The wacky, the weird and the wonderful seems an adequate way to sum up last night’s YUSU Presidential hustings. Candidates for key YUSU positions gave short ego-building speeches on why they were better than everyone else. We laughed, we cried and at one point I even had a little snooze.
It was almost 11pm before the candidates for YUSU President filed onto stage. They were: David Levene, Tim Ngwena, Oliver Hutchings, Roberto Powell, Matthew Freckleton and David Hansen. None came off remarkably badly, yet some definitely scored higher than others.
The proceedings began, and first up was a ‘big name’. Mr David Levene graced the stage and soon familiar phrases were filling our ears: high tuition fees, department budget cuts, protection of college bars, fight against rent banding, increase of student participation. You know the story. Well presented, with a couple of funny bits: “My experience? What I do have is epic hair.”
And then the big one: Levene wants a page of each edition of Nouse and Vision for YUSU officers to write about what they’ve been doing.
Well, well. I may be a tiny bit biased, but I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of dictator YUSU imposing its views on the media. Sorry, Levene, but I don’t know whether you still have my vote.
Next up was the incumbent; the one and only Tim Ngwena. Now, Tim is a talker. He was slow and eloquent, he emphasised all the right details… but as much as I hate to say it, he didn’t really say much. Sure, he told us what he hadn’t done right this year, he drummed in the idea that a President needs experience to be effective (i.e. “elect me! I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt”) but as to what he intends to do if he does get elected… I really couldn’t tell you.
On the other hand, the next candidate, Oliver Hutchings (whose buttocks looked in serious danger of falling out of his too-tight pink trousers), told us exactly how he planned to achieve his aims. Aside from the cheesy rhyming lines (“We need detailed plans not simple scams”), Hutchings set out a clear policy plan: a greener, more democratic Union and fairer elections.
So maybe he did ramble on a bit, telling us to “elect the best candidate for you” (hint, hint: ME), and yes, he also spent a mystifying chuck of his two minutes explaining exactly what the job of the President is (and there was me thinking these were election speeches, not job synopses). But overall, he seemed like a nice guy who would fight tooth and nail for the student interests. So far? He’s definitely my favourite, but there’s still more to come.
The exotically named Roberto Powell was the next candidate to take centre stage. Powell seemed immediately desperate to prove that he had done a good job as Halifax Chair, and spent such a long time talking about his Halifax achievements that I wondered if he knew he was actually running for President at all.
But eventually (a raving Halifax foam party and a Halifax trip to Amsterdam later), he decided to mention the all important issue of the YUSU Presidency. Powell wants to invest in JCRs and create a landlord review website to help students choose houses. Most of all he wants YUSU to work for the students.
A little less “conversation and more action” seemed to be his motto. And he seemed like he meant it. While Hutchings might be the fun option, Powell is the serious one. Will he get things done? As he laboured to mention: his track record as Halifax Chair does work in his favour. So maybe he is the man for the job?
Next, I move onto the comic candidate of the night: the one and only David Hansen. Hansen addressed the “sub-human scum” that made up his audience, with his hands clasped behind his back and a poker straight stare on his face. He was, he claimed, “Dave from your Nightmares”. Amusing and highly entertaining though he was, I’d be highly surprised (and worried) if Hansen’s tale of being brought up among wolves and badgers won him the role of YUSU President. Though he was very, very funny.
Last but not least: was Matthew Freckleton. What can I say about Freckleton? Well, the first thing that springs to mind is lots of hands flying about the place. “I AM THAT CANDIDATE”, he said it slowly and clearly to ensure that no-one missed his point. So he has no YUSU experience whatsoever? According to Freckleton that’s a strength.
Coming from outside the Union will not only allow him to “see the bigger picture”, he will also escape the constraints of previous alliances.
Yes, yes and yes. I agree with you, Mr Freckleton, independence is good. But what worries me is Freckleton’s complete lack of experience of the complicated workings of YUSU. He may do a good job towards the end of his first term in office, but for the first half of his term, surely he’ll end up spending his time learning how the organisation works, how to get things done, and how to make necessary contacts? In short, he will be a burden on his fellow Sabbatical Officers.
We need a YUSU President who is fresh, strong and passionate. Good luck, boys.