Last day of campaign for the Cambodian General Elections 2013

It’s that time of year again. Students become a gang of casually dressed cheerleaders, posters are hung all over college, stickers are plastered to multiple chairs and lockers and the majority of second years are tired of the same old story, plugging in their headphones and running away from SDM and Pulse members.

It is probably the most hectic time at Junior College. Election week is the only week some students here seem to live for. I find this to be extremely disconcerting. You either love election week or hate it. It is not possible maintain a passive stance unless you found a really good hiding spot at Junior college – in which case, please do share it.

Not To Be Blunt – Electoral Campaign 2013/2014

Usually, the ones who love it, are actually participating in the campaign, and the ones who hate it are the ones who are just trying to get through the two years at school without being in the middle of a fist fight over who has the best proposals. Don’t me wrong; some drama can be quite entertaining if you’ve had five hours of lectures without a breather.

The comment which will echo around the foyer most frequently this week will soon be “you already spoke to us,” directed at one of the campaigners or their cheerleaders. The importance of speaking with the students is obvious, because candidates and runners need to be able to spread the word around and gain votes. It’s all part of their little political game if anything. But when you’ve been in foyer for an hour and you’ve already counted the tenth person on your tally chart who has approached you to ask if they can discuss their proposals with you, it tends to get quite irritating. Nobody seems to be able to take the hint that headphones means “do not disturb.”

To my surprise, I was recently informed that some students finishing their secondary school education actually choose to attend Junior College just to be able to participate in election week. It is not because they wanted a better environment to study in or a better education.

This does not mean that all students are attending Junior College only for the Wednesday meetings, but when I see first years wearing their organisation’s t-shirts, and giving the election week as the main reason for their choice, it really makes you think wonder about what their priorities are about what the actual aim of election week is. Most of these students would have actually chosen who to support depending on a) the political party their parents vote for or b) who can throw the best after O’level party.

Even worse, once election week actually comes along they refuse to even consider the proposals of the opposing organisation since they would have already made up their mind beforehand.

A huge issue with the electoral campaign at Junior College is that once a manifesto is officially launched the chanting begins and usually leads to a massive fight which in turn needs to be handled by the security. Even more amusing – they usually fight over exactly the same things each year. Yet they still manage to find a way to argue endlessly and to get into altercations on an almost daily basis. Basically, it’s like having identical twins fighting over who looks prettier in the same dress.

All this bickering means that the organisations and campaigners are not really arguing over who can improve student life at Junior College. Instead what you have is a popularity contest, for which some people go to extreme extents for.

Mind you, the electoral campaign does produce some good results. Certain improvements made over the years have somewhat eased students’ lifestyles. Unoriginal proposals get kind of boring. They also beg the question – why weren’t they done the first time round?

Asian girl

Also, do we really need a third outdoor study area? Why are you suddenly so proud that you’re going to work on the third one done in three years? Is that really the most original thing you can think of? Last year we were promised a working monitor in the foyer when one of them suddenly stopped working. This has not yet materialised. We were also promised more monitors this year. How many monitors does one school really need? Students just look at them, the first thing as they walk in every morning, hoping that their lecturer will very suddenly get the flu so they can have a free lesson and then move on with their life.

Interesting proposals are made every year, but are constantly recycled. Changing the wording of a proposal you used two years ago doesn’t make it new – it just means you’re good at paraphrasing. We need to get our priorities in order as an entire student body, not just as separate organisations, and start thinking about what we’re voting for. Even if you’re only attending for two years, certain changes are quite permanent and can affect students of years to come. These aren’t matters that should be decided based on who has the most likes on their Facebook page.

And could you please let me listen to my music in peace as I walk through the foyer? No, I do not want another flyer. I already made fifteen paper planes this morning.