In the past week or so, the Student Idea’s page on the Guild website has suddenly experienced a massive increase in interest concerning what should or should not be brought to the Guild Council and/or become a Change Agent.
The reason behind this stems from the publication of a rather controversial Idea, that being, to create a “Men’s Representative” position.
The response to this idea was far from, what I imagine, the author wished for. However, where fairness is due, it should be acknowledged that there was much to disagree with. The idea suffered from a lack of research (Milo Yiannopoulo’s views are almost never a viable source of information), and was seemingly one stemming from irrational reaction, as opposed to rational contemplation.
From this, there emerged a number of ideas that seemed to demand a laugh from whoever read them. Calls for “the tears of Men’s Rights Activist’s to be bottled and sold”, “a slide down Cardiac Hill”, and “a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Thunderbirds” hardly seem to bolster the ‘right attitude’ when it comes to innovative concepts (although the “MRA Tears” idea is still the best piece of reactive material that I’ve read whilst at University).
A number of Student Idea’s seem to stem from people looking for cheap laughs. Ideas such as “Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Thunderbirds” and “Badass Lanyards for all Guild Positions” are by no means serious ones, and yet they attract far larger
However, the problem, to my mind at least, does not centre around the mechanics Student Idea’s itself.
Instead, part of the the problem arises from the fact that there are only a handful of students out of the many thousands enrolled at the University who actively partake in these Idea’s. The number of people who see this innovation as one that they can use to further their enjoyment at the University is simply too low, and thus the University, that is, both the Guild and the Students themselves, need to ensure that the public discourse that Student Idea’s provides is maintained in a healthy manner.
As such, we need to ensure that a sense of legitimacy is seen within the mechanics. Student Idea’s need to be bolstered to a level where they are seen as a credible method of interacting with the Guild. They need to be sent out into the world, and become a working part of Student Life. We need continued discussions, public demonstrations of the ins and outs. As such, we need to work with the various bodies at the University to demonstrate the legitimacy of the ideas being put forward, and stamp out the impression that they will never listen, because they do.
Continuing on from the aforementioned, although we are seeing positive changes arising from these Idea’s, the Guild isn’t doing enough to put the fact out there that some of the commonplace innovations found on campus today arose not through a committee, but through a student’s desire for action. Do you want to know why the Guild now have a points system? Part of the reason behind it is because of the submission of a student idea last year calling for one. The same can be said for the increase in dietary restrictions, which, again, came into place after a Student Idea was posted on the matter.
Student Idea’s are a fantastic way of ensuring that student’s contribute to the ongoing conversation about the multitude of ways we can improve the Guild. However, this does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that they cannot be improved. We need to ensure that the Idea’s are seen for what they are; something that has the potential to become an integral part of Student Life.