Last Friday night, the new sabbatical officer team was revealed during an intense ceremony that took place in Venue, in the Students’ Union. This team will succeed the current group of sabbatical officers in July and be responsible for helping oversee the Students’ Union during the 2016/17 academic year.
The victors are: Jack Taylor as President of the Students’ Union, Chris Duddy as Education Officer, Rachael Kitching as Welfare & Equality Officer, Jade Holroyd as Editor of the Courier, Rebecca Walker as Activities Officer and Sophie Matthews as Athletics Union Officer.
23 candidates ran across the six positions this year, a decrease from the 32 candidates who ran last year.
Speaking after the event, Jack Taylor commented: “Absolutely delighted to have been elected president of NUSU. Unreal effort from my campaign team to help get me the job, couldn't be more grateful!“
Similarly, in the Education Officer ballot, a clear leader emerged from early on, with Chris Duddy receiving 959 votes at the first stage, with the other three competitors receiving 400-600. Following three rounds of vote distribution, Chris Duddy came out with 1154 votes, with his closest rival, Beth Robertson, receiving 864.
Asked to describe his clear elation, Chris Duddy commented “Well I suppose it just feels absolutely immense. To know you have the backing of the student body to represent them is a feeling that I've never had before. This also means I get to stay in Newcastle for another year, which is the dream.”
The prestigious position of Editor of the Courier had the most competitors for any position in this round of elections, with five hopefuls. It went on to be won by Jade Holroyd, currently an arts editor on The Courier. This ballot proved fiercely competitive, with Jade receiving 736 votes at the first stage, with Ellie McLaren coming second with 441 votes. At this stage, only 6 votes separated second and third place, and a further 17 separated third and fourth. By the final stage, Jade tallied a winning 982 votes, with Ellie McLaren coming second with 748 votes.
"To know you have the backing of the student body to represent them is a feeling that I've never had before."
Jade Holroyd commented: “It's been the most stressful week of my life but somehow I managed to come out on top and I'm absolutely buzzing! The other candidates are all great and I would have been happy whatever the result but I actually won and I can't believe it. Oh and thanks to everybody who helped me over the week and of course everybody that voted.”
The fight for Activities Officer was hotly anticipated, with three candidates who have all been prominent in SU activities so far this year. However, Rebecca Walker took a significant lead from the start with 1139 votes to Katy Powell’s 776, ultimately gaining another 146 votes after redistribution to finish with 1285 votes.
When asked how she felt, Rebecca Walker responded: “It still hasn't properly sunk in that I'll be the next activities officer! It's so lovely to see all the hard work and stress that went into my campaign over the last few months pay off with the best reward of all! I'm super excited to get started and can't thank everyone enough for the support, it means so much and I hope to represent you well in the upcoming year!“
There were four candidates for the position of Welfare and Equality Officer, with Rachael Kitching taking an early lead with 841 votes in the first round, 200 votes ahead of Emily Wassell in second place. This trend continued and by the fourth stage of vote redistribution, Rachael Kitching won the race with 1008 votes in total, whilst Emily Wassell received 809.
Talking afterwards, Rachael Kitching stated “It's taken a while to sink in, but I think it finally has. Not only have I secured an amazing opportunity for myself, I'm also incredibly excited to represent and work on behalf of the amazing and diverse student community of Newcastle. #IRach'dForTheStars”
The battle for Athletic Union Officer was likely the closest of all the positions, with Sophie Matthews receiving 886 votes in the first round, whilst Jos Herbert trailed with only 79 votes behind. They remained close in votes throughout the voting stages and Sophie Matthews came to see victory with 1059 votes by the end, compared to Jos Herbert’s 932.
Sophie Matthews stated: “It's so surreal and I honestly don't know when it's going to sink in, I put absolutely everything in to campaigning and it's such an amazing feeling to know it paid off. I really didn't see it coming, so I had no idea what to do when Angus [the current AU officer] called my name! I'm so excited to get started next year alongside everyone else, but with my dissertation due in five days I really should focus on that, but it's going to be such a great year!”
This round of elections also saw the election of three NUS delegates, who will be attending the National Union of Students’ annual conference in April. They will be joining current SU President, Dom Fearon, and the two delegates nominated in the November elections, Matthew Wilson-Boddy and Luke Allison. In this category, three candidates ran for three positions and so all were successful. These were, Cynthia Adiele, Oras Al-Ani, and Victoria Armstrong.