Clubs and Societies Support Officer
Common Room Support Officer
Graduate Academic Affairs Officer
Graduate International Students’ Officer
Graduate LGBTQ Officer
Graduate Welfare Officer
Graduate Women’s Officer
Mature Students’ Officer
Rent and Accommodation Officer
Student Parents and Carers Officer
This is a very sad state of affairs. Responsibility must fall somewhat on the slates for not finding candidates – particularly The Big Picture slate who are only running Sabbatical Officers. Responsibility also lies on those who have recently expanded our Part Time Executive, for failing to see their projects through – the positions of Trans Officer, Graduate LGBTQ Officer, and Student Parents and Carers Officer have all been created within the last year, yet no one will stand for these positions. Be under no illusion, this lack of engagement will be used as an argument for the abolition of the Part Time Executive. This could well be the last time any Part Time Executive officers are elected in a cross campus ballot.
Further to this, the following positions are uncontested;
Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ & Anti-Racism Officer
Community Outreach and Charities Officer
Environment and Ethics Officer
Health and Welfare Officer
International Students Officer
Student Trustee (1 candidate for 3 positions)
Vice President – Charities and Community
Vice President – Graduates
Vice President – Women
This is a very disappointing position for us to be in. On a brighter note, there is a healthy number of independent candidates running for positions, something very much to be welcomed! And to be clear, I welcome independent candidates as I believe the field of play should be level – slates are still a good thing for our democracy, and the resistance of people to build them is misguided.
While Student Trustee will be uncontested, it is great to see 8 candidates for the 6 positions for NUS delegate. However, due to the NUS imposed gender-quota, several of the candidates already have their victory pretty much in the bag. The fight will be on for the remaining places.
The race for Vice President – Welfare and Equal Opportunities seems to be an interesting one. Sandy Downs of the BackJack slate, has a mix of policies from peer support, to suspended students and liberations groups. However, a quick read through by a grad like myself reveals the clunky phrase “in every College, including PPH’s and MCR’s” multiple times, which is both meaningless, and also reads to graduates as an empty platitude – something the entire BackJack slate will need to be aware of. Jenny Walker is running on the Welfair slate, the platform is very similar to that of Sandy, but with a little more detail of the tangible policies to be implemented. While the Welfair branding is bold and defining, it is not clear how this will convert into votes – there is no link to social media or a website. Jessy Parker Humphreys is also running for VP (WEO) as an independents candidate. With a simple yet effective manifesto with links to more information online, this is a lesson in how you don’t have to spend great amounts of time or money to make a good exhibition of your policies. Jessy also benefits from the clearest set of policies – regardless of whether you agree with them or not, the proposals are not wishy-washy; you can actually see, and understand, exactly what is being proposed. For Jessy, it will all come down to the electoral machine they can muster, but they have given themselves a strong platform from which to make an independent bid for high office.
For Vice President – Access and Academic Affairs there are two candidates. Duncan Shephers is the JCR President of Balliol, and running on the BackJack slate. It is obvious that Duncan understands not only the issues that will win him votes, but also the real issues that need to be tackled in the position. He has a strong platform that smoothly knits together, from unconscious bias in applications, through to effective outreach, and financial support. If anything, his manifesto is heavy on access and weak on academic affairs, with a single section on workload. Manifesto design, while forming a nice brand, doesn’t help lead the eye and bring out particular points of interest – and issue for all of BackJack. Oh yeh, and it’s designed by Will Neaverson, the former agent of the Jane4Change (2013) slate who (some would say illegally) ripped of a professional website to use as the slate webpage. #Awkward. The other candidate is Eden Bailey, a long term Divisional Board Rep in the Humanities, and candidate for the same position last year. Her manifesto design is what I would call ‘Classic NUS Block of 15’ – its different, separates ideas into different design areas, and for that authentic look, has cut-out style images, and text on scrumpled-paper background. Its memorable and defining, but suffers from the same issues as BackJack – too may blocks of text. On the policy side, Eden has many well thought through access policies, and, just like Duncan, only really talks about Academic Affairs with regard to workload. Boiling it down, their policies are very similar – it will be interesting to see how the differentiate from each other. What is disappointing is that neither of them mentioned the Higher Education Green Paper. Their term of office as VP will likely see the biggest overhaul in fees, the monitoring of access, how Student Unions are governed, and how quality education is assured, in a generation. We have known this Green Paper was coming for weeks – to have completely omitted it is worrying.
For President there are just 2 candidates. Only a month or so ago it looked like there could be as many as 5 or 6 – but at least it is contested. Eden Tanner, running on The Big Picture Slate, has a wide platform of issues from training, to welfare, technology, and generally standing up for students. Her experience, and the issues she talks about, show she clearly understands what is going on, and how to solve the big issues. However, the way she discusses these topics may not be accessible to those outside the OUSU-bubble – will it make sense to the famous ‘Ordinary Student Member’? That, combined with a manifesto reminiscent of something produced on a Windows 95 machine, shows that Eden’s biggest problem is going to be getting her message across, and communication in general. Jack Hampton, of the BackJack slate, runs on his platform as a student representative on the University Committee known as JScEcSM (N.B. He doesn’t sit on this committee anymore as far as I’m aware) and as a former JCR President at St Catz. His policies focus on mental health, a link he shares with the rest of his slate, with mention of workload, punitive collections, and reading weeks. Aside from that there is little else, with a few statements about visiting Common Rooms and being accountable. My guess is that in his policy choices and slate composition, he is trying to repeat the success of current President, Becky Howe, who also has a strong mental health platform. He may not be standing on much, other than mental health, but he’s the candidate to beat at the moment.
I’ve got a great deal more to say, especially about the Presidential campaigns, but that will have to wait a while. Till then, let’s hope we see some new ideas flourish, some tired ones get put to bed, and a good campaign where the interests of students come first.
Because at the moment, it’s all a bit naff.
If you'd like to hear me moan some more / praise the new and wonderful policies and ideas yet to be announced, hear the results come in live, and get up to date new and commentary from a specially selected group of experts - tune in to Oxide Radio from 5.45pm on Thursday 19th November.