The votes had been cast. The count had begun. Throughout the college speculation was high. Paul Robinson had spent his precious two weeks of canvassing; promising better student representation on the college finance committee. A subject that his parents, who were both accountants, had spent hours coaching him on. Better investment, greater attention to interest rates and cautious spending on essential capital equipment, was the way forward.
Carefully constructed polls and interviews over the last few days had seen more than a sixty percent endorsement of his policies and his position as the new student union president seemed assured. So much so that his small, but exceedingly vocal team of young advisers had already set up the celebration drinks in the student union common room.
Of course, the polls were taken from those students that had shown a positive interest in voting and who had taken the time to visit Paul’s campaign desk in the main entrance lobby of the college. A place carefully selected by his associates as being the most frequented part of the college and, therefore, the most likely place to catch a cross section of students. Logical really. Spreadsheets had been analysed and positive predictions made.
So overwhelming was Paul’s campaign that all except Celia Goodfellow had dropped out of the contest and her efforts to win the hearts and minds of her fellow students had consisted of one single leaflet, circulated in the union bar and used primarily as an ad-hoc beer mat.
Paul and all of his closest allies had dismissed it, unread, and were more than confident that Celia would probably concede before the final vote had been counted. The words being bantered about were that it was, ‘a done deal’, and those smaller, non-elected, student council positions were already being awarded by Paul, to his inner circle.
Celia, on the other hand, expressed her total contempt for all things to do with the establishment by conducting her somewhat unorthodox campaigning in the bar. Common sense and self-discipline in all things that the finance committee held so dear, was as far from her thought process as climbing Mount Everest. Not that she was without common sense.
In fact, according to her closest friends, and there were many, she had a razor-sharp logic. It was just that it was honed in a different direction to nearly everyone else. Celia’s heart and soul were focused on just three things. Getting through her course with the least amount of work, having the most enjoyable time of her life, and doing all this without going bust in the process, although to most, the latter seemed to be a pre-requisite of the former.
That was not to say that she was financially irresponsible. It was just that money held a different meaning to her. It was much more than the mere acquisition of wealth, a goal held in such esteem by her parents.
Voting started at 9am and the ballet boxes closed at 4 pm, just before the student union bar opened, at which time everyone knew there would be a completely different set of goals in play.
All of the boxes were taken into the inner sanctuary of the chancellor’s office and the count was being undertaken by a carefully selected group of trusted colleagues. This was a serious business that demanded honesty and transparency.
Paul and his immediate supporters hovered in the adjacent offices while Celia languished almost absentmindedly in the student common room waiting, with her friends, for the bar to open. She was also trying to avoid having anything to do with a very small, but very irritating group of Robinson supporters, poised ready to demolish the expected winners feast that was laid out at the far end of the room.
As the evening drew on, her thoughts about the election dwindled, and the usual Friday night noise level in the union bar rose to painful levels. Every subject on earth, and some beyond, were being excitedly debated.
In the outer chambers of the Chancellors office Paul was looking at the results of the contest with disbelief. The count had been announced and the results hastily written on the back of a scrap of paper.
Paul Robinson – 22%
Celia Goodfellow -78%
How was this possible? Paul looked down at the scrap of paper again and noticed that it was one of Celia’s casual flyers.
He turned it over and read her one and only promise.
My promise to all who vote for me:
Every Friday Night – In the student Union bar – Free Beer
I apologise in advance to all hardworking students who I am sure are not represented by this little bit of fun. Of course the moral of the story is that in order to win a ballot contest you need votes and to get these you must understand the real issues that affect real people and this is not always a question of simple logic or common sense.