Just two weeks into their new term of office, six college JCRs across campus are having to hold by-elections for various officers.
The voting for college by-elections will open at 2pm on Thursday Week Four and close at 2pm the next day, meaning the simultaneous collegiate elections will coincide neatly with the LUSU elections for new NUS delegates. The relative proximity of the voting does mean that the colleges looking to fill JCR positions have already opened nominations; nominations will close in Week Three, between Tuesday and Thursday depending upon the college.
The fact that six colleges out of nine are calling by-elections can be defined by two causes. Regretfully, some officers have had to resign for personal reasons, admittedly ill-fated given the number of students who have been so affected this year. The more pressing issue appears to be that many roles were simply not run for by any students last term, leaving them unfilled and forcing the college and the other officers of the relevant JCRs to facilitate the vacancies as best they could, co-opting people into maintaining the positions until a by-election could be called.
With a campus-wide drive for elections to be publicised this term, the hope is that students will get more involved. Robin Hughes, President and Acting-Chair for Grad College, said “I’m hopeful that many people will think that this is something they might be interested in, and nominate themselves”.
Nominations and interest are certainly being driven hard this term. Not only are the colleges displaying their regular sign up lists for people to nominate themselves or other potential officers in the traditional way, but technology is also playing a large role.
LUSU Democracy have set up an online e-nomination scheme as a pilot venture for students to be further informed of the by-elections, and JCRs are taking it upon themselves to promote the events through Facebook groups. The intention is to generate interest to fill all the positions and get everyone possible involved. The colleges and positions being voted on in Week Four are as follows: in County College the positions of Webmaster and Magazine Editor for ‘Pendragon’ are open, given that they were unfilled because of a lack of nominees running for them. Until now, the two positions have been co-opted to maintain them until the by-election. Bowland College are looking for people to run for the position of Treasurer after a resignation for personal reasons.
Furness College needs to fill three positions, taking nominations for a Male Education and Welfare officer as well as two Social Secretaries who have to run as a pair. These officer positions remained unfilled after the Week Eight elections; although as a college Furness has since co-opted people into the positions to maintain a certain order.
Pendle need students to run for the role of President of the JCR, after personal reasons saw the nominee elected in Week Eight step down. In Cartmel, the Female Sports Secretary became the most recent position to be opened, with the resignation of the previous position holder for personal reasons on Monday Week Two. The nominations were swiftly opened and they voting will run to coincide with the other colleges.
Graduate College were also affected by a lack of nominees in last term’s elections, leaving the positions of Part Time Post-Graduate Taught Representative and Vice-President for Sports and Activities open. The position of Vice President for Democracy, Diversity and Inclusion, which reflects the roles of Chair and welfare officers from a JCR model, is also open for nominations after a resignation for personal reasons.
The resignations, while all understandable and justified, have not been easy to facilitate for the fledgling JCRs, just a fortnight into their terms of office. Carly Schult, the new Pendle Chair, commented that “the person now standing to run for elections will have no point of call from our president this year”. The changeover period in that occurs in the first term of the year after Week Eight elections has been missed out on by anyone stepping into a position in the upcoming by-elections. Perhaps more importantly, Schult stated: “the training received in Winter Officer Conference week was vital and it would have been helpful if the President attended”.
The emphasis, despite these minor difficulties, is to get as many people to run and vote as possible in the coming weeks.