In light of recent events, the very famous quotation by Mahatma Gandhi first comes to mind; “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Whilst SDM fully understands that the turnout of the Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU) elections leaves much to be desired, and is doing its best to tackle it, the fact remains that the essence of democracy requires that the ultimate power is in the voter’s hands. This, as is the case in this regard, is in the students’ interest and thus, it is up to students, including Pulse, to participate and put forward any proposing motions.
Unfortunately in its latest press release, student organisation Pulse expressed its discontent to the supposed inconsistency in KSU’s workings. This is extremely disappointing due to the fact that in recent years, Pulse turned to the culmination of inconsistency itself by contesting only when it deems fit. We suggest that Pulse backs up its claims and sets its agenda straight by explaining any propositions. When all is said and done, it is of extreme importance that in the next Annual General Meeting, Pulse would still hold the same argument and put forward a motion for the student to discuss and vote for. It is quite strange that in this aforementioned press release, Pulse calls onto SDM to put forward such a proposition when they have failed to do so despite bringing up the subject a couple of days prior to the AGM. Here, one should note that despite criticising the present system, for time and time again, Pulse have failed to propose a concrete alternative and thus, making it clear that this argument is the result of losing one election after another, and their lost hope to one day convince the majority of the students.
It is also important to point out that the current system is not a “winner takes all” system as the electorate votes for each of the candidates independently in accordance to the position in which they are contesting. In 2012, the Kunsill Studenti Junior College saw a mix of Pulse and SDM representatives being elected through this system.
Therefore, the current system offers the possibility for everyone to put forward his nomination either as an independent candidate, or as part of another team rather than SDM and Pulse. As a result, on various occasions, other organisations and independent candidates have contested these elections. An example to this would be the 2009 KSU elections where KSU was contested by ACT (a group of organisations which Pulse formed part of).
Other claims that the KSU Executive is not truly representative, and thus implying its irrelevance are extremely shocking. The KSU, through its diamond structure, gives the power to all student organisations at the University of Malta who together decide the KSU’s positions in the KPS (Commission for Social Policy) and also to the Student Representatives in the KE (Education Commission). The KSU Executive’s job is to implement the decisions passed through these Commissions. Contrarily to what was claimed by Pulse, KSU has been working towards improving the current system and in fact, last year it founded a sub-committee which discusses Online Voting to which Pulse President Mr. Wayne Sammut and Financial Officer Mr. Johnluke Ellul form part.
Last but not least, SDM is disappointed with the comments made by Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat who stated that during his time at the University of Malta, he did not find the use of voting in KSU elections, especially in light of the fact that the electoral system at the time was different to the present one. Such an important political figure should lead by example, and promote activism and discussion rather than apathy. With this in mind, similarly, if Pulse is so concerned about the KSU Elections’ turnout, it should have contested the elections and do its best to offer an alternative and encourage people to vote.
You speak about representation, yet you fail to contest elections; You speak about neutrality, yet you applaud the Prime Minister for putting his finger in student politics; You speak about a system of better representation, yet we are all still waiting for such a proposed system to be published; You speak about a system which is not representative yet you celebrate your win at MCAST through the same process; You speak about democracy, yet you censor any comments on your page which do not conform with your message.
SDM is all for discussion, but in the meantime do not undermine KSU’s or KSJC’s reputation or work. We have been the catalysts for change and have introduced numerous beneficial initiatives which you have year in, year out, tried to undermine. These include any parking initiatives, the drive-in cinema and even the water fountains, where you even doubted the potable water’s hygienic level.
We here call on Pulse to offer a concrete solution and in turn SDM vouches to be on the forefront of implementing the best possible system. Until then, SDM will not stoop to any political level and will continue working in favour of the student body.
We conclude by emphasising SDM’s independence and autonomy, as stated in SDM’s statute – “SDM is political student organisation, which is autonomous and independent from any political party or other organisation” (Article 2.1.1). SDM dictates its own agenda and acts on behalf of the students it represents across Malta and Gozo.