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Week Eight will see the elections of the LUSU Part Time Officers, college JCR Exec officers, and the by-election for the remaining unfilled positions on the GSA Exec.
Coinciding with these elections will be the introduction of the new roles on LUSU that came in as part of the Non-Sabb review in Week Five, as well as the new system of e-voting, something never before attempted at the university.
The hustings for the LUSU Part Time Officer elections took place on Thursday of Week Seven. The evening passed by without much controversy, however, there was some confusion about the people contesting some positions, when some candidates failed to turn up and to make their hust.
Only one of the candidates for Post Graduate Research Representative, Mike Jenkins, came to hustings, leaving it unclear to many as to whether the other candidate, Vasileios Pappas, would still be running for the position.
As well as this, only one of the candidates for Student Trustee, Tom Skarbek-Wazynski, JCR President for Bowland, made a hust. The other candidate listed at the time of hustings, Sahib Singh, did not attend.
More surprisingly still, neither of the two candidates who had been nominated for Science and Technology Faculty Representative came to the hustings. Kaushik Ghosh and Robyn Akerman failed to attend and make a hust explaining their intentions for if they were elected, something which may affect the way votes are cast on Thursday.
The individual husts made by the candidates who did attend didn’t cause much contention, but some candidates were left answering difficult and somewhat unexpected questions, when the floor was opened up to the observers.
The more controversial questions seemed to relate to the recent changes that came to Union Council during Week Five’s non-sabbatical review.
The failure to increase the number of societies representatives on Council through an amendment led to many people questioning the decision to replace the officers without portfolio on the Block of Six, with one position, that of the Student Campaigns Officer, when this is considered by many to be an unnecessary role.
The candidates of this position did come under some scrutiny when the audience were allowed to ask questions after the husts. Edwin Burrows, the current Societies Union Chair, quoted the editorial from the last issue of SCAN, by asking the candidates Terrie Crawford and Sam Aldridge what they felt to the opinion that their roles were considered by some to be “dangerous and should be rendered obsolete.”
A question asked by LUSU President Michael Payne, then proposed a hypothetical situation, where Union Council may have to make the choice between having an extra societies representative in the place of the Student Campaigns Officer.
Both candidates said that they would feel that their position would be of more importance, as societies already had the representation of one person on Union Council, whereas their position would cover a remit that would otherwise not be represented – those campaigns that were not directly related to Academic, Liberation, Equality or Welfare issues, which are represented by the other campaigns officers – whilst also being able to give support to the other campaigns performed by LUSU.
Other unexpected questions were put to the candidate for Student Media Board Chair, Katie Jamieson. Wanting a more detailed understanding of her views on censorship in student media, Burrows asked another question.
The form of the hypothetical situation seemed to be a trend of the evening, with Burrows offering up a scenario to see how Jamieson would deal with a conflict of interest between the VP (Media & Communications) and a member of one of the other media: LUTube.TV, SCAN and Bailrigg FM.
Jamieson responded by pointing out that decision making would not be part of her job should she be elected, she would merely be in a position of making sure meetings did not go too off-track or get too heated, whilst also being able to advise the other people who sit on the board.
The crowd that attended hustings was smaller than may have been anticipated for university-wide elections, but this is something that has come to be expected from the part time officer elections for LUSU, which never seem to attract as much attention as the Sabbatical positions. Not quite filling the Cavendish Lecture Theatre at the beginning of the event, the crowd of people there seemed to thin out as the night went on.
Initial fears that the introduction of e-voting may reduce the awareness and turnout of elections at college JCR level have been disproved by the amount of people that have been nominated for positions in many of the undergraduate colleges.
Lonsdale College has 48 people standing in the elections, the most candidates for any JCR Exec out of all the colleges. The college with the second largest amount of candidates is Cartmel, with 36.
However, some colleges do have less people standing for positions than may have been preferred, leaving many candidates running for positions unopposed by anything but Re-Open Nominations. Pendle has only 22 people standing for election, and County, one of the largest colleges, has only 23 people standing for positions this year.
Though there have been fears within some colleges that the introduction of e-voting in the place of the system of voting in porters lodges would reduce turnout to the elections, there have been ideas to combat this.
All colleges will have a laptop in their porters lodge during certain hours of the 24-hour period for which voting is open, so that people may still be able to vote whilst on campus. As well as this, all colleges have been asked to put on an event on the Thursday evening to make people aware that voting is going on, and to publicise the new e-voting system. Most colleges are expected to have a laptop in their porters’ lodge for the duration of these events, and some colleges will be having election themed events.
Furness College will host “Uncle Sam visits Trevor” in the college bar, an event that will include free hotdogs, American music, and candidates giving 30-second mini-husts to encourage people to keep voting. Fylde’s event, Race for Elections, will be a race night, where people will be able to collect tokens to place bets on races. Lonsdale will be hosting Lonnie Idol, and Pendle will be having live music. Cartmel, though not having a specifically voting-related event, will be hosting the final Comedy Night of the Michaelmas Term.
In Week Four, the Graduate Students’ Association held elections to fill its Exec after the changes to the constitution of Week One of this term. Despite an unprecedented amount of publicity for these elections, they did not manage to fill all the positions. At this point, three of the positions – President, VP (Sports) and VP (Postgrad Research) – were all uncontested, and so in Week Eight, the GSA will hold a by-election to fill these positions. Each of these positions has just one candidate running for them.
The Post Graduate Research role also sits on Union Council, and so the hustings for this position took place at the same time as hustings for other Part Time Union Officer positions, in Week Seven.
GSA has held two “Meet Your Candidates” events in Week Seven – one for on-campus students in Gradbar, and one for off-campus students. GSA has also set aside two computers for the e-voting on campus and will hold an event on the Thursday evening, like other colleges, to keep people voting.