Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Student politics: science under-represented. Why?

My friend Grace wrote a piece about the lack of science sab. officers at Uni on her blog.

She makes a few stereotypical comments regarding science degrees - some accurate, some not. Here I expand on the reasons science students seem so under-represented in student politics.

There definitely is a two-part problem here. The first is that most science students do spend a lot of time in labs/lectures/whatever (not to suggest other degrees are less work, but there's less formal structure to arts degrees, and you do more work in your own time, allowing you to structure your work around whatever-Uni-stuff you want to in a way science students can't).

This tends to mean that science students spend less time around the Union, and see it more as a place to get lunch (but only when the queue at John's Van is too long) then a real entity.

This in turn also means they're less likely to see the campaigns, or be able to go to hustings (which always clash with my lectures) or get to know the candidates leading to apathy regarding the campaigns.

As for representation amongst the Sab officers: I would have loved to run for a position (Welfare, probably) but just didn't have the time to do it. When I needed to be out canvassing I was in lectures/supervisor meetings/etc... All things I can't put off until the evening.

In short, science students would care about student politics, but the difficulty is in making sure we can actively participate.


  1. The Hustings events were all in the evening and ironically enough the only non-shower was a Politics student. I think you have a good point but it is definitely possible to bunk off a number of Labs/ lectures; again, it's a question of priorities. Besides, lots of campaigning (I'd say perhaps even the majority) carries on through the night too. The people I know who stood barely slept during their campaign. Many Arts students (especially Languages) have a lot of contact time (admittedly not as much as Science students in most cases) during the day, but the ones I knew were willing to sacrifice these. They literally abandoned their degree for a week or so to focus on trying to get elected.

    1. Bunking off labs doesn't just hurt your grade. It hurts the grade of your entire lab group. It's not something to be taken lightly.

      Maybe rules are needed on how many hours you are permitted to campaign for (per day) if bunking lectures is a necessity for success!

  2. Scientists have more to do, and less free time and energy. Yes, they could "bunk off" for a week, but a missed lab session in my department meant a lab session deducted directly from your grades. I'm not sure if you can say the same thing about the contact time of a humanities student. Certainly the language lessons I had never awarded credit for attendance.

    My suggestion is this: scientists are more able to see the world as it actually is, and therefore to recognise that politics is ridiculous.
    Futhermore, they realise that the sum impact of today's student politics upon anything of meaning is close to nothing, and decide to devote their efforts to something more worthwhile, like their degrees.