Vol 12, Issue 9
This year’s LSS election has prompted me to think and note upon the LSS election process and student politics more generally.
The first interesting thing to note was the style of promises this campaign cycle. The palpable electoral theme this year was accessibility and humility. Promises were made, like pledges to keep the office open, to be friendly, to stop the ‘LSS from being a closed off club’, to be a conduit for students to raise issues rather than acting as gatekeepers.
I think the reason this was such a prominent campaign issue was because of complaints about the LSS within our peer group over the past year. Varying in their fairness, these complaints substantially were about LSS members being arrogant, cliquey, or aloof.
I think these complaints vary in their fairness. On the one hand, over the last year myself and others have indeed experienced a post-victory coldness emanating from a tiny number of people who were friendly, sociable, and ready to extend invitations to fun events in the lead-up to needing votes.
However, on the other hand, I think that it ought to be said that this isn’t the case with most members of the LSS. In fact, the LSS group in my experience is, and has been, one of the least aloof and cliquey of student political bodies I have come across in a half decade of university life.
Perhaps the grumblings that drove the campaign theme should be embraced as the natural and inevitable result of the tense, competitive, type A peer environment that is MLS. People who do well in school often chase law for the tantalizing status seemingly provided by the profession rather than for lucrative reasons. It’s natural then, that a relative social benchmark like the LSS that elevates some peers above the rest of us by granting titles will be met with some scorn.
Still, I think that campaign theme is a bit of a funny thing to have as the main promise in a political campaign. An open-door policy is one thing, but the kind of intimacy promised from some of the candidates would lead me to believe I’m welcome to set up camp in the LSS office next year and save myself some weeks of rent. Of course, this level of intimacy (even in the less extreme forms that were actually promised by the candidates) isn’t possible. To be frank (aside from a few explicit portfolios) it’s just not the LSS’s role in our lives.
A lot of the LSS’s value comes through the separation, and perhaps (gasp) elevation of some student peers above the rest of us. Having trustworthy, approachable, and declared representative people working behind the scenes and representing us to outsiders and insiders of this law school is useful. This work is made easier when the LSS can talk, organise, and get on with the job in a separate group and area.
I think also something to be kept in mind is our 2016 president’s parting words about what our social idea of ‘a leader’ is. Certain qualities of personality that are associated with leadership should be examined alongside other personality qualities that can be also effective ones for leadership roles, but just aren’t assumed to be that way. I find this idea compelling, and I encourage all who do to think deeply about the qualities in personality that all our candidates have this year, and resist the urge to satisfice through reference to stereotype or a general social consensus.
Whoever wins, I hope they remember to be humble, kind and welcoming to the first years as Anna was to me in 2016. Many in this school uproot their lives to come here, and a figurehead that sets the tone of the student body in such an excellent manner has immense value to give to people.
Good luck to all the candidates.
Geordie Wilson is a second-year JD student
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