Candidates vie for votes at election hustings

Hayden Banks 1 March 2016

The CUSU-GU election hustings were held on Monday night, in front of a small crowd at the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms.

Among the most hotly contested roles are that of CUSU President and Women’s Officer, with Access and Funding, Education and Graduate Union President all uncontested this year. All candidates run against the option of RON or 'Re-Open Nominations.'

The four candidates running for CUSU Presidency were quick to scrutinise each others policies when questioning commenced. Former JCR Presidents Amatey Doku and Cornelius Roemer, of Jesus and Trinity respectively, both drew on their experiences in the role at hustings. Amatey spoke of his desire for more effective student representation at CUSU, proposing a ‘Vice-President’s Council’ to ensure students voices were heard more frequently. When asked about approachability, he alluded to his experience running Fresher’s Week at Jesus, claiming that he would be a ‘reassuring presence’. Cornelius said he would always put students interests first, arguing that a successful President requires excellent knowledge of CUSU, and listens to students concerns.

The youngest candidate, second-year Magdalene student Angus Satow focused his hustings speech on ‘policy not personality’. He said he was aiming for a ‘happier Cambridge’, facilitated through greater involvement with autonomous campaigns such as the BME and LGBT groups.

John Sime claimed that the biggest challenge facing the upcoming CUSU President will be tackling the indifference many students face toward CUSU. He advocated a three-point plan to improve transparency and accountability, suggesting end of year music concerts to improve cross-college socialisation.

Angus was quick to scrutinise Amatey for having only released policies the day before voting commenced on his Facebook campaign, whilst when asked which candidate they would be most likely to vote for other than themselves, John claimed ‘'probably Cornelius because he has fairly similar policies to me'’.

The Women’s Officer role has been described by many students as presenting the toughest decision for voters, with third-year lawyer Audrey Sebatindira against former Queens’ JCR Women’s Representative Connie Muttock. Connie spoke confidently of the experience she could draw upon for the role, citing the highest attended Women’s Dinner and Feminist Society Discussion group at Queens’ as particular achievements. She also suggested greater training for supervisors and Directors of Studies to tackle gender inequalities and push for greater representation for women on reading lists.

Audrey has been praised for her approach to intersectionality, stating that it was vital to build ‘'solidarity between students and academics'’. She argued that the Women’s Campaign represents an ideological movement and that we still have ‘'a long way to go’' until it is fit for purpose. She spoke passionately of her prior involvement in FLY, the Universities Forum for BME women, and Decolonize Cambridge, arguing that she would use the role as a platform for all female students.

The contest for Welfare and Rights Officer features Poppy Ellis Logan vying to be re-elected over Psychology student Sophie Buck. In perhaps the most heated discussion of the evening, Poppy questioned her rival asking '‘do you think you have as much experience as me?'’ Poppy claimed that whilst the position would be 'safe' in Sophie’s hands, it would be 'safer' with her. Sophie drew confidently on her studies in Psychology, arguing that her knowledge of mental health issues, coupled with organisational expertise as ECSU female welfare, meant she was more than capable to fulfill the role. When pushed on their policies on intermission, Poppy was quick to argue that she has already made progress on this, saying that it had become less of a stigma now, whilst Sophie said there needed to be an ‘in-depth investigation’ into the issue.

Eireann Attridge, Roberta Huldisch and Chad Allen all spoke as uncontested candidates for Access and Funding, Education and Graduation Union President respectively.

The candidates running for NUS delegate and University Councillor also spoke earlier on in the hustings event, with enthusiastic questioning from audience members.

Click here for Twitter coverage of the events' highlights.