Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) unveiled its field of candidates for the 2016 election on Friday, kicking off the beginning of a two-week process to determine the new student union representatives for the upcoming year.
The annual election will see students vote for candidates hoping to fill the leadership positions of campaign organisers, liberation groups, school reps, student groups, student trustees and the Trading Committee. Students will also campaign to fill the four full-time Sabbatical Officer positions offered by the students’ union.
In publishing the official nominees, the students’ association revealed a diminished field of candidates compared to past years. Usually characterised by four and even six-person races, the 2016 candidate list was notably pared down, with only one race consisting of more than two candidates.
The contest for presidency comprised a two-man race between fourth-year politics student Theo Robertson-Bonds and third-year economics student Alec Edgecliffe-Johnson. Robertson-Bonds, who ran for the position unsuccessfully last year, is currently LGBT+ convener for Edinburgh Labour Students, and host of The Backbench political radio show on FreshAir in conjunction with Edinburgh Political Union.
Robertson-Bonds is also vice-chair of the newly incorporated Israeli Engagement Society, a political debate organisation approved after a contentious 51-27 student council vote last month, according to an article in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.
Edgecliffe-Johnson is former EUSA trustee and Outreach Director for Edinburgh University North American Society. He chaired a conference last year entitled Capitalism Versus Inequality in conjunction with the Edinburgh University Trade and Investment Society.
The Vice President Services (VPS) contest also pitted a previous sabbatical candidate against a newcomer. Hannah Baker-Millington, a fourth-year studying French, Spanish and European Union studies, who ran for Vice President Societies and Activities last year, will face off against Jenna Kelly, a fourth-year French student.
Baker-Millington was the former Disabilities and Mental Health group convener, a current welfare officer for Edinburgh University Feminist society, and co-treasurer of the Black Triangle Society, a campaign group advocating for disabled students. Kelly was a top 20 contestant in the 2014 Edinburgh Apprentice a member of the organising team for the 2015 Edinburgh Apprentice, and a Fresher’s Week Student Co-Ordinator in 2013, according to a profile on LinkedIn.
Competing for Vice President Societies and Activities (VPSA), another two-person race, were fourth-year French and Spanish student Jessica Husbands and third year medicine student Madeleine Payne. Husbands is a EUSA team leader, and an active member of the Hare and Hounds running club and Wind Band. Payne is president of the newly-formed Mental Health and Wellbeing Society, Sponsorship and Charities Co-ordinator for Edinburgh Students Charity Appeal, and founding organiser of Equalise, a series of events by the Amnesty International Society.
In the sole three-person person race for Vice President Academic Affairs (VPAA) are fourth-year philosophy student Nataliya Bondareva, fourth-year history student Patrick Garratt and fourth-year philosophy and politics student Harriet Protheroe-Davis.
Bondareva is a PR manager for Moscow-based charity fundraiser and organiser for the Norwegian Tolerance Forum, a subgroup of the recently-established Universal Tolerance Organisation. Garratt was editor-in-chief of The Student last autumn, formerly a Comment editor, and a student staff liaison officer for the History society. Protheroe-Davis is currently a delegate for both National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland and NUS UK, a founder of the Edinburgh branch of Women 50/50, a group advocating for equal female representation in government, and an organiser for the Living Rent Campaign.
The election period will get under way on 2 March with a referendum debate on at 5:30pm in the Teviot Debating Hall. The event will discuss the two questions which students are asked in the EUSA referendum: “Should Edinburgh’s students’ union change how it represents all students at the University of Edinburgh” and “Should EUSA change its name to UESU (University of Edinburgh Students’ Union).”
Polls for the EUSA referendum opened yesterday at 1pm and will close, alongside the election polls, at 5pm on 10 March.
A subsequent debate next Friday will tackle questions submitted by students. The elections season will come to an end when results are announced on Friday, 11 March at 6:30pm in the Teviot Debating Hall.
Candidates will be bound to election regulations set by EUSA. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to candidate receiving less publicity, or being disqualified altogether.
Such policies include those restricting candidates from spending their own money on their election campaign, as they can only receive funding directly from EUSA for this purpose. Candidates are also not allowed to start campaigning nor releasing manifesto details until Thursday, 3 March at 12pm.
Image: Edinburgh International Film Festival