New Students’ Union Officer Team Elected
The new Students’ Union officer team has been elected, with the lowest voter turnout since 2012.
Only 3601 students voted, compared with the 4725 votes cast in 2015’s election.
A bustling Mandela Hall played host to the results, with returning officer Georgia Psarrou revealing the winners in quick succession.
All six of the newly elected full-time officers are female and, for the first time, two of the part-time officers are non-binary.
Annie Pickering is the new President, elected with a majority of 227 votes.
President-elect Annie Pickering said divestment from fossil fuels is her first priority. However, it may happen before Pickering takes office in September: the University’s Finance and Investment Committee met to discuss the option today (4th March).
Pickering said the people who voted for her were most excited about her ideas to build a waterslide on result’s day and to bring the Big Lemon onto campus. She said people were also excited by her colourful jumpers.
When asked about allegations she had broken Union election rules by pressuring voters to “pick Pickering” there and then on her iPad, she said: “It’s not true. I don’t even have an iPad! I love the Union and I follow the rules.”
Pickering attributed her success to “being out there every second”, having a “half-decent manifesto” and engaging with international and postgraduate students.
Current President of the Students’ Union Abe Baldry said: “I think Annie will take the Union in a slightly different direction. I am excited to see what she does in the role.”
Second-place Presidential candidate Max O’Donnell-Savage said: “You see far more change outside of Students’ Unions than from within them, and it is often change from outside which causes SU’s to play a progressive political role.”
O’Donnell-Savage, who has been involved in on-campus anti-privatisation and Free Education campaigns, continued: “I am probably more skilled at opposing management than working with them, anyway.” He joked: “I do need a job though!”
Annie Pickering, right, celebrating with friends.
Adele Duvilier was elected the new Activities Officer, with a narrow margin of 26.
Rose Taylor was returned as Postgraduate Education Officer, with a majority of 596.
Taylor said that there was “no one thing” that wins a campaign, but she in part attributed it to undergraduates “realizing how important [the role] is and how it affects them”.
Grainne Gahan won her race for Welfare Officer – elected on a majority of 212. She said: “The first thing I want to do is get the counselling service sorted out, so we can shorten waiting lists.”
Sarah Gibbons, who was re-elected as the Societies and Citizenship officer with a majority of 212, said, “this is the first time in 20 years that it’s been an all-women team and the first time there have been two non-binary part-time officers.”
“It really shows that Sussex is living up to its liberal, progressive roots.”
Savanna Sevenzo added: “I’m really excited to work with the team. Girl power!”
Sevenzo, who won the position of Undergraduate Education Officer with a majority of 332, based her manifesto around “decolonising the curriculum”.
She also pledged to “ensure a louder student voice.” Her manifesto explains: “Democracy in all decisions that affect students such as assessment methods and library policies; a fair reasonable adjustments system; a platform for course comments to be available throughout the term; and more union consultation with academics and student reps.”
She was visibly happy, and emerged from a group of encouraging friends to speak with The Badger. She said: “I’m quite shocked but really happy and excited to enact my plans.”
However, there are still few Black and Minority Ethnic students elected. Asked for her feelings on this, Savanna said: “this year was better than last in terms of diversity. Latisha stood for president this year.
“The idea of me standing was to contest that idea, and I was inspired by other people of colour, and also by all of the officers at the moment.
“I would encourage more people of colour to run but I am optimistic about the trend.”
The Women Students Officer is Frida Gustafsson.
The Ethnic Minority Students Officer is Nishad Sharma.
President Abe Baldry said he was “disappointed that the number of students voting [had] fallen following a period of growth in voter numbers”.
He went on: “We’ll be thoroughly reviewing the elections to see what we can do to increase participation in future elections. If you have any feedback you can send this to firstname.lastname@example.org“
Miriam Steiner, Freya Marshall Payne, Harry Howard and Mark Tovey