Fight for OUSU committee commences

This article was originally published in Cherwell on 3 February 2017.

OUSU election campaigns were officially launched this week, with the first of two rounds of hustings held at Somerville College on the evening of Monday 30 January.

Nominations for positions closed at noon last Thursday, with campaigning officially beginning the next day.

The event—held at Flora Anderson Hall—was well attended, in part thanks to the free pizza and prosecco on offer.

Several different slates were represented, each with a different policy agenda, and each with differing views on the current state on the NUS.

‘Stand Up’ advocate for combatting harmful government impositions and seek the existence of a plurality of student voices.

‘#takeACTion’ are running for “an Accountable, Consistent and Transparent sabbatical team that works for every one”, according to their individual candidate profiles on the OUSU website.

These are the only two slates fielding candidates for President of OUSU.

Kate Cole, founder of OUSU campaign for suspended students SusCam, is running for president with ‘#takeACTion’.

She told Cherwell of a “mix of nerves and excitement” when describing her emotions before the event.

Cole said: “This has been a year and a bit in the making, so it all coming out is pretty exciting.

“[There’s a] first time for everything, so this is definitely a first for me. We’ll see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, Vivian Holmes, former chair of the OUSU LGBTQ Campaign, is running for the presidential position with ‘Stand Up’.

Speaking to Cherwell about the campaign launch, Holmes described themselves as “slightly stressed, slightly excited.” They added: “I think my thesis supervisor is slightly more stressed than I am, but I’m okay.”

The most overtly partisan husts were for the position of NUS delegate, which sees three competing slates. There are six positions available.

Ellie Dibben, Ellie MacDonald and Niamh White are running for the position under the ‘Stand Up’ banner. They made clear their support for remaining affiliated to the NUS last summer, and now wish to see a positive and constructive relationship with the organisation in the wake of Oxford voting to remain a member.

Lucasta Bath, Baruch Zev Gilinsky, Adam Hilsenrath and Thomas Turner are running on the ‘Wake Up NUS’ slate, seeking to hold the NUS to account and to force structural change after the defeat of the ‘No Thanks, NUS’ movement last year.

Standing on the smaller ‘Count On Us’ slate are Sean O’Neill and Aliya Yule. They describe themselves as running “for welfare, for education, for liberation”.

Kathryn Walton and Andrew Peak are running as independents, with Walton using the hashtag #fightforrights.

As with the candidates for other positions, the potential NUS delegates were largely united on their opposition to PREVENT and the Teaching Excellence Framework. However, the topic of NUS President Malia Bouattia’s potential re-election was more divisive.

A question from the oor asked the NUS Delegate candidates if they would categorically promise to vote against any potential re-election. All four ‘Wake Up NUS’ candidates vowed to vote against, or to vote to re-open nominations if no suitable alternative candidate stood for the position.

There were vocal concerns about Bouattia’s alleged anti-Semitism, while Baruch Zev Gilinsky went as far as to describe the NUS President as “abhorrent”.

However, O’Neill and Yule of ‘Count On Us’, argued that it was too early to determine their vote.

Yule argued that Bouattia had issued a further apology for her alleged anti-Semitic comments, and thus could not be discounted off-hand.

Hustings were held for the positions of President, Vice President Access and Academic Affairs, Vice President Charity and Community, Vice President Welfare and Equal Opportunities, and Vice President Women.

Also speaking were candidates for the six NUS Delegate positions and for the three Student Trustee positions. Two candidates for Student Trustee were not present, although one did submit a prepared statement.

Only two positions are unopposed. Thomas Barringer is the sole candidate for Vice President Charity and Community, while Catherine Canning is running alone for Vice President Access and Academic Affairs.

There were no nominations for the position of Vice President Graduates. Nominations will be re-opened for this position at a later date. The final hustings are to be hosted at Keble College on Thursday 2 February, before voting opens on Tuesday 7 February. Polls close on Thursday 9, with results announced that evening.

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