I’ve Failed At Democracy

(because UCL has such a good track record with this sort of thing anyway)

UCL is currently gripped by election fever – and I use ‘gripped’ in the same way that one refers to the spread of glandular fever amongst a group of people, a few poor sods have to engage with it, and no-one talks about it for fear of upsetting someone simply by having a different opinion on the disease to them – and I decided to cast a few votes for people and policies I support (a revolutionary approach to politics, instead of the generations-old ‘vote for your mates’ method that this country’s political system is built upon).

But I’ve been prevented from voting for a couple of positions, the Women’s Officer, BME (Black & Ethnic Minorities) Officer, Disabled Students’ Officer and LGBT+ Officer, because I’m a cisgendered, straight white male without disabilities. Now, I totally understand and agree with this system – women know what women want, disabled people know what disabled students want – so I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m the one being politically marginalised and socially repressed when people like me have basically been running the Western World for pretty much the last five thousand years. But one amusing thing to come out of my apparent failure to do democracy is that I’ve literally failed; in clicking on the ‘more info’ button when presented with the ‘you can’t vote for this position’ notification, I’m given a list of conditions I must meet in order to vote – and for something like the Women’s Officer, the ‘self-define as a woman’ option is followed up by a big red ‘failed’ icon.

That’s right; the wording of the actual UCL elections means that I’ve failed to be democratic.

Can we not use such a term, guys? The key idea behind successes and failures is that one can turn into the other; if you fail to get an A on one particular essay, there’s always the potential that you’ll succeed in getting that grade the next time. Yet this idea of progression doesn’t really fit the whole ‘are you a woman?’ criteria. I’m not ineligible to vote because I’ve tried to be a woman, failed, and have now had to fall back on being a man; and I don’t spend my days working on ways to become a woman, as if identifying with that particular gender identity is a thing that I can achieve.

So maybe do away with the rigid pass-fail division of voting criteria, UCL? This isn’t a major point, but I’d like to abstain from your pointless image of democracy because I’m an apathetic bastard, not because I’m not gay enough for your liking.


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