Yesterday’s SU referendum

I’m incredibly disappointed to have lost the referendum I have invested the best part of a month in. It is crushing to see so much effort result in no visible or actual change.

The cause, getting the Union to stop selling tobacco products, is one that I am very passionate about (if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have spent so long trying to get this far with it) and I knew it would be an uphill struggle to try and get it passed, let alone get a referendum on the issue!

This wasn’t the only reason why I was fighting this campaign, though. In December, I was defeated in another referendum regarding the (then) proposed changes to the Union’s Executive line-up (the full-time and part-time officers). I learnt lessons from the way I campaigned then, and I was determined to take it on board and achieve a victory for a cause that I feel strongly about and one that doesn’t receive as much attention that it should.

As some are aware, Sussex has a history of boycotting products that are controversial and have poor ethical and environmental backgrounds, so I expected that a boycott of tobacco could find support. Of course, there are several students who do smoke on campus, which complicated matters.

I campaigned alone, with limited advice from a few friends and, of course, I am very grateful to have gained the support of over 500 people from just my hard work alone. The problem is that I often set very high expectations of myself, and when I can’t reach these (sometimes) unattainable goals, it is all too easy to feel incredibly downbeat about it.

Originally, I said to myself that I would be happy to be able to have a referendum on the issue and be able to debate the issue with other people. However, once the referendum became a reality and no-one stepped up to actively campaign against it, my expectations changed and I began anticipating that I might win. This is what makes losing all the more crushing.

This is not to mention the depression I have suffered for a long time, which I may talk about properly another time.

Now, where do I go from here? As I wandered around Mandela Hall after the results yesterday, many people suggested that I run the referendum again next year, citing the BDS vote as an example. This is something I am considering, but after being beaten by almost 200 people I feel that it might be wrong to make people vote on the same issue again. Also, I have the predicament of (possibly) wanting to run for a full-time role, which would then result in me campaigning for two things at the same time.

All I know is that campaigning isn’t something I can do alone any more. I’ve had too many experiences of fighting campaigns single-handedly and all it does is result in defeat. If I am going to be successful in referenda or election campaigning in future, I will need a group of people around me to keep me going and to help me out when I need it. Only question is who?

Be back soon,

Daniel

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