Lorna Miri reports on the results of the Autumn Elections 2015.
Surprisingly for many, the UCLU Autumn Elections closed at 10am on Friday 23rd October. What should have marked a rather important event of the first term was barely registered by most of the student body.
Voting commenced on Monday the 19th October, and there were twenty positions to fill: Student Trustee, Union Chair, NUS Conference Delegate and individual Hall Representatives. However, many students were unsatisfied with the final results, feeling that this was not the true voice of the students. Many felt the elections received minimal promotion, both around UCL and on official UCLU websites. Their main concerns were that the Union failed to meet basic democratic expectations. This was bolstered by the fact that the cancelled “Meet the Candidates” event, an opportunity for candidates to receive questions from students, was never rescheduled.
During the week of voting, the UCLU Facebook feed has only mentioned the elections twice – managing to neglect the position of Union Chair in a post dedicated to explaining each position available.
Even where students have known about elections, they have been unable to participate until the very last minute. Students living in John Dodgson House were only able to vote on Wednesday the 21st, just two days before voting closed, due to ambiguous technical problems.
Chris Gallacher, a Hall Representative candidate for John Dodgson, said, “…as the elections were so poorly advertised, I have no competitors.”
The severe lack of promotion has incensed students who were involved in previous UCLU Autumn elections; a number of whom have now penned an open letter to UCL express their disappointment. They demand that nominations for Halls Representatives be extended to the StAR voting deadline, the 2nd of November. However, it is difficult to know whether these changes will be made, after the Union has failed to address, or even recognise, the current dilemma.
Twitter accounts and UCLU blogs for both the Education and Campaigns Officer and the Sustainability, Engagement & Operations Officer, did not acknowledge the elections until Friday evening.
Pi News has contacted a UCLU representative and the aforementioned Sabbatical Officers, but received no response.
David Dahlborn, an ex-Hall Representative for Langton Close (2013/2014) aptly summarised the situation: “…autumn elections at UCLU have never been great, but they have never been this bad.”
The results of the elections were released later than expected, and are difficult to find. Sohail Badat is the new Union Chair. Only one halls of residence representative has been elected – Chris Gallacher for John Dogdon house – and numerous other students have been elected as either an NUS delegate or a student trustee position.