YUSU responds to RON surge with plan to address student discontent

RON came second in the recent YUSU President election after discontented students rallied behind the campaign [Image: YUSU]

YUSU has acknowledged the success of RON in the recent student elections, stating that it demonstrates a need to address voter dissatisfaction with the Union. In the largest ever turnout for a YUSU election at 30% and 5753 voters with 39,487 individual ballots cast, RON placed second in the YUSU President contest and left one NUS delegate position vacant on election night along with the Faculty Reps for Social Science and Arts and Humanities.

In a report published on the YUSU website written by the Deputy Returning Officer, it is noted that students used the option to RON in an attempt to “disrupt the elections” and that the campaign, particularly for the YUSU President and NUS delegate races, “mobilised support from students” demonstrating an increased “understanding that RON is a viable democratic option” to voice discontent.

In response to this, the report emphasised that: “It will be important, looking ahead, to fully understand the sentiments and dissatisfaction behind this campaign to address students’ concerns.” The victory of James Durcan in the YUSU President election was decried by some students as the top job was won by the seventh successive Caucasian college chair.

The report recommends that there be an engagement “in dialogue about YUSU’s representativeness and how to increase student engagement with YUSU” in response to the success of RON. As a result, the report announces that all Full-Time Officer candidates, including Oscar Jefferson who entered the YUSU President contest to advocate for a RON vote, will be invited to a discussion which will include “longer-term representation and student engagement plans.”

Feedback will also be garnered from candidates by feedback surveys and a post-election debrief which will focus on how YUSU engages with the student body and this is due to take place at the beginning of next term. Speaking to Nouse, Oscar Jefferson and his team commented: “We are pleased that YUSU has acknowledged the issues raised by our campaign. We welcome the opportunity to enter into a round table discussion and urge YUSU to make the minutes of the meeting freely available, or to hold the meeting publicly.”

“We object to the word ‘disrupt’,” they continued though, “our campaign was constructive with clear, tangible aims, and we abided by YUSU’s election rules throughout.” Finally, they stressed: “If YUSU are serious about reform they must commit to press freedom, reduce restrictions on election coverage, and allow publications to mention senior YUSU officials. We are currently forming a group to continue to hold YUSU to account, and to act as a proper, healthy opposition to the status quo of student politics at the University of York.”

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