with the final one, for SC President, happening tonight.
Generally, a Student Council is a good thing for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it gives our young people what is probably their first taste of democracy in action. Secondly, for those fortunate enough to be elected, they have something a bit special to put on their personal statements when they apply to University. Equally important, however, is to gain a realisation of what is possible and what is not. All our students are canny enough to recognise an overly ambitious promise when they hear it. This means that candidates should be realistic about what they can deliver and what they cannot - they will surely be severely interrogated by their peers if the latter suspect that they are being misled.
This year, many of the candidates asked to speak to me before making their speeches at the Manifesto Night. Initially, I thought this was eminently sensible. However, as has happened so often in the past, our students outsmarted me. For example, a candidate might put suggestion X to me and I could respond that it sounded like a good idea. It could be something we might well discuss if s/he got elected. Imagine my surprise (and indeed, indignation) later on when I heard the same candidate say to the student body on Manifesto Night:
" I have discussed suggestion X with Dr. Paul and he has given it his full support."
I know that many British politicians (including both the current Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition) would appreciate the nascent political skill being demonstrated here.
Ultimately, the student body will, I hope, be able to recognise what is achievable and what is pie-in-the-sky. In any event, I look forward to the outcome of the elections, and of course, I relish the prospect of working with the new Student Council at KYUEM.