The Students’ Union last week circulated new rules to club and society heads outlining changes to their election process. Society presidents told The Beaver of concerns about added bureaucracy and threats to the memberships of smaller societies.
Important changes include the introduction of mandatory online elections for societies with fewer than one hundred members. Those with more than one hundred members are able to apply for special status allowing for an offline process, only with SU approval. The deadline to apply for exemptions is tomorrow (Wednesday), a week after the first announcement.
Members of smaller societies have complained that ending the traditional face-to-face elections process will discourage informal applications and minimise committee sizes.
Quiz Club president Georgina Connah told The Beaver, “The SU is penalising small societies with these changes. Quiz Club relies on members running on the day and we don’t need further barriers to participation.
“It makes more sense for larger societies to have online elections due to quoracy, yet they get the opt-out.”
Eventually, Quiz Club, which won Best New Society in last year’s Union Awards, was able to secure an exemption by adding to its membership and explaining their case to the Activities Coordinator responsible.
Others, however, are still waiting for answers. The Sikh Society received no response to a meeting request amid confusion. The Beaver received no reply to a comment request regarding threats to “disaffiliate” societies that didn’t follow the new rules.
Ella Holmes, a committee member of both the Debate and Women in Politics societies, argued that the new rules will “create uncertainty for students contemplating running committee positions.”
“Running for an executive role requires a lot of thought and depends heavily on circumstances. If you win an election in one society then you might not want to run for another position elsewhere.
“What was effective about societies scheduling their own elections was being able to have backup options if you didn’t get a position you wanted.”