Rebecca Pinnington answers the question on nobody’s lips
It’s the time of year we all look forward to – when ugly painted bedsheets adorn the portico and south quad, and ugly brightly coloured leaflets and manifestos litter every stairwell and every table of the Print Room as candidates beg you to hire them. Sorry, I mean vote for them. We’ve all been confused by UCLU marketing.
Each year union elections spark fresh controversies, from whether candidates should canvas using iPads, to actual electoral fraud, to candidates being upset about the corners of other candidates’ posters slightly overlapping theirs.
This year’s first controversy concerned UCLU’s marketing of the elections, in which they described the positions as, “The grad job like no other”. Many students, as well as some sabbatical officers, felt that elected union positions should be more than just a chance to boost a CV; particularly as some positions are explicitly political, those who run ought to be more concerned with making a difference to their university than with their employability.
Perhaps also controversially, there are surprisingly few candidates for sabbatical roles this year. In 2012, there were 11 candidates for 6 positions, with only one position elected unopposed; in 2013, there were 31 candidates for 10 positions, two of whom withdrew (one being Kirk Sneade for Women’s Officer, who was a man and whose manifesto suggested rounding up all pretty girls and taking them to Roxy); in 2014 there were 22 candidates for 10 positions with two elected unopposed, three once a candidate for Medical and Pharmaceutical Students’ Officer withdrew; and in 2015 there were 20 candidates for 7 positions, none of which were unopposed until Helen Chandler-Wilde was withdrawn from the Women’s Officer election due to being on interruption of study. This year there are 15 candidates for the 7 positions on offer. Three of the elections are contested only by RON.
It will also be interesting to see how students engage with the elections, and how many students take the time to vote. The highest turnout UCLU has ever seen was in 2014, with 20.6% and 6239 individual voters. Last year the elections saw 16.7% turnout and 6315 individual voters. The addition of the Institute of Education to UCL, a school so politically disengaged it failed to nominate a single candidate for its part time Union officer, brings with it an extra 8000 students whom candidates and Union staff will have to try and engage if they wish to meet previous years’ turnout.
PiTV will be interviewing every candidate for sabbatical positions in the coming weeks, and these videos will be available on our website. We’ll also be covering all other aspects of the elections extensively – so stay tuned.
And finally, here’s the full list of candidates for each position.
Activities and Events Officer
Black & Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer
Education & Campaigns Officer
Postgraduate Students’ Officer
Sustainability, Engagement & Operations Officer
Welfare & International Officer
Raquel Nunes Palmeira