Last week, Label considered who should be running for specific Exec positions, as well as whether new ones should be introduced, and hence, who should be able to vote for these sabbatical officers. Whilst we considered the bigger picture, as well as the VP: College role, we also had a more specific article following a chat with Postgrad DO, Leo Rekiaro, and VP: Union Affairs, Max Crawford.
The issues that were addressed have all been discussed in Union Affairs Committee this week who have passed the idea with the notion that it will not be breaching the Education Act. The Board of Trustees are supporting the principle, pending legal advice. The Act of 1994 could prohibit the proposed changes to who can vote for the role of VP: College in Elections next year and beyond.
In terms of voting on these positions, allowing only the arguably “relevant” students to vote is proving problematic. The Education Act of 1994 in Part II, addressing Students’ Unions:
VP: Union Affairs, Max Crawford, spoke to Label about the current discussions. The Constitution currently says that: “the Executive Committee should be a forum for discussion of all issues of concern to students“.
VP: Media, Bryn Wilkes, disagrees with Max Crawford on the matter, saying that members of the Executive Committee should only ever be open to all students to both run and vote. Following on from this, Max Crawford gave Label the following statement:
“Bryn has taken ‘issues of all students’ presumably to mean that all students should therefore be able to vote on their Exec members. However, realistically I disagree, as I think that we are only highlighting all issues of concerns to students if we are accurately representing all students, which in our current state we are not.”
These proposals have undoubtedly met with various arguments for and against who should vote as a point of principle on democratic process. As it stands, the voting system favours the university voters, even for the role of VP: College.
“The argument of “democratic principle” isn’t strong enough for me. I can’t think of any observable negative implications for university students if only the College Students were able to vote for VP: Postgrad, but I have outlined a number that could occur for College Students and Postgraduate Students if anybody is able to vote. However, if this decision would mean that we are breaching the Education Act, then of course we would be unable to do it.”
As the university naturally holds thousands of students, proportionally, the say of the College is not strong enough. A similar argument can and will undoubtedly be made for when voting on a VP: Postgrad. This position has been passed by Union Affairs Committee and will now be discussed with the university. Max states that:
“Currently, a student could spend their whole time campaigning to other university students and not even bother speaking to any college students, and still get voted in, because that’s where the voter turnout is heaviest. Similarly, if there was to be a VP Postgrad, a student could dress up in a costume and door knock undergraduate students without paying any attention to any postgrads, and still get voted in… Incidentally, Ellis is definitely of the opinion that not all students should be able to run or vote for VP College.”
As “all members” are entitled to vote, unless there is a clear loophole presented within this, an alteration to who can vote on specific Executive positions will not be possible.
Discussions continue and Label will endeavour to keep you up to date with any progressions.