An intense week of election campaigns has culminated in the election of a new team of full-time Students’ Union (SU) sabbatical officers for the next academic year.
Snowy scenes on campus did not deter campaign teams from working tirelessly since the morning of 6 February to attract students to get their voice heard and vote in the annual elections.
After keeping the nervous crowds and campaign teams in East Slope Bar waiting, Ariel Cohen, current SU Communications Officer and returning officer for the election, announced the results.
Five new officers were appointed, as well as the re-election of Indi Hicks, as Welfare Officer, for a second year.
Indi was however elected with a diminished majority, down from over 500 votes in 2011 to a majority of 84 votes over the second place candidate, Mikey Matania.
A student attending the event at East Slope Bar said: “I’m a bit disappointed as some of the people I voted for didn’t get their position, but I’m sure they’ll make great officers. It’s a surprise that Indi got it the second time around, but hopefully she will be able to help the newcomers and give them advice.”
Former Chair of University Radio Falmer (URF), Kit Bradshaw, was elected into the position of Communications Officer with a landslide victory, being selected with a majority of 562 votes over his rival Kieran Burn.
The announcement was met with mass cheering from his supporters and campaign team, along with some booing and jeering from others.
After learning of his victory, Kit commented: “This has been one of my best weeks at Sussex. If I put as much work into my dissertation and my university work as I’ve put into the last few weeks I hope I’d get a first! This is really for my team. I’ve had 15 amazing people who have given up their time and don’t get a job out of this.
“I’d like to say a massive thank you to them, and I’d also like to say a big thank you to Sussex for putting your faith in me. I will try my absolute best to fulfill my manifesto commitments and to represent students in the best way I possibly can.”
In a closely contested race, Kelly McBride was elected President of the Students’ Union for the academic year 2012-13.
The election of the SU President had the highest number of votes, with 2803 ballots filled out, and was won by a majority of only 85 votes.
Following the results, Kelly said: “It’s been a very surreal experience. Obviously I’m really happy and really excited to be able to do the things that I’ve wanted to do and improve things for students.
“Since I’ve been at Sussex there are so many things I have wanted to actually put in practice, and it’s exciting that I might actually have the opportunity to do that.
“There have been some really strong candidates in this election, each with so many merits. If all of these people were in the union next year it would be such an amazing place.
“It’s sad that we have to pick just a few. The union next year will be interesting; it’s going to be very representative, and very I’m excited.
Maria da Silva was elected as the new Education Officer for the SU, on a manifesto of defending education and increasing inclusivity.
The position of activities officer was won by Richard Mashiter in the closest-run race of the elections. Richard won by 45 votes, in a field of strong candidates, many with lots of sports and societies experience.
Carl Salton-Cox became the new Operations Officer, winning by almost 300 votes, building on his experience working in Falmer Bar and other involvement in the SU.
Although speechless immediately after hearing the result, Carl said: “I’ve had a fantastic campaign team around me. Beforehand I said it doesn’t matter if I don’t win because I’ve so many good friends out of it. I didn’t win, they did.”
The overall turnout was up from last year, rising from 2638 votes cast in 2011 to 3511 votes in this election.
This huge increase in participation is an indicator that students on campus are engaged, despite the re-arranged Members’ Meeting this week only having 51 attendees.
The meeting, held at 2pm on 9 February in Mandela Hall was re-arranged after Students’ Decide on 19 January did not reach quorum, with less than 100 students attending.
It was hoped that holding the new meeting during election week would engage more students, whilst they were surrounded by election material and tuned into campus politics.
The very low turnout meant that no changes could be approved, this requiring 450 students, almost seven- times the actual attendance at the meeting.
Catarina Carvalho, one of the candidates for the position of Operations Officer, spoke in favour of deferring all proposals to Council saying that: “All issues will be re-discussed at Council. Council is open to all, so why discuss things twice but make decisions once?”
It was decided by popular vote that the proposals on the agenda should not be discussed at this stage, and instead should be deferred to Council.
Motions on the agenda, including the issue of the Israeli goods boycott and the closure of the Centre for
Community Engagement at the University of Sussex will now be discussed at the Council meeting on Friday 17 February, in Arts A5.
The meeting is open to all students, and there will be discussion, debate and decisions made on all of the issues. Ariel Cohen, Communications Officer, suggested that after discussion at Council some issues may spark a campus-wide referendum, in order for all students to be able to have their say on specific proposals.
All of the winners announced tonight will take over from the current officers in July, receiving extensive training before being able to get to work implementing their proposals and running the SU.
Any objections to the results of these elections must be submitted in writing to the Returning Officer by 5pm on Tuesday 14 February, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.