by Nikki Walsh
UCLan’s Student Union will be led by a woman president for the first time in five years.
Josie Linsel scooped the SU presidency for 2015-16 by a rumoured 28 votes, after an eleventh-hour entry into the presidency race.
The 22-year-old promised to be “the president students elected me to be” after pipping candidates Stevie Seymour, Rob Micklethwaite and Joshua Ekoyo at the post in a closely-fought election campaign. Halifax-born Josie will take office on her birthday – 1 July – and head up a largely female executive team.
The election victory is a step-up from her current role of SU Activities and Participations Officer.
Speaking at tonight’s election results event (20 March), a shocked Josie told Pluto: “I don’t have any words! I felt like I was chasing slightly, but then just had a really good day today.”
Also voted into lead roles were Hannah Mason (Media Officer), Lucy Haigh (Campaigns Officer), Tasmia Salim (Education Officer) and Tom Daly, who takes over the role of Activities and Participations Officer. Josie hopes the voting results will lead more women to stand for future elections, especially for full-time posts, adding: “I’m not sure how female leadership is any different to male leadership.”
Outgoing President, Lee Mac, said: “It’s been an absolutely great night. There has been some bitchiness between candidates but also so much love. So many people have got involved every step of the way.”
The election results night marked the end of weeks of online and on-campus campaigning by hopefuls vying for a union role.
Also up for grabs were School President and Student Council positions. Voting closed at 5pm (Friday 20 March), giving just two hours to total and verify the votes before the planned 7pm announcements kick-off.
Despite an hour’s hold-up – caused by investigations into campaign complaints which delayed the count – the night remained good-natured and lively. There were cheers, tears and plenty of humorous heckles as more than 200 students crammed into the Atrium at Preston campus to hear who would be taking over the running of their union.
Confusion surrounded the Lancashire Law School President vote, as George Swiers’ crowning as winner was quickly retracted. The evening’s MC, Media Officer Matt Murphy, was forced to recall all the candidates to the stage, apologise, and announce that “after a recount” Ifeoluwa Adeji was in fact the elected winner. Ifeoluwa, 21, said: “I didn’t expect it because all the other candidates were really great, and everyone had their own different ideas.” The slip-up only seemed to add to the crowd’s enjoyment though with standing ovations and triumphant cheers the order of the night.
Many School President candidates faced no competition, but still had to endure a tense moment on stage while they waited to see if students had voted to reopen nominations rather than elect them.
There were many shows of support between and by candidates, including on-stage group hugs, kisses blown to supporters, and huddles of consoling friends for those whose election dreams had been crushed.
Overall, 3010 votes were cast in this year’s elections, a rise on the previous record of 2894. This year’s turnout stood at 11.1% of the UCLan eligible student population, above the 10% threshold required to make the elections valid.
Pete Shilton Godwin, Chief Executive of the SU, told Pluto: “It’s brilliant that we had such a large turn-out and so many students have participated in these elections. I look forward to working with all the winning candidates.”
The night also brought the results of the referendum on club YBD. Delighted campaigners roared their approval as the SU’s ban on working with the club was overturned by a landslide vote of 926 in favour, to 284 against lifting the ban . The Student Council voted to cut ties with the club in 2012, until it at least apologised for releasing a student guide containing messages deemed ‘offensive’ and ‘misogynistic’. The club submitted a formal apology to the SU in December 2014.
Emili Peake, current Women’s Representative, told PSTV: “I’m really pleased that everyone’s come together and worked so hard. We are going to be hopefully working with YBD to look at the policies they have. Obviously, there are still a lot of people who voted ‘no’, so we want to reassure those people that the club is a safe place to be. It doesn’t mean the SU will form an automatic partnership, but societies can make their own choice now.”
At-a-glance 2015-16 UCLan Student’ Union Election Results
Art, Design and Performance School President: Paige Denton (unopposed)
Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences: Martin Joyce (unopposed)
Education and Science: Shannon Bartholomew (unopposed)
Forensic and Investigative Sciences: Keeley Louise Whitehead (unopposed)
Health: Reece Doonan (unopposed)
Lancashire Business School: James Hofstetter (unopposed)
Language, Literature and International Studies: Charlotte Holdsworth (unopposed)
Psychology: Carolina de Almeida (unopposed)
Sports, Tourism and the Outdoors: Gracie Donoghue (unopposed)
Social Work: Bowen Perryman (unopposed)
Lancashire Law School: Ifeoluwa Adedeji
Pharmacy and Biomedical: Alinur Miah
Journalism and Media: Abby Littler
Student Council (part-time officers and representatives):
LGBT Rep: David McIntyre (unopposed)
Ethics and Environmental Rep: Naomi McLellan-Edwards
BME Rep: Renaye Roberts-Sinclair (unopposed)
Post-grad Rep: Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas (unopposed)
Disabilities Rep: Tasneem Vahed (unopposed)
International Rep: Priscila Sarmento
Women’s Rep: Chloe Knowles
Open Rep (5 seats): Debbie O’Connor, Leah Bradford-Thom, Yousuf Bhikha, Emili Peake, Roshan Kamal
Chair of Council: Sana Iqbal (unopposed)
YBD Referendum: ban has been lifted by 926 votes for to 284 against
Student Affairs Committee (full-time officers):
Activities and Participations Officer: Tom Daly
Media Officer: Hannah Mason
Campaigns Officer: Lucy Haigh
Education Officer: Tasmia Salim
President: Josie Linsel