Five out of six
positions for this year’s OUSU executive elections will be uncontested. Only
one candidate was nominated for each of the Vice Presidential positions:
Finance, Wel­fare, Access and Academic Affairs, Graduates and Women. The
position of President is the only contested post, with two candidates
nominated. As
these positions are not contested the current nominees will automati­cally be
elected unless students vote to re-open nominations. This position is similar
to that of last year’s election when only two positions were con­tested, and
two VP posts (Women and Graduates) initially had no candidates nominated.Jo
Lee Morrison, ex-JCR President of Christ
Church, considered
running for a position in this year’s OUSU elec­tions but decided against it.
Morrison stated that the attitudes of those already involved has “ended up
alienating the people most qualified” to run in this year’s election, and
specifically noted that they had not built up relations with JCR Presidents,
who are the most likely to stand for OUSU posts. Ex-JCR
President of Somerville Nick Bell also contemplated running for OUSU, but
echoed Morrison’s sentiments, saying that “strong runners early on” had meant
he was deterred from running, believing that “scare campaigns” were mounted
early on to discourage other nominees. Bell
as­serted that this was “unconscious” and that it was natural for key
candidates to be very enthusiastic about running from an early stage, making
people reluctant to contest positions against them. Additionally, Bell suggested that a
perception of OUSU as a “clique” led to a “feeling that you can’t really change
much”. OUSU’s
Vice President for Access and Academic Affairs, Charlynne Pul­len, believes low
levels of participation in OUSU to be caused by Oxford’s collegiate system. “People get
involved in politics on a JCR level rather than on an OUSU level” she said. She
did however note that, although OUSU is “never satisfied with low levels of
participation”, there is at least one nominee to run for each position and that
at the moment OUSU is “doing very well in getting people involved in
sub-committees such as Target Schools.”Bell stated that he is happy
with the standard of candidates running and believes that “it will be a good
team of Sabs providing RON doesn’t win.” Bell
commented on OUSU’s successful ventures such as Zoo and Oxide Radio, and
suggested that these could be used as vehicles to get more students involved.Oliver
Russell, VP (Graduates) said “I am not aware of any underlying reasons why only
seven students have nominated as Sabbatical candidates this year. The elections
have been well advertised and many current exec officers involved in raising
awareness… of the opportunities available as elected officers.” Russell
thinks, however, that this situation will result in “the major­ity of focus
going on the Presidential campaign”, and reiterates that OUSU “have always
advertised the elections to the best of [their] ability and will continue to do
so in future years.”ARCHIVE: 5th week MT 2005