YUSU Yak on Academic Affairs

In a ball-bustingly bland presidential race this year, 2013 election excitement could be found in the hotly contested position of Academic Officer.

But unlike YUSU or YorkSport presidents, this position requires not only charisma and strategic campaigning, but also a focus on facts: a willingness to doggedly pursue the nitty-gritty of academic affairs.

The incumbent, Graeme Osborn, will be leaving his position after two largely successful years in the role.

The inimitable Graeme Osborn

The inimitable Graeme Osborn

During this time, the sharply dressed renaissance man secured a twenty-four hour library, improved student feedback across the board, and has overseen greater investment in study spaces and student facilities. All of this, while remaining active in the brass band, University hockey, Caledonian society, model united nations – amongst other things.

If that doesn’t make you feel lazy, I don’t know what will.

So in this election, colourful chinos and the Queen’s English won’t do. Prospective candidates will have to outline a vision that reaches an Osborn level of ambition, but with their own unique flair. They’ll have to be both a hack and a human, and they’ll need to be visible doing so.

Of the candidates listed, two are well known for their involvement in YUSU. Current Union officer Nick Hall is a well established name in YUSU circles, and the ‘go-to’ guy for anything constitution-related. This man is a byelaw unto himself.

But while he might be razor-sharp in an assembly, will he have the creativity and charisma that an Academic Officer needs?

Brownbill's Twitter alter-ego, the LGBT Ninja.

Brownbill’s Twitter alter-ego, the LGBT Ninja.

Former LGBT officer Emma Brownbill is also an active participant – and prolific tweeter – in all things YUSU. Insiders have praised her ability to scrutinise the finer details of union issues, a skill that proved useful in representing LGBT students.

But with little past experience of academic issues, she’ll have to use hustings to prove herself, and searing cynic Yusu Yak wonders whether she’ll be able to communicate her enthusiasm in a vote-friendly way.

Jason Brandwood has also thrown his hat into the ring. As the vice-chair of Langwith, most in his position might opt for a presidential, or even welfare, run. His choice to go for Academic Officer is certainly interesting.

He might have a solid base of support in Langwith, but if he can capture the whole Hes East bloc vote among an otherwise divided campus, he’ll be sitting pretty.

Being a YUSU outsider is no disadvantage – in fact, a clever candidate might be able to turn it into an advantage, running on a ‘crack the clique’ ticket.

Boasting a similar cut to Osborn, Matthew Kilcoyne has been both the vice chair and campaigns officer for the York Tories, the most prominent political group on campus. He’s proved his abilities in negotiation and diplomacy through his involvement with the UNA and in his associate role with the UK-Japan Foreign Policy Initiative.

Inside sources have referred to the aspiring diplomat as ‘pleasant but visibly calculating’. In a role founded on efficiency and strategic planning, this might be his key to victory.

Brass band member and connoisseur of pastel-coloured trousers, Eccentric maths student Danny Whitmore could be the new Graeme.

UoY Brass Band on the Remembrance March

UoY Brass Band on the Remembrance March

Danny may have not had any official YUSU role, but his popularity in Vanbrugh college, alongside humour and charisma, will be enough to get his name around. At the end of the day, he’ll have to couple this charm with a proactive agenda if he’s to prove a serious challenge to fellow Vanbrughite Nick Hall.

The race for Academic officer is an unpredictable one, and there’s all to play for. As Graeme Osborn leaves his role, candidates would do well to lead by his example.

It’s a tough job, and an even tougher legacy to live up to.


  1. “secured a twenty-four hour library”

    Not to take anything away from Graeme, but people constantly forget that this is part of Charlie Leyland’s legacy.

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  2. 19 Feb ’13 at 11:27 am

    Voice of the past

    The above is correct – Osborn merely saw through the hard work already done by Leyland and Humphrys (not to say he didn’t do that very well, but it’s not his legacy…)

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  3. 19 Feb ’13 at 4:53 pm

    Voice of now and the past

    Frankly Graeme has done nothing other than smile as seen in the photo above.

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