Analysis: GU presidential elections

28 February 2013

Two candidates are in contention to take over from Arsalan Ghani as President of the Graduate Union (GU). Richard Jones, a History PhD student from St John’s, is running head to head with Xin ‘Bruno’ Jin, current GU International officer, and an Engineering PhD student at Fitzwilliam College.

In Monday’s hustings, CUSU Chair Mark Chonovsky asked both GU presidential candidates: “Are you currently under disciplinary investigation for having assaulted a current GU officer?” Jones, apparently surprised and bemused, replied, “Not to my knowledge.” Xin, however, responded by saying “I think this is one for me,” and that “these matters are currently under investigation by the proctors and police.” At Wednesday’s debate, Xin noted that the GU president should not consider themselves to be of any more importance than other members. “We must remember that all men are created equal. Because he is elected president does not mean he should have much more power than other executive committee members.” Pointing to a lack of harmony within the GU, Jones said: “This year problems have come from within the GU, not in interaction between the GU and the University…We need to have something better to offer …than the sort of infighting and squabbling we’ve had over constitutional issues this year.”

Both Xin and Jones’ manifestos pledge to solve the constitutional problems which have been plaguing the GU over the past months. At the GU election debates on Wednesday, when both candidates were asked how they regain the trust of the GU membership, Xin said “Don’t delay things, don’t fight each other, but be nice to people and communicate with each other”. Xin’s suggestion that GU members should not “fight each other” has been considered by some students as a reference to the alleged violent assault committed by Xin on a fellow GU Executive Committee member last year.

According to his manifesto, Xin aims to improve the visibility of the GU: “A great proportion of graduates have YET to be aware of what GU can offer them”. During the debates, he claimed: “I have a lot of friends not even aware of the existence of the GU”. Xin has been working as the GU’s International Officer since last year.

Meanwhile, Jones is campaigning for a “purpose-built students’ union building to be included in the next phase of university expansion.” Both candidates have vowed to tackle the issue of international visas in the face of the current crisis for international students. Xin Jin vows in his manifesto to build a union which favors students “disadvantaged by family and visa issues.”

For more information on the GU and CUSU elections, see ‘Spoiling the Ballot’.