Two lists competing for the student vote: what’s the difference?
It’s Student Election Week and CBS’ Solbjerg Campus is buzzing with activity – and will be until voting closes on Friday 25 November at 14:00.
This year, two different election lists are having a showdown at the main square: longtime staple CBS Students and, right across the aisle, the newcoming contender CBS CLS (Conservative & Liberal Students) – both running booths, handing out soft drinks and eager to talk to students passing by.
CBS WIRE talked to each camp to find out: what sets the two lists apart?
Casper Øhlers, 3rd year student (BSc in International Business and Politics), President of The Conservative and Liberal Students organisation (CLS), , which is also home to the Danish Liberal Party (Venstres Ungdom) student politicians. Member of the Danish Conservative Party’s youth organisation (Konservativ Ungdom) – and recently a Parliamentery Election candidate.
“The important difference is that we have mutually agreed on policies for five flagship policies at CBS: Bring back Nexus Thursdays, record all lectures, identical economics courses across programmes, transparency in the graduate admission process, and student access to course evaluations.
“If you vote for our list or one of our candidates, you’re guaranteed that your vote goes to the five issues.
“At CBS Students, the individual candidates have their own flagship policies on a joint list so you risk your vote going to a candidate you disagree with if the candidate you choose does not get elected.”
Do any of your core issues stand out as the most important? To you and the students you talk to?
“Definitely, yes. We need Nexus back, either in its original form or an improved version, maybe with more student ID checks.
“The problem is we are dealing with a youth wellbeing crisis in society at large after COVID. Many students, myself included, have hardly set foot on campus in the past two years, and we need a strong magnet to bring people together. It’s especially damaging to exchange students and the new international students coming to Denmark with hardly any social connections. I think CBS is letting students down by not helping to reconnect social ties by creating the social framework. CBS societies and clubs at programmes are fine, but they require either strong commitment or don’t offer a casual place to meet other students across the university.”
Last year, CLS did not have the opportunity to campaign on campus . How do you feel about this year?
“Fortunately, it’s much better than last year. We have a stand like CBS Students, we can give away stuff and talk to students, so in many ways, we have equal access to democracy.
“The difference is that we don’t have the same organisational capacity to run a campaign. CBS Students can use its secretarial support to get sponsors of e.g. ice cream and soft drinks for the campaign. But, we are doing a great job of using what we have. And we hope to win more seats this election, which will give us money for the organisation – DKK 15,000 per seat. Due to uncontested elections, we have already secured two seats on study boards. And we are hoping for a seat in the Academic Council.”
A few steps across the busy aisle we found the CBS Students representative, ready to answer the same question: what’s the difference?
Lars Hansen, Chairman of the Board, CBS Students, BSc – Business Administration and Psychology
“We are saying to students we talk to down here: the difference is that we are not affiliated with political parties. We run to represent students rather than party politics. We do that by hosting Senate Hearings each term, inviting students and especially student representatives (from all lists, Ed.) to come and talk about what’s going on at CBS, and say where we should focus in order to develop CBS. We take the issues and push them further down the line – this could be in CBS Students, in study boards, in Academic Council etc. Our candidates also work in close collaboration with the CBS Students team to push the right agendas.
“And we take meetings with e.g. Senior Management to address issues. We represent the students, and therefore don’t always see eye to eye with them, but we do what we can to make them solve the problems.
“We are a bit sceptical about the CLS ‘flagship policies’. A lot of it is mainly up to the study boards to decide, and some things are regulated elsewhere.
“The one about bringing back Nexus is a bit amusing. CBS Students owns Nexus and we fought the battle when Nexus Thursdays were closed down. Not CLS. So it’s weird that they are actually promoting our business, now that we are contenders in the election.
“We love Nexus. It is our ‘baby’, and we are trying to get it up and running again. But we have learned that CBS Senior Management will not be our partners in this. The alcohol policy is that CBS does not want heavy drinking and late-night clubs on campus. We have been able to push the opening hours to have a Friday evening bar until 11, but it’s not easy to replace Nexus Thursdays. We would like the parties back and we would like Nexus to run them. But politically at CBS, it’s beating a dead horse. I don’t know what CLS can contribute that has not been said already.”
Does anything in particular stand out from your chats with students?
Absolutely. Overarching issues among many candidates are mental health and student wellbeing. We don’t think these are prioritised enough. For instance, we have a yearly Awareness Week campaign in early October focusing on student wellbeing and personal development. But this was overshadowed by the marketing information on the 19 degrees and energy savings at CBS. That’s a shame. And a week is not enough: I miss a continuing focus and information for students.
“And another key cause is to involve students in decision processes. Recently, we saw the MSc MBA (cand.merc) decision being postponed by management because of criticism. I think that’s great and I hope the students will have as much impact as possible.”