More than anything it was curiosity that drew me to the Old Student Building on October 19. I wasn’t invited to the event, but everyone was welcome. I arrived at the building slightly after 9 o’clock. The windows had mysterious purple lighting which immediately suggested it wasn’t just any ordinary weekday night.
Earlier that evening the voting in the Student Union’s (HYY) Representative Council Elections had ended and when I arrived at the party, the counting of the votes was well on its way. The current standings of the vote were projected onto a screen and two hosts informed the crowd of the results at regular intervals. Tables were arranged at the edges of the hall leaving space for people to mingle.
A ripple of excitement spread through the crowd every time one of the two hosts spoke, neither of which I recognized. A whoop here and there. People standing in small groups, greeting their friends and rivals as they walked by. A glass of bubbly wine passing from someone to another. It was clear most (if not all) of the people there were either candidates or otherwise engaged in the election proceedings.
Even though I was somewhat interested in the election (or more interested than average), I felt I was looking from the outside to the inside of student politics even while I am not a total outsider. After all I did vote and familiarized myself with the opinions of some of the candidates. Looking around, I wasn’t sure what the party reminded me of at first, but then it hit me: it was like a glimpse into parliamentary election coverage on TV. I wondered how many of the people present would be attending those parties some day in the future. Should I go and shake some hands to make a good impression? Just in case? It felt strange to think I was probably in the presence of some of the country’s future politicians. Or maybe I’m getting an overly official, distant impression. I’m not sure how I feel about the presence of political parties within HYY either.
I left the party after I’d had enough of the acoustics of the place and, walking to the bus stop, I pondered whether I’d become more or less tempted to try to understand the workings of the Student Union or student politics. I didn’t find an answer then and some weeks later as I write this, I still don’t know. Despite my indecisiveness, it was a good idea to go see the climax of weeks of campaigning because it made me ask a lot of questions from myself and others. Mostly if others had seen the election night in a similar way and at least one candidate had found it slightly odd as well. I found myself talking about what I’d seen.
I don’t mean to make the whole thing sound completely alien as I’m sure it’s not. It’s more than possible that if I would make an effort to get to know how exactly HYY and the Representative Council works, it’d become demystified quickly. But I think I prefer observing from the outside.