CUSU sabbs to stand again

1 March 2008

Alex Coke-Woods

Owen Kennedy

Launching an unprecedented bid for re-election, four out of six full time Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) sabbatical officers are seeking a second term in the forthcoming CUSU elections.

Never before have so many members of the same team chosen to stand for re-election. Their decision may have something to do with concerns recently identified by current Services Officer Adam Colligan, who has spoken of his discontent at the problems caused by such a high turnover of sabbatical officers.

“High staff and sabb. turnover has in the past consistently failed to keep records and knowledge in a way that the next generation can pick up and run with,” he told The Cambridge Student (TCS).

In addition to Colligan, the three other sabbatical officers who are standing again are Mark Fletcher (President), Charlotte Richer (Access), and Andrea Walko (Welfare and Graduates).

Speaking at the CUSU hustings last night, Fletcher said: “I’ve delivered on my promises in the last year and I want to move CUSU forward.”

“Over the past year I have learned of the problems CUSU faces. I know how CUSU works, I know how the university works, and I know how to push students’ views forward,” he concluded.

Walko supported these sentiments. She commented: “I think I’ve made a lot of progress this year and I’m proud of the work I’ve started. I’d like you to let me see it through. “I want to continue doing this,” she added.

Unlike last year’s elections, this year the candidates for most of the positions are facing a crowded field. The Presidency, for example, is a five-horse race, with Fletcher facing stiff competition from Richard Braude (King’s), Hugo Hadlow (St John’s), Guolong Li (Churchill) and Basit Kirmani (Queen’s). Of the six sabbatical posts, only Colligan is running unopposed, as he did last year.

Some of these challengers are perhaps more experienced than others. Guolong Li’s manifesto was a single sentence, submitted handwritten on a piece of lined paper, and was mainly concerned with his liking for pizza.

Braude obtained one of the biggest rounds of applause of the night when he identified “ents, ethics and fees,” as the major issues any future President would have to grapple with.

Hadlow, on the other hand, has outlined plans to limit CUSU’s remit, proposing to make nearly all of its campaigns independent, including Black Students’, Green Week and the campaign against rent rises. He would also disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS).

“CUSU spends a lot of money on campaigns which many students disagree with,” Hadlow said at the hustings, held at Gonville and Caius. “I abhor waste,” he added, proposing that CUSU should be “moving control of the money closer to the demos.”

Joining Hadlow on the “Change we can believe in” slate is James Robinson, the former Union Society Vice President, who is running for Access Officer. Robinson, who was heckled during his speech, recently left the Union in controversial circumstances following an altercation at a Members’ Business Meeting earlier this term.

Wearing full evening dress as he outlined his vision for improving access to Cambridge, Robinson said: “I believe there is an inherent tendency in this Union, this CUSU, to be ashamed of its status.”

“That is why I’m here this evening in white tie,” he added.

Former Union President Will Wearden is also hoping to join the CUSU team, standing for Academic Affairs officer. He faces opposition from this year’s CUSU chair Ant Bagshaw and James Sharpe.

Wearden is one of a number of the candidates who are also standing to become NUS delegates. Colligan, Braude and current Access Officer Charlotte Richer are also among the 20 candidates standing for the 15 delegate places.

The manifestos of all candidates can be read inside The Cambridge Student this week. Students will be able to vote online between 8pm on Monday March 3rd until 8pm the following day, while paper votes can be cast in colleges on Wednesday March 5th.