Image courtesy of Huddersfield SU
From the moment it was announced, this year’s election sweep was surrounded by more controversy than any SU elections in my experience, and I have experienced my fair share of these elections now. Yet the main complaint against DIVERSITY is a complaint that we hear virtually every year.
Those of you who were around last year (and the year before that!) may remember similar accusations being made toward the group UNITY. We reached out to DIVERSITY and asked for a statement from the slate, DIVERSITY as a team issued the following response:
“There were some issues during the elections in which were dealt with by the deputy returning officer, we received a sanction and all our campaigners got completely banned from campaigning for the first 5 hours of the last day.
Results night as everyone witnesses was absolutely horrible and it should have been a night of celebration but instead turned into a personal attack on Sabrina the newly elected president. We as a slate understand that there’s a lot of anger out there and we want to move forward from this and we want to start preparing to implement the promises we’ve made to students on our manifestos.”
A short statement, however it highlights the key underlying issue here. The anger felt by the student population should be aimed at the returning officer and the Huddersfield SU democratic system, not the individuals elected into their current roles. It is clear that SU elections need to change as elected representatives are having their legitimacy questioned, something we can all agree can only hurt the student experience. A newly elected exec team is meant to unite students, not divide them, and so something needs to change.
Another clarification needs to be made, as in this heated time many accusations have been made from a number of individuals. There are three key groups within this debate, those who believe it was an unfair election for democratic reasons and wish to see the SU voting system reformed, those who believe it was simply the best team who won and that others may be just being bitter, and a condemnable and thankfully small group who made racist and/or sexist comments in particular to the President Sabrina both online and offline.
The third group in this is by no means the same as the first, and both sides should and will agree that this small group of people are wrong in their actions. However the argument for reforming Huddersfield Su’s democracy is not a racist or sexist argument, this is important to keep in mind as these are very serious accusations.
The final point to be remembered by everyone is that this is not about individuals, this should be a debate about Huddersfield SU’s democratic system. In an ideal world, an individual should be able to express their dissatisfaction with the last elections without offending or creating any bad feeling between them and the new exec, and vice versa.
Political discussion can only ever be a good thing, engagement in our democratic system at Huddersfield has historically been low, so I welcome any new voices in this debate, and we just have to make sure to keep the politics separate from the personal.