This is a terrific story. Sarah Wakefield has been elected University of Manchester’s General Secretary for 2010-2011. Sarah has also recorded the highest majority since records started in 1967.
How did she do that?
First and foremost, Sarah is an engaging, intelligent, and bubbly member of the Manchester student community. She works incredibly hard, maintaining a list of activities that would put most high-earning executives to shame. Her policies were also clear, well articulated, and perhaps most distinctly, they were progressive. Sarah’s manifesto makes a call to arms to protect the quality of education, for online votes to be made during general meetings, and for greater transparency by placing administrative processes online, not to mention a commitment to spending at least two hours a week outside of the union engaging with students.
What else did she do?
She has also achieved what every political hopeful is trying to do around the world. She has captured the magic that illuminated Obama’s campaign through the medium of online video, blogs and social networks. In the 14 days running up to the student election Sarah posted a short online video to her blog sarahwakefield.com – 14 in all. This collection of short videos walks us through her manifesto pledges critically placing the message in the environmental context that it was made – the union, oxford road, and even the pub. Her voice is real, her message is heart-felt. One by one the students of Manchester get to know Sarah and trust her message. If not, they can write to her and express their opinion.
Sarah’s blog outlines her policies, activities and testimonials, all giving a real-sense of Sarah Wakefield and what a voter might expect from her, and also what she asks of the voter. Social networking tools are at play also – twitter and facebook. Sarah is connected to over 800 friends, and regularly posted events and meetups online. According to her testimonial “Sarah Wakefield has persuaded some of the most cynical people to walk through its doors of its importance”.
Students voted online.
This was a well-executed campaign. Technology was part of the story, but only part. In the end, a talented individual won the trust of her peers and for that we offer our congratulations. I certainly wish Sarah all the best during her time as General Secretary 2010-2011.
I hope to hold an informal interview with Sarah when I return to Manchester. As the world rethinks the nature of politics and democracy in the 21st Century, Sarah’s story holds an important line in history.
If Sarah is reading this, I hope you agree.