Officer candidates throw hats into the ring

Election nominations closed last Friday, and the provisional lists are available for who is running for next year’s officer positions at the Students’ Union.

A total of seven full-time paid Sabbatical Officer positions and 22 part-time positions are available for next year.

The SU has published a democracy timeline detailing the election process from nominations to results, which can be found online.

Next year there will be some slight changes in the roles of Sabbatical Officers. The Democracy and Communications position will become simply Democracy, and the role of communication will extend to all seven of the Sabbatical Officers. In addition, the role of Finance Officer will be renamed Union Development Officer and this position will oversee entertainment, food and beverages, and student feedback.

Campaigning and publicity will begin on Monday 7 February (Week 5) at 9am and will be followed by hustings (a physical platform from which the candidates will present their manifestos) in the Atrium on Monday and Tuesday that week.

The week is expected to be action-packed, reflecting last year’s campaign. The current President of the SU Daniel Stevens went 72 hours without sleeping last year, holding open doors to the Arts Centre throughout the elections week.

“I basically didn’t stop. I talked to as many students as possible and generally tried to be available. I’m looking forward to helping [the new President] in any way I can. They have the potential to have a lot of influence. If they are committed, they can achieve change.”

The week will feature countless leaflet distributions, lecture shouts and kitchen visits for the candidates to persuade students at Warwick to vote for them to become a part of the Students’ Union team.

The polls will open on Wednesday 9 February at 9am and will remain open until Friday 11 February at 9pm. The count will take place at 5pm on Saturday 12 February, after which the results will be made public.

Nominations for full-time officers have increased from last year and it is speculated that this is as a result of the current economic climate. Tom Ridley, the Chair of the Elections Group, commented that while overall nominations were “slightly down on previous years, it depends on the actual position.

“We’ve got 24 Sabb [nominations] and 23 part time candidates, particularly this year the thing that’s been lacking is campaigns officers – no one standing for ethnic [minorities] or disabilities. There are four campaigns [positions] that don’t have candidates.

It is also hoped that the election turnout, which totalled 22.5 percent of students last year, will increase. Ridley commented: “I am very optimistic… The Elections Group hope to do better than last year in terms of turnout.

“We’re hoping to increase on it. Whether we will manage it, we will see. We have a higher number of Presidential candidates this year which may mean there will be a lot more advertising on the campaign, which will work to our advantage in turn of awareness that the election is going on.”

Stevens supports this view: “I hope the turnout increases. Next year the SU’s going to be so fundamental with the changes in the higher education sector on both a national and local scale.”

Students will vote on the Union website using the STV (single transferable vote) system in which students are asked to rank candidates in order of preference. The candidate with the lowest number of first preference votes is eliminated and their votes are redistributed to the second preferences. This process is repeated until one candidate has a majority.

This term, the SU welfare team is pushing minority groups such as LGBTUA+, religious groups and students with disabilities to get involved in Union democracy next year.

Ridley argues that it is not simply that these minorities are not engaged in the Union. “We did have potential candidates come in and discuss it, but there were logistical reasons about why it wasn’t going to work. There’s going to be have to be a different process regarding that.”

If nobody stands for these positions, they will be co-opted at the next Union Council meeting.

It has also been a concern that there has been a lack of female participation in Union democracy, as seen in the seven male Sabbatical Officers this year. Ridley agrees that this is major issue and “has been for the past couple of years.

“It has been noted that has been a tendency towards male candidates… it’s something we are trying to address. It’s very difficult to do… we can’t force people to stand, [but] we’re trying to encourage participation of both genders.”

George Whitworth, the Sports Officer commented: “It may be a self perpetuating problem as we have seven male Sabbatical Officers at the moment meaning females may not want to run.”


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