The results are in for this year’s Students’ Union election, which saw 40 candidates running to be elected representatives of the student body at Sussex.
Of the total 19,025 students at Sussex, turnout for the elections saw 2,625 students cast their ballot for the Full-Time Officers, or 13.79% of the student body – a 21.55% overall decrease from last year.
This year continues Sussex’s failure to beat the turnout from 2015, which saw 4,725 students participate in elections, or 33.6% of the student population. This year the turnout was less than 14%, despite 5,000 more students enrolling at Sussex since 2015.
Falmer House Common Room saw over a hundred students present to hear the outcomes of the election.
An ecstatic and tearful Filip Vasilijevic was elected as President, with 992 votes cast in his name. When asked how he felt about being elected, he told The Badger “I’m so overwhelmed, and so happy!
“All of the candidates fought so hard, and I’m proud of every single one of them. Everyone has been so kind throughout this whole thing, and I think that’s one of the things we need to value at Sussex: Kindness.”
When asked what the first thing he would do as President would be, Filip said, “I know a lot of people won’t like it, but I really think we need to introduce mandatory consent classes,” in keeping with point 10 of his manifesto.
Becky Doran was the only full-time officer to be re-elected this year in her role as Activities Officer, attaining 1346 votes.
Her announcement was met with huge cheers and applause. Speaking to The Badger, Becky said she was ‘really excited’ with the result and is “pumped for another year”. Becky wasn’t quite sure what her first action as Activities Officer would be, telling The Badger: “I have no idea [laughs]! I don’t have anything to give you on that one!”.
“I’m excited for fresh faces and to see what we can change for the Union this year!”, Becky added.
All photo credits Alex Leissle
Newly elected Societies and Citizenship Officer, Ijlal, was surrounded by people asking him for selfies. Ijlal did not meet the quota of 919 to be elected but preference votes were reallocated to him under the Single Transferable Vote system used by the Union. Speaking to The Badger he said “I’m really happy. I feel that this is the time when the union needs to change and we’re here to uphold our student’s rights.
“We’re going to make sure that we’re not just here to listen to students but actually do something for the students and make policies that the students want.”
When asked what policy he would tackle first in the coming academic year, Ijlal said, “I think one of the first things I want to address is any sort of disenfranchisement that students feel.
“I want to address that and make sure we are here to represent the student body and that we are representative of students, and how we can bring those marginalised, disenfranchised groups back into the Union and make the Union a force for them.”
There was success for the Running Mates. Chris Harding and Benjamin Matthews campaigned successfully on a slate for the Undergraduate and Postgraduate roles respectively.
Newly elected Undergraduate Education Officer Chris Harding, elected with 1,275 votes, told The Badger “I feel really relieved, it was a really good competition this year. I think all the candidates are really supportive of each other and really came together as a team.
“It didn’t feel as much as if we were competing against each other but instead kind of running as a team and getting through it.”
Discussing the first actions he will take as Undergraduate Officer, Chris told The Badger “I want to start looking at my main pledge which was to see how we could get more out of students undergraduate degrees to make it more than just a qualification. So I will start to get the ball rolling on that.
“I want to see if I can work with the University to get more subsidies for extra-curricular language courses and improving the opportunities for undergraduates doing research.”
Postgraduate Officer Benjamin Matthews, who was elected with 1,242 votes, told The Badger: “I’m ecstatic, I’ve worked so hard for this role – even walking over 80km whilst campaigning!”. Being informed of the record low turnout for the election, Benjamin said his first priority was to specifically break down voter turnout and focus on boosting engagement among the postgraduate student community.
Newly elected Welfare Officer, Niina Halberg, appeared very excited, securing 676 votes in the election. She told The Badger she felt “I’m really really proud of everyone”.
When asked what her first main policy was she told us: “I think I’m really going to try for the student life centre because that’s the biggest thing that people are actually suffering with.”
Outgoing President Frida Gustafsson said of the night’s events: “All the candidates were brilliant but I’m so glad to see how diverse the officer team is this year.
“We’ve always had women which I’m very proud of but this year we’ve had four men which actually hasn’t happened for quite a few years and also we have three international students which for me as an international student means a lot.
“I’m hoping to see the number of votes go up, it was unfortunate to see that not that many people voted and we are going to over the next few weeks figure out why that was and try and figure out what we as a union can do to be more relevant to students, because we are, and I think with these officers are all running on amazing manifestos, great campaigns, brilliant people, are going to take us there, so I’m just really excited.”
Of the five part-time officer roles, the role of Ethnic Minority Students Officer went to Aditi Srivastava, first-year internationals relations student. The new
LGBTQ Students Officer, Shreya Murali, was the only student who ran for this role. She aims to raise awareness for sexual health, sexual assault, and domestic abuse within the LGBTQ+ community. Returning Trans and Non-Binary Students Officer, Blaike Lennon who ran unopposed, has pledged to continue their current work. Their previous work includes successfully making the campus name change process more accessible.
Women Student’s Officer, Sarah Osborne, was unable to be present at the announcements. Her manifesto focuses on three main platforms: mental health, sexual wellbeing, and equal opportunities.
Speaking to The Badger about the results, newly elected Students with Disabilities Officer Callum said: “I’m relieved, and stressed!” Speaking of his first priority in his new position, Callum said: “I’m excited to start addressing accessibility on campus, and looking forward to working with Access Sussex.”
The night also saw the election of three new Student Trustees, Charlotte Clark, Lucy Edwards and Abigail Thackery.