Here’s what I think: Taking a step back

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Here’s what I think: Taking a step back 1

When I began studying at the University of Cyprus, I had had the intention of keeping my hands clean of party politics while here. I thought it would be in my best interests to keep my distance from them despite my interest in politics.

Here’s what I think: Taking a step back 2
Tom Cleaver

In a timeline of events that has been documented far too much, I was persuaded otherwise, but then found myself at the centre of a storm that concluded with me being kicked out of one party and then pouring all my effort into the subsequent student elections.

Looking at the results of said elections for the party that kicked me out and the one I subsequently joined, I think it’s fair to say I made my point successfully. However, since that moment I’ve been able to take the time to reflect on the situation at large, and all in all I think I was right in the first instance.

First of all, the act of being involved in student politics is intensely time-consuming, and as a person who has enough commitments anyway, it seems to me that it would be bordering on the irresponsible to be using my time like that.

Secondly, there is the question of whether giving that much time up is worth it. The General Assembly of the Student Union is fast approaching, and I can’t help notice that the same battle lines have been drawn as the previous two occasions which have occurred while I’ve been here. To me, that suggests that no progress has been made.

a system of compromise must be created

The same arguments are being had, and the same points being made. While there are of course good points being made, is it worth getting one’s hands dirty with the arguments if they have no real impact on the world, especially when doing so is so time-consuming? For me, right now, the answer is no at the moment.

I am of the opinion that if people really want to improve the university and students’ experience thereof, a system of compromise must be created rather than the adversarial (verging on tribal) political scene that exists at the moment. Six political parties all pulling in different directions while competing to the voice of the students results in nothing much being said on our behalf.

Furthermore, the animosity between the parties is making for a lower-quality level of discourse, less possibility of cooperation, and generally a worse atmosphere around the university. Otherwise and intelligent people are seemingly not even on speaking terms because they belong to different political parties, and I know for a fact that it doesn’t need to be this way.

by taking part in student politics in its current guise i’m not particularly helping

I know systematic change is difficult and I doubt whether it would be possible given how entrenched the political parties are here, especially within the two and a half years I have left in Cyprus before I plan to depart. However, by taking part in student politics in its current guise here I have come to the conclusion that I’m not particularly helping anything other than people’s egos, including my own.

In short, I feel like I’ve proven my point within the system that exists right now, but feel equally that in order to create a student voice which represents and improves the lives of students in Cyprus, that same system must be torn up. That does not mean at all that I am not proud of the actions I have taken up until now; within both political parties I stood up for what I believed in, I simply feel like the change which I wish to see cannot be exacted within the parameters of the current system. Will I vote? Possibly. I don’t like not using political rights that I have, even if the result doesn’t seem useful. Equally, however, I can’t see myself campaigning as I have in the past in and around student politics, unless I see an opportunity for real, positive change.

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