Last week Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) held its annual Autumn elections. After a week of voting from Monday to Thursday (November 14-17), during which 1208 votes were cast across four categories, the results were announced at a small ceremony in the Students’ Union on Friday evening. Here it was announced that ‘Freshers: Take 2017’ had been selected as the Freshers’ Week Organisers for next year, whilst Vidhya Gupta was elected as Scrutiny Officer, Errol Kerr and Daniel Wood (Job Share) as Students with Disabilities Officers and Karishma Joshi as Students with Faith or Belief Officer.
Alike last year, the race for Freshers’ Week Organisers was relatively quiet, with only one team running for the position. Freshers: Take 2017, the winning team of four, includes Chloe Burton, Alice Boniface, Josh Turner and Kieran Peel.
Although they were uncontested, Freshers: Take 2017 ran an active campaign throughout the week and receieved 343 votes, with the Re-open Nominations (R.O.N.) option receiving 26 votes.
Chloe Burton, Stage Four Fine Art said: “We’re all so happy and excited. Even though we weren’t running against another team, we still went around halls and campaigned. It was good to meet Freshers and hear about what they liked and disliked about Freshers’ Week this year. Josh and Alice were kind of worried about R.O.N., but me and Kieran were always quietly confident.
“I’m really excited for all the alternative events we’ve got lined up for Freshers’ Week”.
Josh Turner, Stage Three Fine Art added: “It’s going to be great. I’m most looking forward to the Prohibition night we are going to organise”.
Speaking exclusively to The Courier, Kieran Peel, Stage Three Mathematics said: “It hasn’t really sunk in for me yet, It’s going to be a crazy summer next year but we have loads of ideas and are really psyched about what we can achieve, especially some of the new alternate events we have in the works.
“We are really trying to big up Freshers’ Week Crew for next year too as we want to get as many people as possible. Taking part in Crew it’s such a fantastic opportunity and I’ve enjoyed doing it so much in the past few years, it’s a really unique experience”.
Alice Boniface, Stage Three History and Politics said: “I’m really excited to start putting together 2017’s Freshers’ Week. Our manifesto includes some new features such as the society performance space and alternative Union events every night, which we can’t wait to organise. It’s a brilliant opportunity to put our stamp on Freshers’ Week and hopefully make it the best yet!”
Freshers: Take 2017’s manifesto includes alternative events every night for the first time, using Northern Stage and Venue, with activities such as a Murder Mystery evening, Horror tours and a Poker tounament.
For the Part-Time Officer (P.T.O.) positions, all three roles were contested. The positions of Scrutiny Officer, Students with Disabilities Officer and Students with Faith or Belief Officer, have been vacant since the start of the 2016/17 academic year following the Spring Elections during which no candidates ran for these particular roles. The newly elected officers will join the six other Part-Time Officers who were elected during the Spring elections, to form a full Part-Time Officer team.
For the position of Scrutiny Officer, Vidhya Gupta, won the two-horse race with 166 votes. Devaditya Agnihotri came in second place with 69 votes, with R.O.N. receiving 0. At the results ceremony Vidhya Gupta stated: “With every situation I just want to go with whoever is right and I want to go through the process of deciding this and this is what I’m most looking forward to”.
The role of Students with Disabilities Officer was the most contested position in the elections, with three nominations. Errol Kerr, MA World Politics and Popular Culture, and Daniel Wood, Stage Two History and Archaeology, won the ballot as a job share with 196 votes. In second place was Pravnav Gupta with 67 votes, followed by Chelsie Boyd with 16 votes and finally R.O.N. with 9.
The victors, Errol Kerr and Daniel Wood, nominated themselves for the Students with Disabilities position as a job share. Daniel Wood stated: “We decided to do the role as a job share in order to make sure that we represented all students with Errol being a Postgraduate and myself being and Undergraduate. Also to ensure that all disabilities are represented”.
On the evening of the results Errol Kerr said: “We’re very pleased. We were stressed out this week we’re not going to lie about that. Whilst campaigning wasn’t necessarily difficult, it was very tiring. Maintaining a presence constantly was probably the hardest thing”.
Daniel Wood added: “Yes, this was especially difficult having two essays due at the same time”.
When asked what they are most looking forward to as the newly elected Students with Disabilities Officers, the pair said: “We’re most looking forward to Disabilities Awareness Week. The plan is to expand it further than last year and get more students involved”.
The position of Students with Faith or Belief Officer had two nominees: Haaris Qureshi and Karishma Joshi. Both candidates were took part in the Inter-Faith discussion last Wednesday. Karishma Joshi won the ballot with 202 votes. Haaris Qureshi came in second place receiving 97 votes followed by R.O.N. with 17.
Following the announcement of the results Karishma Joshi stated: “I was so nervous. I’m really looking forward to the faith week which I’m going to organise”.
The evening was hosted by Sam Cooke, Chair of Student Council, and Saffron Kershaw-Mee, Marginalised Genders Officer. Commenting on the event, Saffron Kershaw-Mee said: “Elections week was such a positive experience. Seeing every position as contested showed the passion students have to engage with and represent those particular groups.
“The results ceremony, was a huge success! Sam Cooke (the chair of NUSU council) and I were the glamorous hosts, and walked onto the stage to the classic stylings of Everybody by the Backstreet Boys (we did in fact, bring the flavour and show them how).
“Congratulations to all! The current PTOs, myself included, are so excited to finally have a full team of part-time officers in place at NUSU, ensuring all underrepresented demographics have a representative figure who can raise awareness and initiate a dialogue through campaigns, open forums and more”.