By Matt Dowse
On Friday, March 16th, the elected officers for the 2018/19 academic year were announced to a packed the Elehouse pool room, celebrating the end of a frantic week with a bonus 50% off on all drinks products as a result of how many voted this year.
The newly elected officers Sanchit Agrawal, VP of Services; Zaina Hakim, VP of Education; Anis Aman, VP of Community; and Amal Jolly, VP of Activities will join the current VP of Services, Adil Ur Rehman, who has since been elected to the role of President.
The Trident would like to congratulate each of the election winners for their victories, this team soon representing students across both University of Hertfordshire campuses when they take office on 2nd June.
But, first, how did we get to this point? Let’s take a look back at how the elections went down: the most successful, in terms of voters, UH Students’ Union election in history, and what it all means.
This year, there were 21 positions up for grabs. The majority are part-time positions, and these are for students intending to study at Herts next year. Most of these involve representing a particular school at the university, like the school of Humanities, and discussing the issues facing that school with the wider academic staff. The only full-time positions, however, are the five elected officer roles, the holders of which employed to represent students in a one year term.
These roles are salaried, and each has a number of unique responsibilities. The Vice President Activities is responsible for overseeing societies, RaG, UH sporting efforts, and Trident Media (that’s us!). The VP Education works with student reps to improve the quality of academic life at Herts, while the VP Community works to provide welfare services and create a wider sense of community across both campuses. The VP Services meanwhile, is responsible for the SU’s commercial efforts, such as The Forum, the Elehouse and SU shops, ensuring that student feedback is considered in the development of these. Arguably, the most exciting role in all of this is the President, who is responsible for overseeing the entirety of the SU’s work, manages the efforts of each elected official, and also sits on the University’s governing board; representing all students in meetings with the Vice-Chancellor, and local MPs.
So, how did it begin?
Voting for the 2018 Students Union elections began at midday on Friday, 9th March. 35 candidates put their names forward to represent students, and so began an intense week of campaigning, debating, and, ultimately, persuasion. Each candidate is given a limited number of resources like finances, with this amount being the same for each applicant to ensure a fair result.
We’re sure you had seen the many posters covering the walls of The Forum and deHavilland Atrium, with these spaces allocated for individuals to bring attention to their own campaigns, whilst other spaces, such as the LRCs, are designated as zones whereby students should be able to study without being interrupted by campaigning. The most successful candidates, however, were those who didn’t just litter campus with signage, but who took the brave step of meeting students face to face, and pitching why they would be most suitable for an elected officer position. Approaching strangers in public can be daunting, but the passion shown by those fighting for votes is always impressive.
Throughout the week, a number of hustings events were hosted in the Elehouse, giving candidates the chance to pitch their manifestos against each other, and debate issues presented to them by an audience of students. While not every candidate chose to attend, those who did were all given equal opportunities to explain why they felt they deserved the vote and to raise awareness of their own candidacy. Some of the most important parts of each hustings were the appearances by current elected officers, who highlighted the real questions that candidates must be able to answer. Pitching an idea is easy: delivering on it isn’t as easy.
President: Adil Ur Rehman
Vice President Activities: Amal Jolly
Vice President Community: Anis Aman
Vice President Education: Zaina Hakim
Vice President Services: Sanchit Agrawal
Md Rifat Ujjaman
Part-Time School Officers
Law: Shaksham Sharma
Life & Medical Sciences: Yassir Al-Kurawi
Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics: Ajanya Saji
What does it all mean?
With the 2018 elections now firmly out of the way, I’d like to reflect, as Trident Media’s Chairman, on some of the most important takeaways from the process. Trident Media has always played an important part in the elections process, and it was an honour to host the 2018 hustings in the Elehouse and quiz each candidate on their manifestos. If you’ll forgive the self indulgence, I find it relevant that four out of five elected officers were present at the hustings, as I feel that such events represent an important way for candidates to get their messages out. Moreover, the VP Education category (for which no candidates attended hustings) was far tighter a vote than others, reinforcing that these events cannot be ignored.
The Elections draws such a massive amount of attention that, as well as the many positive campaigns we see around campus, there’ll always be scrutiny of those who find ways to push the rules. Allegations of foul play were (as ever) a part of this year’s vote; however, the way that the student community swiftly called these out was encouraging for future elections to come, and, overall, students seemed far more engaged with the process than in previous years, evident from the record number of votes that were cast.
Trident Media’s view on elections has always been clear: this process is incredibly important, and so those who deliberately break the rules for their own gain are not fit to represent the student body. We welcome the rise in total votes cast and hope that UH students continue to support the democratic system of the SU.
One final takeaway, that I’m sure will be a sentiment shared by all, is that I’d like to compliment every single candidate I spoke with at the hustings for their respect and decency in the discussions held. It was encouraging that every candidate seemed to share a generally positive outlook on the university and the future of the Student’s Union, and I have full confidence in this upcoming year’s candidates to run the SU with a great deal of success.
Good luck, everyone!