‘Too many men, too few candidates’: CUSU-GU Elections 2016

Elsa Maishman 25 February 2016

The candidates for this year's CUSU-GU elections have been announced, revealing that five people are running for the role of President, three roles will be uncontested, and one role has no candidates at all.

Amatey Doku, Angus Satow, Cornelius Roemer, John Robert Sime and Robert Corbyn-Smith have been revealed as the presidential candidates.

The positions of Access & Funding Officer, Education Officer and GU President are all uncontested – with Eireann Attridge, Roberta Huldisch and Chad Allen running respectively. 

Sophie Buck will challenge current Welfare & Rights Officer Poppy Ellis Logan, who is re-running for the position. 

There are no candidates for the role of Coordinator. Applications were not opened for the role of Disabled Students’ Officer, as funding has not yet been approved by the University Council. A by-election will ‘’hopefully’’ be held in Easter term to fill both these roles, according to CUSU Returning Officer Jemma Stewart.

When asked why she thought no-one had put themselves forward as her successor as Coordinator, Jemma commented that the role is an ‘’unattractive one’’, continuing that it includes a "heavy administrative burden" that CUSU is "trying to move towards staff."

Several students have spoken out about both the fact that there are no women running for the role of President, and the lack of candidates running this year. Concerns have been raised that this will produce a poor voters turn-out, with Emmanuel College Students’ Union Education Officer commenting that: "people are hardly going to be inspired to take to the ballot box when three roles are uncontested.’’

Connie Muttock and Audrey Sebatindira, both standing for election to the role of Women’s Officer, expressed disappointment at the lack of women running for President. Muttock commented that "after all the awesome work Priscilla’s done this year it’s pretty disappointing to see no female candidates running for President." Sebatindira was more optimistic, saying that as the past two Presidents have been female she hopes it is just an "anomaly".

Referring to the presidential election, Eliza Frayn, Emmanuel College Women's Officer, told The Cambridge Student: ''I can only call the lack of diversity disappointing… and bizarre, I don't understand why there aren't more women interested in the position.''

Another JCR Women's Officer who wished to remain anonymous drew attention to the dearth of women or non-binary people running for the roles of University Councillor and NUS delegate, saying that the election involved ''too many men.''

Current CUSU President Priscilla Mensah told The Cambridge Student that she ''would have liked to have seen more gender diversity in the presidential race" however she did not want to ''detract from the competencies of the candidates who are running". She also said that "CUSU does all it can to get students to consider running and we've seen a boost in candidacies for certain roles and this should be celebrated.''

The race for both NUS delegate and University Councillor is also male-dominated.  

While the lack of women running for president is highly unusual, the small number of candidates is not. In the 2015 elections there were four candidates for the role of President, while Education Officer was uncontested. 2014 was widely considered the 'worst' year for nominations – only one position was contested. There was only one candidate for President, and no-one ran for Welfare & Rights, or for Coordinator.

In both 2013 and 2011 Education Officer and Women's Officer were uncontested. In 2012 Education Officer and Welfare & Rights Officer were uncontested, while in 2010 Access & Funding and Coordinator were uncontested. In 2009 there were two (male) candidates for President, while Women’s Officer and Coordinator were both uncontested.

 

A full list of those running for election in 2016 can be found below:

CUSU President

Amatey Doku, Angus Satow, Cornelius Roemer, John Robert Sime, Robert Corbyn-Smith

GU President

Chad Allen

CUSU-GU Welfare and Rights Officer

Sophie Buck, Poppy Ellis Logan

CUSU Access and Funding Officer

Eireann Attridge

CUSU Education Officer

Roberta Huldisch

CUSU Women's Officer

Audrey Sebatindira, Connie Muttock

University Councillor

Jon Wall, Joshua Jackson, Peter Juhasz, Umang Khandelwal

NUS Delegate

Brendan Mahon, Connor MacDonald, Joseph Toovey, Oliver Hudson