Oxford hits the Jackpot

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Jack Hampton has been elected President of Oxford University Student Union, beating his rival Eden Tanner, with 1389 first-preference votes.

Turnout in the 2015 OUSU election was 3142, accounting for 14.2 per cent of Oxford students. Following weeks of campaigning, Hampton, leader of the BackJack slate, had secured 1389 fi rst-preference total votes by the time ballots closed at 6pm on Thursday, representing approximately 6.3 per cent of the eligible student body.

Speaking to Cherwell in the immediate aftermath of his election, OUSU President-elect Hampton, covered in BackJack stickers, said, “The mental health platform got a mandate and we’re going to follow through on that.

“I didn’t think I’d be that nervous. Thank you to my slate – as a lot of people know here I’m not very good at hacking.

“My biggest thank you has to be to Catz – I’m basically sure it was Catz what won it. I’m looking forward to taking a million steps forward with OUSU with all my great colleagues.” Hampton then added, “I’m not going to remember this evening – I’ve just drunk an unbelievable amount of brandy in ten minutes.”

Hampton’s closest presidential rival, Eden Tanner, told Cherwell, “Thank you to all of the candidates for their efforts in this election, I know there are some really strong people who have been elected and I’m sure they’ll make a phenomenal team. I know OUSU will continue to go from strength to strength with their good work.”

The presidential result only partly reflects the wider picture of the OUSU elections, in which it was expected Hampton’s BackJack slate might take a clean sweep of positions. However, BackJack lost the important position of Access and Academic Aff airs Officer to Eden Bailey from the IOU slate. In an immediate reaction to her election, Bailey said, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it. I’m so glad.

“I’m absolutely delighted. This is such an important time for higher education, and I’m grateful that the students of Oxford have decided that I’m the person to speak up for them all on the university and national level.” Orla White, also from the IOU slate, was elected to Vice President for Women with 677 first-preference votes.

Bailey continued, “The government are proposing some horrendous changes to higher education, but they’re not going to be able to go down without students shouting about it. And quite hopefully without students making a diff erence to their proposed policies.”

Sandy Downs, on the BackJack slate was elected as Welfare and Equal Opportunities Officer with 858 final round votes. From St Catherine’s bar, Downs commented, “Genuinely, I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who’s been an absolute godsend since this ridiculous idea was formed.”

OUSU President-elect Jack Hampton ran on a platform that included strong emphasis on the importance of student mental health and a pledge to visit either the JCR or MCR of every college each term.

Oxford University Labour Club’s usual involvement in the OUSU elections was somewhat reduced this year, with fewer OULC-affiliated candidates fielded this year despite the inclusion of OULC co-chair David Klemperer in the Oh Well, Alright Then slate. Freshly elected as one of OUSU’s NUS delegates, Klemperer told Cherwell, “This is a spectacular triumph for student apathy.” The Oh Well, Alright Then Facebook page gave the following statement in response to their clean-sweep of elections; “On a stunning turnout of 14.2 per cent, all four of us got elected. Thanks. I suppose this means we have to go to NUS Conference now. Oh well, alright then.”

The results follow a tense two weeks of OUSU electoral campaigning with increasingly strong rhetoric. Marina Lambrakis, newly elected Vice President for Graduates wih 394 first-preference votes, posted harsh criticism of Hampton on Facebook prior to her election, saying, “I guarantee you, voting for Jack will take us a million steps backwards (BackJack is a pretty accurate description, inadvertently). He doesn’t care about grads, he doesn’t do his research, he doesn’t know what the issues are (local or national), and he doesn’t know how to tackle them effectively.

“My ability to do my job next year if I’m elected will be SEVERELY curtailed if a President is elected who doesn’t have a clue. One weak link in the chain will stop OUSU progressing and achieving all the things we’re capable of. Please, let’s have an entire sabbatical team who are committed to each and every Oxford student.”

Lambrakis has since been accused of negative electoral practice for her comments towards Hampton.

In addition, former OUSU President Louis Trup criticised the BackJack slate’s Tinder and Grindr campaigning as “pointless” as results came in.

A number of part-time positions did not receive any electoral candidates and will therefore receive appointments at the next available by-election, likely a campus-wide by-election next Hilary.

OUSU is now expected to follow through on a pledge to donate 50p to charity for every vote cast in the election, amounting to £1571. However, returning officers will likely be disappointed that a greater increase in turnout did not result following the introduction of this charitable incentive scheme. One graduate student, Lindsay Lee, tweeted, “There were 3142 voters this time, and 3138 last year? As a grad student in stats, that’s hardly statistically significant.

“Super quick and basic t-test gives p-value of 0.51, meaning the difference in voter turnout is not at all significant.”

But the modest rise in turnout comes in spite of a reduction in the number of eligible student voters from 22,348 in 2014 to 22,003 this year, suggesting a more noticeable rise in the proportion of the student body voting.

This year’s results seemingly represent a narrower margin of victory than in previous years. Last year, now-president Becky Howe won 1343 votes, beating her closest rival Will Obeney by 710 first-preference votes.

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