Win for Osborn in CUSU presidential elections

7 March 2013

After a tightly fought battle in the CUSU elections, Flick Osborn, was elected to the role of President this morning following an intense election campaign. She won the race with 1,421 votes, gaining a margin of 147 votes over second place candidate George Bangham.

For most of yesterday, the presidential race seemed too close to call with tensions running high among the three candidates Flick Osborn, George Bangham and Greg Hill. Talking to The Cambridge Student, Greg Hill said that after having seen the raw data he wasn’t feeling too optimistic, adding: “If I don’t win I sincerely hope it’s Flick. I think George Bangham’s policies are very dangerous.”

Bangham also commented to TCS that he would like to see Osborn get the role if he was unsuccessful.

Osborn was successful running as a more conventional candidate in contrast to Bangham’s reform agenda. On his controversial plans to create a depoliticised Women’s Officer role, she commented that she would “not interfere” in the autonomous campaigns, and would work to strengthen ties between the Welfare and Women’s teams. Osborn also commented that she would not be turning up to all autonomous campaign events, stating that “As a recognisable face, giving an accurate student voice to the media is the most important point”.

Talking to TCS before the results were announced, Flick Osborn reiterated her desire to get colleges more involved in CUSU to make the Union more accessible, should she be elected. “The University is an incredibly complex beast, and there’s a lot of that which remains unseen by the student body. I’ve been in CUSU for two years, and I still don’t understand a lot of the University structure,” said Osborn.

Turn out for the CUSU/ GU elections is notoriously low, with only 20.4% of those eligible to vote in the 2012 elections using their vote. Yet with 4,364 students voting, this was the highest turnout since 2003.

Online voting was lower than last year with 2,821 students voting electronically, whereas 3,064 used the online voting system for the 2012 elections. George Bangham, talking to TCS before the paper votes began to be counted commented that the turnout so far had been “disappointing” as the elections had “been my life for the last two weeks”.

The first result to be announced was for the role of GU President. After the disqualification of Xin Jin yesterday, Richard Jones became the only candidate in contention, and was successfully elected, gaining 688 votes. Outgoing President Arsalan Ghani commented on the results of the GU election to TCS saying that: “People showed their rights in the democratic process should be more votes, people are not fully involved”. Only 965 votes were cast.

Ghani commented further on his own experience as President of the GU, describing his presidency as “bad times” as a result of inheriting “a dysfunctional Union”. Jones has refused to give any interviews regarding the current presidency and the state of the GU until he officially takes over after the summer vacation, stating: “I am delighted to have been elected, and look forward to taking up the presidency in July. Until then, I have a thesis to write, and research to do, so I will be giving this my full attention until the summer.”

Rosalyn Old, out-going CUSU President, was elected to the University Council, telling TCS that she felt “really, really great” about the prospect of serving in a senior role for a second year running, and is “excited to keep representing students at the highest level of the University”.

Lauren Steele and Jia Hui Lee, both of whom ran for roles uncontested, were successful, being elected to the roles of Women’s Officer and Education Officer respectively. After being elected, Steele told TCS: “I don’t want anyone telling me what the Women’s Officer’s role will be…The Welfare role is political and it makes no sense to depoliticize it. My role is to politically represent women who don’t have a voice.” She wants to make the role more “accessible and diverse” and hopes to introduce more cultural events and to provide better facilities for student parents.

Another closely fought contest was that of Access Officer, where Sam Ruiz was elected by a margin of just 14 votes. Helen Hoogewerf-McComb was successful in her bid to become Welfare and Rights Officer, saying that “I’ve always wanted this role since I arrived. It’s been years I’ve been doing this and it’s nice to know that I can spend all my time doing it now”.

The contest for CUSU Co-ordinator was won by a margin of 110 votes, after the second round votes were taken into consideration. With a total of 1229 votes, Dom Weldon was “delighted to have been re-elected”. He intends to launch the CUSU shop which he first promised last year, and is looking forward to CUSU receiving additional funding £40,000 from the University.

Reporting: Jenny Buckley, Adam Clark, Tristram Fane Saunders