Student elections, and the recipe for success this year

Hannah Parkinson gives her run-down of this year’s elections

Hannah Parkinson
26th February 2021
Image: Newcastle Uni Students' Union on Twitter
The Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) elections are well underway, as candidates compete for the seven Sabbatical Officer and nine Chair and Liberation Officer positions. 

Unlike in previous years, campaigning is online-only owing to the pandemic, fundamentally changing the nature of the election process. Social media plays a pivotal role here, meaning it is important for candidates to effectively utilise platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to win votes. Active engagement translates into potential voters. For example, Facebook is a great platform to create an organisation group. Instagram, on the other hand, is better for targeted infographics, sharing manifestos and disseminating key information. 

There are numerous other factors that affect voting, including gender, race, and age. The real question will be how this year’s candidates gain votes from outside their demographic. The next batch of Sabbatical Officers should look to actively engage with voters as we head into the elections.

Whether through online promotion or word of mouth, getting your message out there matters. If voters don’t know your name, they probably won’t vote for you. Last year, only 3072 students voted in the NUSU elections out of the approximate 29 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students represented by the Union. This equates to roughly 11% of the student body. How candidates tackle the historic lack of interest and knowledge surrounding the elections will be central to the outcome of this year's NUSU elections.  

This year, the debates are being streamed by Newcastle University TV, and the full line-up is available on YouTube. Voting opens on midday 1 March at nusu.co.uk/vote, and 50p per vote will be donated and split between three charities. The results will be announced Friday 5 March at 7pm. 

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