The purpose of your election manifesto is to win votes.  No other reason comes close.  You should therefore consider whether everything in your manifesto is contributing to this objective.

Every single sentence, every bullet point, every slogan or catchphrase, every piece of clip art – ask yourself, is this a vote winner?  If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, consider whether it should be in the manifesto.  Even better, replace it with something else that may encourage student members to vote for you

All Things Manifesto with Student Communities Officer 2020/21

What to do

Your manifesto is an important document – give it sufficient time, care and attention.  You are seeking a job for the year ahead so you must set out why you should get this job.  Point out your key experience for the role and the top ideas that you have – in short, take it seriously.

Consult as many students as possible, not just a small group of your friends.  Get a range of views before starting to write your manifesto.

Be truthful – there are obviously election regulations governing the contents of election materials so be sure to abide by these.

It is ok to state that you are the best candidate for the post but be sure to focus on outlining your good points rather than overtly criticising a named opponent.  For example, it is permissible to point out that you are the most able candidate in a particular election and to outline your range of expertise and experience.

Instead of including lots of plain text, use bullet points, clip art, photos etc to make your manifesto more attractive – most voters won’t be interested in reading what looks, at first glance, like a textbook about student politics.

Try to get your main points across concisely, using as few words as possible to convey your key messages.

Incorrect spelling and grammatical errors should be avoided.  Proofread your manifesto carefully before submitting it.

The key information that needs to be in the manifesto may include:

  • Your biographical details (name, course of study, hometown etc)
  • The name of the post that you are standing for / the date(s) of the election
  • Why are you standing?
  • What are your plans?
  • What will you change?
  • What are the key issues facing students / the students’ union?
  • How you will address these / what are your goals or desired outcomes?
  • Outline your experience (any previous roles of responsibility)
  • Any ‘X Factor stuff’ / catchy slogans (help students remember you / make you stand out)
  • Use photos, cartoons, clip art if the rules permit it
  • How can students cast their vote for you?
  • Repeat your name and the post that you are standing for (this needs to be at the top and bottom of the document, to catch quick glances)

Ask yourself the following question – “if a student saw my manifesto lying on a table or on a computer screen, would they stop and look at it?”

You may choose to provide more information elsewhere (a website, Facebook page, contact email).  Set up new accounts for this.  Do not put your personal email / mobile number on your manifesto.

What to avoid

Make sure that you are aware of any deadlines for the submission of election materials.  Leave yourself adequate time to meet such timeframes comfortably.

Don’t procrastinate – get something down on paper as soon as possible – it will only be a first draft, so it’s ok if, at this stage, it isn’t very good.  But make a start as soon as you can.

Avoid too much plain text – most manifestos have too much text.  They look dull.  Reading them may be a ‘chore’ or a ‘task’ or just ‘boring’.

Do not make unrealistic promises – this approach does not make a candidate look good.

Do not ‘badmouth’ your opponent(s).  Your manifesto is about you – it is not about any other candidate(s).

Don’t waffle – be concise and clear.

Don’t be showing off with big words or jargon – use straightforward language, where possible.

Be careful with the use of humour – not everyone finds the same things funny.  Avoid potential offence.

Do not leave any work for the student voter to do themselves – do not leave it up to them to have to go out of their way to find out what they need to do to cast a vote for you.

Excellent Manifesto

An excellent manifesto will explain why the candidate has put themselves forward for election, will clearly outline how they intend to achieve their objectives and will demonstrate their passion to deliver change for students.

Key Manifesto Points

(1)        Student officer engagement with members.

(2)        Affordability of food and drink on campus.

(3)        Provision of social space.

(4)        Enhanced feedback mechanisms.

Example of some Excellent Manifesto content

I am standing for election because a vibrant students’ union is a fundamental part of the student experience and because I am enthusiastic about delivering positive change for our members.  I am excited about the possibility of representing student views to the University and I am committed to ensuring that your student experience is as memorable as possible.

I will work to enhance student officer engagement with our student members by introducing regular ‘clinics’ – both online and ‘in person’ – to enable students to meet with their representatives, to discuss issues of concern, to hear about student officer activity and to provide us with some feedback.  I will produce a weekly blog in order to ensure that students are aware of the work that is being carried out on their behalf.

I will meet with the relevant university personnel at the earliest opportunity to negotiate the provision of a wider range of food and drink ‘deals’ across campus.  I will ensure the widespread availability of microwave ovens and free hot water within the students’ union and other ‘destination’ college buildings (such as libraries).

At present, there is insufficient provision of social space on campus that can be used by individual students, as well as clubs, societies and other student groups.  Such space should especially be available in the evening and at weekends, when lectures are not taking place.  I will consult with the University’s estates and room bookings departments to ensure that the above facilities are available to our students.

Students have told me that they perceive the elected student officers as being inaccessible and unapproachable.   I am committed to making it as straightforward as possible to contact your student officers and I will launch a consultation exercise at the beginning of the academic year in order to identify the best ways of achieving this.   Having your views heard and acted upon is an essential part of good student representation and I am determined to improve our performance in this area.

I am currently in my final year of study at the University and I have served as a course representative and a committee member / office bearer of a student society.  I am experienced, hardworking and committed to providing high quality student representation.  Please vote for me on…….

Good Manifesto

A good manifesto may explain why the candidate has put themselves forward for election and may outline key issues that they wish to address, but often the manifesto will not demonstrate how the candidate’s goals will actually be achieved.  The candidate is clearly aware of some extremely important issues but has failed to outline what specifically needs to be done in order to meet their objectives.  The manifesto has highlighted key areas of concern but has simply listed these without providing details of how change can be delivered.

Key Manifesto Points

(1)        Academic feedback and assessment.

(2)        Student placements.

(3)        Academic support and facilities.

Example of some Good Manifesto content

I am standing for election because I have the necessary drive and experience to carry out this role.  I have completed my Co-Op in the Fees Office and am familiar with the SAA, Co-Op and Erasmus departments, in particular.

Many students will be aware that there are discrepancies between the types of assessment that our Erasmus students receive.  The University needs to address this situation and ensure consistency in the application of campus policies and guidelines for each individual student.

All students, irrespective of their course of study, should be entitled to receive constructive feedback and a results breakdown, provided in a timely manner.  If elected, I will campaign on this critical issue.

University programmes and procedures should be reviewed and, where necessary, updated to ensure that students are better matched with industry placement opportunities.  In addition, all students participating in placements should receive some form of payment for their work.  There should be more clinical placements for our prospective nurses and doctors.

Students should be provided with reading lists prior to the beginning of the academic year.

I am a final-year student and I promise that I will work hard to represent you, if elected.  Please vote for me on…….

Poor Manifesto

A poor manifesto will lack clarity, often both in terms of what the candidate hopes to achieve if they are elected and with regard to how they will attempt to achieve any aims that they do outline.  The candidate will fail to illustrate the impact of their proposals and will typically make unrealistic promises that simply cannot be delivered.

Key Manifesto Points

(1)        Better communications from the students’ union.

(2)        Increased funding for student activities.

(3)        Improved standard of representation for students.

Example of some Poor Manifesto content

I am very excited about standing for election and, as a former course representative, I am an experienced candidate for this position.

The students’ union does not communicate well with our students and, if elected, I will introduce a series of measures to improve our work in this area.  Students need to hear much more about the work that is being conducted on their behalf and I will ensure that they are much better informed.

I will work to ensure that the level of funding that is made available for student activities, including clubs and societies, is increased to reflect how important these are.  Extracurricular activities are a vital component of the student experience and need to be properly resourced.

I will also arrange for better training programmes to be provided for course representatives on campus, so that our students are better represented.

If you elect me, I promise that I will fight to ensure that the voice of students is heard by the college.