Spoiling the Ballot: CUSU Elections Blog 11 – Churchill Hustings

Newspaper publication delayed by Student's Union 2 March 2010

Churchill hustings were a largely boring affair with most candidates delivering the same speeches as they had all week. Chris Lillycrop gave a speech focussing on coordination, highlighting that CUSU Council should be for sabbatical officers to listen not to talk.

Sophie Hemery and Jamie Gibson were criticised by Luke Hawksbee for having attended only five out of nineteen hustings, the minimum they required to avoid disqualification. This was particularly bad given that there were two of them to share the load and their predecessors had attended every single one. Indeed Hemery and Gibson failed to give a satisfactory answer to the question.

In the husting for Women’s Officer, Sarah Peters-Harrison hit back at criticism that her policies were just buzzwords and argued for a stronger Women’s Union going back to former times. Anna Goulding continued her call for a gender equality league table and it looks as if the contest will be close going into the final few days.

The candidates for Education, Maria Helmling and Luke Hawksbee have stuck to their campaigning lines throughout the week of hustings and tonight was no different. Hawksbee pointed out that Varsity had edited his policies by removing the word ‘against’ before ‘public classlists’ in their printed edition.

When pushed for some different arguments by the writer of a certain TCS blog, Helmling raised the issue of smart drugs. Helmling felt this was an issue that CUSU should work on alongside the university.

The hustings built up to the debate for President, where the Mansigani-Talmy double-act gave their usual hustings speeches. Ignoring my advice (see the previous blog entry), Beccy Talmy claimed that international issues can have a place in CUSU, but the issues must be treated sensitively. Talmy planned to focus her efforts on securing funding for an Ethical Affairs sabbatical officer for next year, whereas Mansigani highlighted that the relationship with The Hub could lead to sponsorship.

Near the end of the debate, the chair of the hustings, CUSU Education Officer & Trustee, Sam Wakeford allowed a short exchange of rebuttal concerning Mansigani’s priority to improve the CUSU website, in a similar fashion to the Presidential Debate. Talmy claimed the task of updating the website was not a simple one and was something the current team are working on.

Recently the CUSU trustees have been under pressure concerning their decision to block some articles from being published in The Cambridge Student. The inevitable question asked what the candidates would have done differently. Wakeford, as chair, claimed there was a lot of information not in the public domain, although quite what this is remains unclear and seemed to just be a defence.

Mansigani did not comment in detail as he did not know all the facts, but Talmy felt it was essential that no articles were prevented from going to print unless there was clear legal guidance.

My personal view, in the absence of any clarification or statement from CUSU to the contrary, is that the decision not to go to print may have been based on advice from Duncan Mann, the CUSU Union Development Manager, whose position may be under discussion at these elections and further advice the National Union of Students (NUS) who I believe to be institutionally incompetent.

The candidates disagreed on the suggestion of the Editor of The Cambridge Student being elected. Talmy wrongly claimed that the Editor was appointed by the previous editors, whereas in fact the Editor is appointed by the TCS Board of Directors, including the CUSU Coordinator and some independently elected positions.

Talmy felt that journalists in Cambridge have a lot of influence, so should be accountable for their actions. She did not admit to explicitly supporting the idea, but strongly implied she was in favour. Mansigani, on the other hand, felt journalists should not need to share their political views with the majority of students and opposed the idea outright.

The elections are coming to their final climax on Wednesday night with the count at the Graduate Union.

You can read all the fallout from results night and the final Spoiling the Ballot in this week’s The Cambridge Student.

Grayden Webb

The views expressed in this article are not the opinions of CUSU. Comments expressed in this article are the opinions of individuals, and not of The Cambridge Student.

Click here to read the previous Blog entry

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