To vote or not to vote? That is the question that will face all students in the coming year, as colleges around the country run their students union elections, Seán Duffy.

For many, student union elections are something of an irrelevance, noted only for the occasional witty campaign poster or outlandish campaign promise. For others, the Student Union elections represent a key juncture in the third level experience, an opportunity to have a say in the way the college or university is run.

Traditionally, Students Union elections have a surprisingly low turnout. Whether it is a lack of interest in the process, a lack of understanding of what can be accomplished or a greater interest partying than voting, third level students in Ireland seem to have disengaged somewhat from the political process in their colleges. This may be related to a disenfranchisement which may be attributable to the wider political conditions in the country in the past number of years.    Nonetheless, the Students Union actually represents an increasingly important voice in third level life. With services being cut across the board, the SU can find out what is most worrying students and attempt to liaise with your college in order to find a solution. The USI will be an important factor in debating any proposed introduction of fees, and in organising subsequent protests should those fees be introduced. Similarly,college and university resources are extremely stretched in the current environment and your SU can be a valuable tool in ensuring the most valuable services to students are kept on board.   President of the DCUSU Paul Doherty spoke to campus and told us why he tries to get the vote out.   "I think there may be a lack of understanding among students as to the amount we can actually do.We have a major voice within the college and can secure commitments from the college in everything from social life to health.The turnout in elections does tend to be very low, but we try to re-affirm the importance of the student voice.We really can make a difference.If people get involved they can see that".   Whatever the year ahead holds for students,it is likely that at some juncture issues will arise that need resolution. The best way to ensure that these issues get resolved to satisfaction is through the representation of the Students Union. Perhaps people feel they will have better ways to spend their time, but students should remember that involvement in student politics affords a rare opportunity to affect tangible change. So go on. Get out and vote!   Some do´s and don´ts come election time:   Do: 1. Give the candidates a chance.You may not like some of them or even find them irritating, but nonetheless there is likely to be someone running you can identify with. 2. Have a clear idea of what you want from your SU rep.Are the likely to represent what YOU want? 3. Communicate openly and frankly.If you don´t ask you most likely won´t receive   Don't: 1. Vote for the hottest candidate 2. Vote for the guy who promises to secure the best drink promotions from the college bar 3. Elect the candidate likely to turn into the college Vladimir Putin