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The Graduate Students’ Association has been left in disarray following its Week Four elections after they failed to find any candidates to stand in two of its most important positions.
Without a GSA President or VP Post Graduate Research (PGR) Representative, postgraduate students will find themselves dangerously under-represented on academic issues and within the Students’ Union itself.
With only eight of the original eleven candidates left in the race by the day of the elections, Vice President Finance was the only contested position and Abhinav Sharma narrowly beat Mike Jenkins to the role. All other candidates standing in the election unopposed were duly elected.
As well as the President and VP PGR Rep, no one stood for the position of VP Sports and Activities. It is planned that the positions will be either co-opted or filled at a bye-election, to be held alongside JCR elections in Week Eight.
“[President] will always be a highly demanding and time consuming role even when all the other nine executive members are functioning to full capacity. Potential candidates who’ve been fully informed of the role have decided to put their postgraduate studies first,” said Ellie Fitton, outgoing acting GSA President and previous PGR Representative.
She added that with its much larger constituency of 3,500 students “the GSA can’t and shouldn’t be seen as a JCR. Not to denigrate the fantastic work of the JCR officers but the GSA has very different responsibilities and the commitment is far greater.”
In response to the failure to elect a GSA President, one student who wished to remain anonymous remarked that they were surprised at how the fortunes of the GSA had changed. “If the GSA is so overworked then why does it not campaign for a Postgraduate Sabbatical Officer again? The reason why grads don’t stand for the GSA is that they see the GSA as JCR politics for postgraduates and grads want something more grown up.”
A few years ago the GSA successfully passed a motion for a postgraduate sabbatical officer at a Union General Meeting. However it was later invalidated by a change to the LUSU Constitution.
With the GSA elections being potentially the Union’s final paper ballot election before it turns to e-voting many have stated that this will greatly help the turnout of voters. With just over a hundred postgraduates voting out of the potential 3500 turnout was disappointing this time round.