CUSU candidate Shadab Ahmed accuses rival of defaming him at hustings

Image credit: Shadab for CUSU Access Facebook page

Just minutes after leaving tonight's hustings, CUSU Access and Funding Officer candidate Shadab Ahmed uploaded a post to his campaign Facebook page, responding to some of the things that were said in the debate with the other candidate for the role Rhiannon Melliar-Smith.

Ahmed made clear his "disgust" at his rival's comments, alleging that Melliar-Smith "focused her attention on herself as a someone from a state school background" in order to cast him in opposition to this. He has requested that the "elections committee look into this immediately".

He lamented her interjections which he said were not just "inappropriate" but were incorrect regarding his state-school background. Melliar-Smith had ended the debate with a summary claiming she was “the only candidate with experience of applying from a state school". Ahmed claimed hustings for the role had closed before he had a chance to respond to Melliar-Smith's comments.  In the Facebook post he said he felt that, by doing this, she was "invalidating my experience as a marginalised, working class BME candidate".

In a statement to The Cambridge Student, Rhiannon Melliar-Smith dismissed Ahmed's claims of defamation and said she was "very saddened" by "his un-nuanced manner" of response to the hustings.

In full she stated: "I would suggest that Ahmed’s statement derives from the fact that he underperformed during the hustings. My statement that I am the only candidate with ‘personal experience of applying from a state school’ is absolutely true and not defamatory in any way.

"A statement of fact is not a derogatory statement. My interjections were facilitated by the Chair of the Elections Committee himself, and he was consistently given opportunity to respond. I made no reference to his personal background or personal experience. My campaign is a very personal one, deriving from my own experiences as a low-income woman from the North West, who applied from a state school she had attended for 7 years. This in absolutely no way places myself in opposition to him, but is a citation of my personal experience for this role."

Melliar-Smith goes on to say: "I would absolutely welcome the Elections Committee look into this, and I look forward to seeing what they have to say." Her campaign Facebook page reiterates this statement.

Follow TCS's coverage of CUSU Hustings here

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