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Will Hedley, former Furness President, was elected LUSU president with a nail-biting 18 vote victory over fellow candidate Justin Chow. Hedley will now help to steer the direction of the Union over the next year after fending off opposition for the role from Chow, Salman Rukhsar and Tom Routh.
Talking to SCAN following the announcement Hedley was speechless: “I’m gobsmacked … I don’t know if it’s relief or elation or anything. I think it’s a bit of both. It’s a weird feeling to realize that campaigning is over and it’s a weird feeling to realize that I have a job next year.”
Despite winning, the victory came as a surprise to Hedley. He said, “I had no idea. I knew it would be close, … I really hoped it would be close but eighteen votes out of two-and-a-half thousand is outrageous.”
Afterwards Hedley told SCAN that he felt any of the candidates would have made a good President and was extremely positive about the competition for the role. “It was amazing. It was a great competition. We all got on really well. I obviously got on really well with Justin because I was friends with him before. I’d never really met Tom before but we clicked and Salman I’d obviously worked with before anyway. We all got on as a group really really well. There was no animosity between anyone which was really nice.
“Anyone of the four candidates would have been a good president. I’m just over the moon to be able to say that it is me,” Heldey continued. He said that although he hoped he was the best candidate he didn’t see one specific reason why he came out on top. “I don’t think there was you could say that was specific. Eighteen votes isn’t a landslide, it’s not like I could sit here and say it’s because of this, because I did that.
“I like to think that I’m the best candidate, I hope that I’m the best candidate but I couldn’t say that it was one specific thing that got me eighteen extra votes.”
After a long and intense period of campaigning, what does Hedley plan on doing between now and when he starts the role? “Get a degree. As much as my parents wouldn’t like to hear this the degree has kind of been put on hold for the last two-and-a-half weeks … so I’m going to be living in the library for the next two weeks”.
Hedley believes that the most important thing when he starts the role will be ensuring that the new group of Full-Time Officers work well as a team for the student body. “I think day one is going to be about team-building between myself and all the other FTOs. I think the moment we can gel as a team, we can work on a really unilateral front.” Whilst working together with the other officers Hedley wants to make sure he doesn’t lose focus of the main policy areas he was voted in on, such as reinvesting the University’s large surplus.
“Firstly in terms of manifesto points it will have to be about lobbying the University for that £16 million to reinvest it in students. I know there is money coming into activities and sports. In terms of the counselling service, in terms of space to work, in terms of everyday cost of living. That’s the sort of thing we have to start from day one. We have to hit the ground running.”
It will only be year until Hedley’s replacement is elected, so what does he hope to have achieved by then? “A year from now I’d love to be able to sit in the room and say that student experience at Lancaster has gotten better. I’d love to be able to say that as Union we have achieved things that have made the financial [aspect] of university less of a burden, less stressful and I really hope to be able to see this room filled to the rafters with people engaged with the Union.”