TUO’s Chair Blogs: How to become a chairperson, part 2

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Hi again, everybody!

I’m going to continue from where I left off the last time: I’ll let you know how to become a member of TUO’s representative body, and then, how to become the chairperson… Or, at least, how I became one.

First of all, you have to run for the representative body. All TUO members can run for the representative body, and you can either join an existing list or found a new one. Lists are sort of like (political) parties within the Student Union. Any TUO member can found a new list, and a list can consist of one or multiple candidates. Personally, I joined the “Tekniikan Taitajat” list that traditionally consists of engineering students.

After joining a list, it’s good to make yourself known to the voters, like you do in politics. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to run a big campaign, since autumn’s always a busy time for TUO board members. I knew that getting more votes would make it easier for me to run for the chairpersonship – or at least having lots of students supporting me wouldn’t hurt. I decided to run a marketing campaign on social media and then simply look forward to the results.

Last year, the student union election day was on November 7th, and it was preceded by a period of early voting. The early voting takes place online, and on the election day, there are voting booths on campuses. On the election night, the results are announced in the election coverage party. Naturally, I was there to see what the result was going to be.

An amazing result!

The results were announced and I found out I had gotten the second-biggest number of votes. An amazing result!

The candidate with the biggest number of votes gets the vote-puller award, which is a tiny little rake (in Finnish, the term for vote-puller is “vote-rake”). It was destined that the rake wouldn’t be handed to me this year, either – you see, I had gotten the second-biggest number of votes last year already, and lost to a member of the Students of healthcare and social services list back then, too. That didn’t matter to me, though, I couldn’t have been happier with the result.

When it comes to finding the winner of the student union election, we use the method that’s also in use in the Finnish parliamentary elections, called the D’Hondt method. First, you put the candidates within each list in order according to their numbers of votes. Next, you add up the total number of votes for each list. Then, you give each list’s first candidate the total of the list’s votes, and that constitutes their running number. Each list’s second candidate gets half of the list’s votes as their running number, and so forth. Last, you put all candidates in order according to these running numbers.

Or, as a formula:

l / p, where l = the total number of votes a list received, and s = a candidate’s placement within the list

My list, along with another list, got the biggest total number of votes. Because I had gotten the biggest number of votes within my list, my running number was the biggest of the student union election, and I was nominated the winner of the election.

(Here, I want to thank all my voters for their trust in me. I wouldn’t be here without you, and I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to improve Student Union TUO, so it can support TUAS students in the best possible way!)

Becoming a chair of the representative body wasn’t yet a done deal. Next up, it was time for a representative body mixer, where candidates for different posts would be interviewed. There, I’d meet my opponents. I was nervous about the mixer and afraid of the interview. Would I know what to say? What if I’d embarrass myself? Would I, with less than a year of experience, be able to convince others of my suitability for the chairpersonship? And, even if I could convince everybody else, would I be ready in my own opinion?

Would I know what to say? What if I’d embarrass myself?

I had thought about all this before the student union election, but I still felt a little unsure inside. Nevertheless, I decided worrying about it wouldn’t help, so I just tried to prepare for the interview in the best possible manner. After all, I’d get to meet the other chairperson candidates there.

The mixer surprised me: it turned out there were no other candidates besides me and Miro. In a way, that was a good thing. If we were the only candidates, that might mean people trust us… But, on the other hand, I had heard stories of people who, for strategic reasons, only announce they’re applying for the post at the last possible moment. That might happen, too!

I made it out of the interview alive. Next up, it was time for the representative body’s organization meeting. I didn’t yet dare to trust that no one would step up as another chairperson candidate. But now, making it seemed likely enough that I started thinking about how to do the best possible job, were I chosen for the post. I had already, quite humbly, decided to be the best chairperson in ages or maybe ever.

I had already, quite humbly, decided to be the best chairperson in ages or maybe ever.

Before the organization meeting, we met up with the freshly chosen representatives of our list. Each list chose a group leader from within. In the organization meeting, new occupants of many different positions of trust are chosen, among others the student union board. So, after choosing the group leaders, all applicants spoke about why they were applying to their chosen positions. Among others, I spoke about being a good choice.

My heart was beating and my palms were sweating. This was the moment. Everyone running for the post of the representative body chairperson was asked to come in front of the room. I and Miro made our way there, under the watchful eyes of everybody in the room. Would there be any other candidates? I was still certain someone would step forward. Of course, that was, in part, to do with my own insecurity. Was I ready to be a chairperson?

No one else stepped forward. The new members of the representative body elected us unanimously.

Incredible! I was so happy. Now, I could make all those things I wanted to change happen. I would have the chance to develop the student union’s organizational structures to the best of my ability. And I didn’t even suffer a heart attack due to all the excitement! A happy day. Miro and I thanked the representative body for their trust in us. I can’t remember the exact words we used, but I do recall that we were both smiling really widely.

That’s how I became a chairperson. Now, I only have to be the best chairperson ever. No pressure, though. I’m taking a day at a time. And in my next blog post, I’ll start telling you what being a chairperson is all about.

Until then! :)

– Jose