By George Cook
That’s it, the Cardiff Students’ Union election week has come to an end and the posts for the 2018/19 roles have now been filled. This is the first time in ten years that all sabbatical and officer roles have been filled in one election, meaning this election cycle did have some positive outcomes. Despite this, it was the lowest turnout in an SU election in 3 years. Last year, 6, 851 people voted in the elections with 6,555 and 6,231 votes being cast in the previous two elections. This year only 6,205 votes were cast in the election. In this week’s Campus Life section, you can also read people’s opinions towards elections which does show some views that coincide with the decrease in votes cast.
Fadhila Al Dhahouri was named the new President of the Students’ Union beating Nicholas Fox to the position. This means that for the last four years the President of the SU has been female. Other results included Jake Smith being re-elected for VP Postgraduate, despite also standing to be Deputy Chair of the NUS; Henri Page being elected to the newly named Societies and Volunteering role; Amr Al Wishah being elected as VP Welfare and Campaigns; Jackie Yip elected as VP Education; Georgie Haynes as VP Sport and AU President and Jen Kent elected as the new VP for Heath Park Campus.
The newly elected Officer roles included Martha Hughes as the newly elected Mature Students’ Officer; Julia Rooke as the International Students’ Officer; Joshua Lewis as the LGBT+ Officer; Hannah Ryan as the LGBT+ (Women’s) Officer; Hanin Abou Salem as the Women’s Officer; Dimitra Psychari as the Students’ with Disabilities Officer; Jacob Morris as the Welsh Language Officer; Orla Tarn as Mental Health Officer and Nia Jones as the Ethical and Environmental Officer.
They will start in their positions as the next academic year begins, and because there are no by-elections candidates will have even longer to implement their policies and ideas for the year ahead.
The newly elected, some re-elected, Sabbatical Officers will also earn a salary of around £20,000 while they are in office for a year. VP’s can then stand for re-election if they wish in their current roles or even run for the big job of Students’ Union President.
The mood at the start of the week was one of optimism and excitement whilst also apprehension as people got into campaign mode. After Candidate Question Time in the previous week, candidates were now fully prepared for the week of elections with their slogans and banners at the ready.
Gair Rhydd interviewed some of the candidates who were standing for election on Monday 19th February and it was evident that many posts would produce very close results. At the start of the election week, there was also some controversy as one candidate for the VP Sport and AU President role, Callum Hindle, posted in a men’s Rugby group on social media soliciting support and denigrating an opponent. Hindle wrote that “Addhyahan Gurung is also running for the position and would appreciate your votes too. One of us would be better to do the job than the female rowing President”.
This was done despite all candidates including Hindle having attended a compulsory meeting where this action was explicitly prohibited. In response to this incident the Students’ Union commented “We have been made aware of a Facebook message referencing candidates for the role of VP Sports and Athletic Union President. We are currently investigating and talking to the candidates involved before considering further action”. Hindle also replied with a remorseful, lengthy statement “I have spoken with the SU regarding this misunderstanding and am awaiting the contact number of Georgie so that I can clear things up”, continuing, “under no circumstances was my comment intended to discredit Georgie’s ability but was simply to highlight to my rugby members that voting for one of their own would benefit the club if either one of us were successful”.
This is an action that seems to show that Hindle was trying to affect the outcome of the election by getting all of his club or team to vote for him. In the end, it mattered little, as Georgie came out on top for the position of VP Sport and AU President.
Despite this, it was an election week that was full of some great costumes and campaign slogans as candidates hoped to be successful in their campaigns. Cathays became decorated in banners and posters that were trying to grab our attention to vote for each candidate, as well as the candidates themselves running around university buildings. After all this buzz and energy, the results were announced at 2pm on Saturday afternoon and after a long week of campaigning, I am sure that all candidates will be glad that it is over.
Gair Rhydd would like to thank all candidates for their decision to run in elections to represent the views of students, and also to congratulate the successful students who have been elected to the Sabbatical Officer and part-time officer roles for the 2018/19 academic year.
In the next issue, we will be interviewing the newly elected Sabbatical Officers so stay tuned to find out more about who will be representing you next year.