If we don’t act by the 20th November, loads of students are about to go missing and the weird thing is that no one is talking about it. Loads of us are about to go missing off the electoral register as Individual Electoral Registration begins, and with that, we’ll lose our voice. The gist of it is that the Conservatives want to reduce the number of MPs down to 600, and so are working out how many people live in each constituency, and then are trying to round them down – through redrawing the boundaries – to 600. Now, this sounds pretty dry. I mean – who cares if Leeds North West stretches out a bit further, right? You’d be forgiven for thinking that this whole thing doesn’t really affect us. But the thing is, it really does.
The way they’re working out who lives in each constituency is by looking at how many people are registered to vote. So if students aren’t registered to vote, it’s like you don’t live here. You’re missed off, and you become invisible to the government. And if you aren’t there, they’ll just add more people in from further afield. This means that if you guys, as students, don’t register to vote by the 20th you will not be reflected in these new constituencies! We will have constituencies that don’t reflect our communities. Take the example of Leeds North West where loads of students (including myself) reside. If students don’t register, they’ll act like we don’t live there and bring in loads of people from outside the constituency, which is pretty ridiculous. This means that the student voice will be really diluted, and working with our MPs will be really difficult. When we’re only represented as a tiny fraction of a constituency (when the truth is quite the opposite), our influence as a collective is diminished.
This is outrageous. Students are such a big part of the Leeds community. But due to our patterns, the way that most of us move house each year, we’re not as likely to be registered, and so not as likely to be heard in these new constituencies. Because of the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration, loads of people are falling off the register as it is – but it’s even worse for us because most of us end up moving house every year, meaning we need to register every year! When we as students use our collective voice, we can create change – we’ve reduced crime in our communities, lowered the price of bus fares, and even shut down dodgy nightclubs. Our voice is powerful – and we are at risk of losing it.
Students are already getting rinsed by the government. Who can forget the hike in tuition fees? Now we’re about to lose maintenance grants, something which will be of huge detriment to poorer students. We’re also about to get some ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ which judges the quality of your teaching on some dodgy employment statistics, and then allows ‘excellent’ universities to raise tuition fees even further! Students are getting totally shafted, and if we don’t stand up for ourselves now, it’s only going to get worse. Time is running out to save the student voice – we have until 20th November to register or we’re invisible. Get registered, tell your friends. Don’t let the government drown us out!
Freya Govus (Welfare Officer)