On Saturday 29th October, elections for Student Union Officers took place, with over 1000 votes being cast on the day. However, questions have been raised over the potential disqualification of some candidates, due to society endorsement and use of society mailing lists.
In previous years, the rules have stated that no canvassing may be done via the email lists of University of Bristol societies, and societies were not permitted to endorse candidates. Punishment for not obeying these restrictions was set to be strict – the society would be disaffiliated with the University and would not be allowed to display at the next Freshers’ Fair. During last year’s elections there were allegations of misconduct, but the Union took no action, as they were made after the close of polling; this year, they came before. Furthermore, the rules for the election are not available online, due to the extensive web-page redesign taking place. This has added to the confusion surrounding the precise rules for this year’s elections.
The society in question in this instance is Bristol Labour Students, who sent out an email to their members appeared to breach theUnion’s rules. The email stated,
‘The UBU Officer elections are coming up and a few of the committee are standing. Rhian is running for Disabled students officer, Ruth for Women’s officer and Calum for LGBT officer – your support would be appreciated!’
The candidates mentioned were all successful in their bids, the votes revealed.
Scott Farmer, Head of Membership Experience at UBU, commented that ‘the returning officer received reports (not a complaint) that a society had promoted candidates in the elections. In this case in order to balance the playing field the returning officer asked the society to send a further email highlighting the other candidates in the election. This was done within an hour of the request from the Returning Officer.’