Executive Elections are now over and we have elected our Union Executive for 2013-2014. I take a look back and reflect on: the changes and my thoughts on the Executive Elections 2013 results.
It doesn’t seem that long ago I was in my first elections committee meeting where VP Democracy and Communications Ali Cole outlined his plans for elections reforms. The most significant change being the budget cap and back in December we fought hard as a committee to ensure that it was passed by union council. Other changes included: a shortened campaign period, a different style of hustings and an extended media week.
So do I think the reforms were worth the effort? Did they increase student democracy and accessibility to the Executive Elections?
If you look at the figures, 17 candidates and four uncontested positions it would suggest no. But taking a closer look at the diversity of the candidates that ran, you can see that the budget cap has had its intended impact. More candidates running from sections, some relatively unheard of names and arguably some candidates probably wouldn’t have ran if there wasn’t a budget cap.
Noticeably less Hall Chairs are running for Executive and it’s the second year in a row where the Hall Students Federation (HSF) President has chosen not to run. Executive is the natural progression for these individuals. Is the culture here at Loughborough slowly changing or does Executive no longer offer an attractive job opportunity?
Looking at the voting turnout, a shorted campaign period has had little impact on this. The website was a huge improvement from last year with clearly laid out manifestos and a Re-Open Nominations (RON) awareness campaign. It was the right step to encourage more informed voting and ensure the best candidates are elected for the job.
This election gained extensive media coverage by the Union and The Epinal which increased its awareness to the student body and hopefully more informed voting. LS Media really outdid themselves this year with three live shows, the big five questions article series and LCR interviews.
The bubble debate proved to be successful and gained a full audience on both nights and some gruelling questions being asked for the firing squad/audience. For the first time ever, there was independent reporting done by The Epinal which provided a platform for discussion and judging by the number of views and comments received during the election period; it was successful in engaging students.
In an ideal world I would have loved to seen more candidates running and every position contested but I do believe if we continue to adopt this model in the long term we will reach this goal. More students should be inspired to run future elections as a lot of barriers that were evident in previous years have been removed. It’s now just a case of marketing Executive as the ultimate graduate/placement job.
So what do I think of this year’s Executive Elections results?
Josh Hurrell, Becky Lauder Fletcher, Georgia Cheyne and Helen Crossley were all strong candidates and ran effective campaigns which was reflected by them each receiving 88%+ of the total votes cast for their position. Inevitably all four candidates were going to beat RON and with their experience and enthusiasm they are all worthy members of next year’s Executive. I’m particularly looking forward to Hurrell working on improving student satisfaction and Crossley widening the reach of LS Media.
Moving onto Zak Evans whose manifesto and diligence throughout the election period was always going to secure him victory against Chris McKenna. I hope he will be able to implement live bands at the Union and won’t be disheartened with being VP “Discipline”.
It was genuinely nice to see Action and Rag contested this year and undoubtedly all the candidates would have been excellent for the position due to their passion and involvement. Rag was the closest result of the night with only 647 votes between the two candidates. I believe both Nanson and Haar will successfully be able to lead their respective sections and continue to expand the opportunities available to students and continue to increase volunteer numbers.
Both AU President candidates had the relevant experience for the role and I was glad to see no mention of IMS in manifestos this year. The AU will be in safe hands with Jennie Cooper and I sincerely hope she achieves her goal of improving communication within the AU. Isobel Ford was a clear favourite from the start and I’m sure she’ll continue Georgie Court’s good work when she comes into office.
Finally Hannah Chrisp certainly proved my statement that anyone can run in the election and beat a BNOC or Hall Chair if they run an effective campaign. In my opinion, David Haines was the more experienced candidate for the role and he truly deserved a position on next year’s Executive. I wish he had campaigned more and maybe the outcome would have been different. I’m certain that Chrisp will be a good VP Communications but my concern lies in her ability to effectively deliver the democracy remit of the role. It’s still not too late for her to join Union Council and start to gain an understanding of the democratic structure.
On the whole the Union Executive Elect are a solid group of individuals and Loughborough Student’ Union will be in safe hands when they come into office this summer. I wish them luck in implementing their manifesto points and improving the student experience.
Having been inspired by the first bubble debate to run for Union Council and help change elections, I couldn’t have asked for a more proactive and driven sabbatical officer to work alongside. Ali Cole has done a fantastic job with the reforms and I believe they have been successful in increasing accessibility and democracy.
It’s been a pleasure to work alongside him and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being involved in every aspect of the election process; especially seeing our plans transform into reality.