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Increased Turnout in Students’ Union Elections

Students have elected their new representatives. Recent Students’ Union elections saw an increased turnout and a record number of international student candidates. Recent Students’ Union elections allowed students to choose their new Student Representatives aka Student ‘Reps’. Polls closed on Thursday 5th October and turnout has been reported at 1404 votes as compared to 1324 votes in 2016, an increase of 80 votes.

Student representatives act as messengers between students and their respective schools. ‘Reps’ also attend departmental, academic and university meetings, acting as a voice for students.

The volunteers represent a variety of groups from Sussex including international students, First Generation scholars, student parents, mature students and part-time students.

The Students’ Union President, Frida Gustafsson, stresses the importance of student reps, saying they have a real impact on decisions made about “everything between timetabling and cost of course books to the overall student experience at Sussex”. 

Ms Gustafsson commented that: “We had 322 candidates stand for our 352 positions. Last year we had 353 candidates stand for 313 positions.  

“As you can see, the number of positions have increased quite a bit since last year while the number of candidates decreased … while some positions had more than one candidate standing, a few of the posts up for election was [sic] uncontested.”

This came amid student complaints about their lack of choice in representatives, some having no one at all to vote for. Ms. Gustafsson stressed that: “courses where the position of Student Rep were uncontested in the elections still need Student Reps,” and that “if anyone would like to take that on they should get in contact with their department about it.”

She attributed the deficit of candidates to the fact that elections take place close to the beginning of term. She said: “the election takes place very soon after the start of term which I think means that we inevitably end up not reaching every student … Not everyone has settled in yet, or had time to figure out in what ways they would like to get involved while at Sussex.” Despite this, there were 17 nominees for the First Generation Scholars representative and 15 for the role of International Students Representative which, according to Frida, is “a record in recent years”.

Some students experienced issues with online voting and weren’t able to log into the Union website to vote. Ms Gustafsson told The Badger that this only affected “ a small number of voters” and that the Union are working with IT to ensure the issue doesn’t occur in the March 2018 elections.

Students are elected using the Single Transferable Vote System. Rather than having just one vote, students can rank candidates in order of their preference. The system also ensures that candidates have to acquire 50% of the votes to be elected, rather than simply beating other candidates by as little as one vote.

If any candidate fails to get 50% from their first preference voters, the candidates with the least votes are struck from the running and their votes reallocated.

For the full list of your Student Representatives please visit the Union Website at: https://goo.gl/6kjomG.

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