Sunday, November 29

The vote of the students is expected to be decisive in the elections to the Rector’s Office

Students on the campus of the University of Alicante. | PILAR CORTÉS

The vote of the students could be decisive in the next elections to the Rector of the University of Alicante (UA) attended by professors Amparo Navarro and José Vicente Cabezuelo and which will be held on December 3, although early voting has already started . The student body has not traditionally gone to the polls en masse to elect rector and that is why the two candidates to succeed Manuel Palomar are trying to mobilize them as much as possible. Acts with them, use of social networks to transmit their messages and massive emails are the order of the day this electoral campaign.

In the elections to the Rectorate, the vote is weighted. The group of the professor doctor is the one that has the most weight, 55%, followed by the students, 26%, and the administration and services staff (PAS), who have a percentage of 12%. The remaining 7% is divided between non-doctor teaching staff, teaching assistants and research staff in training – 3% each – and associate, emeritus and visiting professors, with 1%.

In the last elections there was only one candidate, Palomar, who ran for reelection, which logically turned out to be low. We must go back to the last “face to face”, which occurred in 2012 between Palomar and the professor of Chemical Engineering Antonio Marcilla to see the percentages of votes by group. And in that case, the students who went to the polls were approximately 10%. For their part, 87% of the PhD professors cast their ballot. If, as happened on that occasion, 70% support a candidate – Palomar – the vote is practically decided, but if the differences are shortened, the students can tip the balance. Hence the importance of mobilizing the maximum of the 26,000 students who can exercise their right. One part, those who are part of student associations and delegations of faculties already are, but the challenge is to reach the rest. And also to first-year students, among whom many are also not clear about the rector’s powers.

Among the students with whom this newspaper has been able to speak there is everything, from those who “pass” completely because they believe that whoever is chosen is not going to change their day to day on campus or in their studies, to those who they have very clear who to support and why. Others admit that they will be advised by students who are part of an association or the Student Council because they understand that “they are more involved in all this and find out more about who may be the best option for students.” But the number that will finally go to vote is unpredictable, among other issues because these elections are also marked by the pandemic situation. In general, students are more interested in practical day-to-day issues such as whether the 24-hour library will reopen without schedules or if they can organize with dual teaching to attend all classes, whether telematics or face-to-face, than by the major goals of the institution for the future.

Another important issue that could affect participation is the voting mode. The elections are called in person, but after the recommendation of Public Health to carry them out electronically, the possibility of a change is opened again because, in addition, the company that should be in charge of the process, which was in suspension of payments and therefore not it could provide the service with guarantees, it has been acquired by a multinational and formal and technically it could be contracted by emergency means. Another thing is the legal conditions having already started the early vote, a question that the legal services of the AU would have to clarify. It is by no means a remote possibility. In fact, the unions are considering forcing the inclusion of this point on the agenda of the next Governing Council, for which they would need the support of five members, and that this question be voted on again.

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