Since I’ve been involved in the student movement, one of my core convictions has been student democracy, and ensuring that what students want is at the heart of everything we do.
It is because of this that I have sought to overturn the result of this term’s NUS Referendum.
My suspicions were first raised at the count, where I observed that significantly more voter codes had been issued than was necessary. I was also surprised by the larger than expected turnout, both overall, and for ‘NO’. At this stage there was no evidence of impropriety, but I decided there was at least cause for further inquiry, and so I commissioned an informal investigation.
It became clear that there were serious irregularities in the votes cast, specifically that large clusters of ‘NO’ votes appeared to have been cast at the same time, and from the same location. At this point it was clear to me that the result needed to be voided, using the formal structures of OUSU’s governance. I therefore wrote a letter of complaint to the Returning Officer, suggesting that the referendum process had been tampered with, and that the matter should be immediately referred to the Junior Tribunal.
This process is now underway, and I await the decision of the Junior Tribunal.
The over-riding message of my campaign for the past few weeks has been that the members of OUSU know what’s best for them – that we, as student politicians, should Believe In Oxford. A victory built upon conspiracy and corruption would be hollow, hypocritical, and wrong. This is why I want to make very clear that I do not accept the result that was announced. I will be working with Tom Rutland over the coming weeks to ensure that the true wishes of Oxford students are enacted.
If there is one lesson that can be learned from this, it is that there is always a need for those who will challenge the powerful, hold the elected to account, and work to uphold our rules. As I move into my final year in Oxford, I am concerned by the lack of newcomers to the art of scrutiny and governance. I would encourage all to get involved – for the futures of our student organisations, from college society to student union, are at stake.
I would like to end by thanking everyone who has been involved with this investigative process over the past few days – you have all been most understanding, in what has been a difficult time for us all.
Campaign Leader –‘NO’ Campaign (BelieveInOxford)
JOINT STATEMENT BY JACK MATTHEWS AND TOM RUTLAND
Following the announcement of the NUS Referendum result, Jack Matthews, leader of the ‘NO’ campaign submitted a complaint, alleging serious irregularities with the process.
Both Jack Matthews, and Tom Rutland (leader of the ‘YES’ campaign), give the following statement;
“We are both concerned that the result of the referendum did not accurately reflect the views of students. We await the decision of the Junior Tribunal, and will be working together over the coming weeks to ensure that the democratic principles of OUSU are upheld.”