The YUSU by-elections got under way yesterday with the pre-campaign hustings.
Candidates for the roles of York University Media (YUM) Chair and Racial Equality Officer addressed those present at the YUSU Council meeting on Wednesday.
Anna Bucks, Mike Regan and Richard Mitchell filled the candidate list for the re-created YUM Chair, while Deniz Ekren and Abrafi Kusi, Sam Westrop and Michelle Osei-Owusu ran for the position of Racial Equality Officer.
Bucks opened by describing her experience with campus media groups including positions on YSTV, URY and Nouse. She is the NUS Awards finalist for Student Broadcaster of the Year and has worked at Sky News for the past three years.
Richard Mitchell, a director of The Yorker, has been a student at the University since 2004 and was a committee member of Film Making Soc.
Both candidates described what they would do if elected. Bucks intends to improve the YUM awards, increase cooperation between various student media societies and pledged to improve grants and funding. Mitchell and Bucks both agree that the media charter needs to be reviewed.
Regan, who was not present at the hustings due to family reasons, has been sent a cautionary email from Returning Officer Matt Burton about the creation of a Facebook campaign group almost three days before campaigning was allowed to begin. Burton stated: “I’m considering whether sanctions should be given and have formally asked him to pull the Facebook page. Mistakes do happen.”
In the by-election for Racial Equality Officer which saw Deniz Ekren and Abrafi Kusi, Sam Westrop and Michelle Osei-Owusu all running for the position. Ekren and Kusi are running together with extensive experience dealing with minority issues. Westrop believes his grandparents’ role in fighting Apartheid in South Africa has given him the necessary motivation for running. Osei-Owusu stated that her own experience of racism around York has led to her desire to assist others facing similar problems.
Ekren and Kusi wish to address the underlying issues of the lack of support available for students from the University. Westrop believes that all discrimination, both positive and negative must be stopped to prevent feelings of resentment and cultivate a bottom-up approach to ending racism. Osei-Owusu cited a poll demonstrating that students were concerned with racism from outside the University and wants to create a online forum to provide support and advice for those who feel they were victims of discrimination.
Questions were asked about how the candidates believed the University should react to the BNP and other fascist parties on campus and how they would go about increasing participation in minority and international events. Osei-Owusu believed that hands on involvement is the most important part of being an officer while Westrop warned that banning fascist political parties such as the BNP could lead them to obtaining martyrdom status among students. Ekren and Kusi don’t believe that the BNP should be banned and think that targets are too general to address the specific problems that minority students face.
Voting opens Monday week 5.