To say that the Graduate Student Association (GSA) elections were an absolute shambles would be an understatement. When there are at least fifteen to twenty people whose votes aren’t counted, something is definitely wrong. What could be more important than for students to be represented by those they believe to offer the best support? Every student should be given the opportunity to vote for the people that will make a major contribution to their lives at the university but in these elections, they didn’t get that opportunity.
At the end of last term, the GSA commissioned a review of its own procedures in York and this was returned in September. And what were the recommendations put forward? Well, one of the main comments was that the election procedure needed to be reviewed to make sure the system is “more robust and transparent.” No such review appears to have taken place as the elections were run the same way that they always have been, and the result was the fiasco of this year’s by-elections held on 31st October, nearly two months after the governance report came out.
This whole term seems to have been chaotic for the GSA as the association which is supposed to have three sabbatical officers, only had one with the departure of the President in August and the resignation of the Academic and Welfare Officer in October. One person cannot be responsible for three people’s work and as a result, the term has been one of disarray climaxing in the disastrous elections which aimed to fill the posts of the two recently exited officers. These elections are now going to be run again with all prior votes being declared void but will this be enough to ensure students have confidence in the system? I doubt it.
The GSA clearly needs to sort itself out and one place it should be looking at to see how a student body should be run is YUSU. Despite the recent criticism YUSU has received for cutting funds to societies, in essence it is still well run by the students elected to govern it. Relations between the GSA and YUSU are antagonistic with the review suggesting the GSA are particularly uncooperative, when they should be working together with YUSU to enhance the services provided for graduate students.
The review has not been made public but I believe it should be, so that people can see exactly where the GSA is not meeting requirements. Perhaps it would encourage them to do some much needed work on improving the way it is run. The campus media should get more involved in the process making sure that there is a system of accountability similar to that of YUSU. Electronic voting could also be considered to ensure every person’s vote gets counted.
At the moment, the GSA is a mess, and unless this mess can be sorted out the students will be the ones to suffer!