Why we’re backing Akehurst, and you should too


Any of the candidates for OUSU president would make good leaders. Alex Bartram is paternal and statesmanlike, the Great Dane of the Balliol JCR. Jane Cahill’s vast and well-oiled campaign machine hangs over the election like a Death Star, but if we had to pick someone to rule the galaxy, she’d be high on the list. Louis Trup is the best combination of inclusivity and sandals since Jesus Christ.

But our vote is going to ReclaimOUSU’s Nathan Akehurst. Jane’s pledge to work for a better OUSU headquarters is important, and Alex has best scoped out the needs of the average student. But this is an important period for higher education, with the privatisation of loans as grim a spectre as the wanton slashing of the humanities.

And when the news comes through that tuition fees are being raised to £16k, or that government funding for universities is being reduced further, Jane and Alex will speak up. But Nathan will be outside Tory HQ leading the protests: we know what he believes, and we know that he has the utmost political integrity.

These are bigger issues than mug-painting and exam feedback. It will say a lot for the megaphone-bearer to be an Oxford student, and Nathan will represent us with aplomb. He’s no mug, having a history of thoughtful and eloquent contributions to our Comment section, so don’t think he’s not capable of the diplomacy necessary for the job.

Louis Trup has done his work, with a re-engaged electorate tapping its feet to his folksy hust roadshow. Let’s not spoil the joke by running him through with his own anti-establishment sword. Cahill is smart and principled, but her manifesto does not do her justice, whereas Akehurst has a bold but achievable policy on fines, and is backed by a laudable pledge to use impact evaluation tools for JCR charities.

For our money, Bartram would also make a fine President. His points about rent are more informed than anyone else’s, and his ideas about vacation residence and faculty running are as sharp as you’d expect from anyone with his experience and intellect. If you want a safe pair of hands, go for Team Alex. But the brave vote goes to Akehurst.

Search ‘OUSU’ in your Nexus to make your voice heard.

6 thoughts on “Why we’re backing Akehurst, and you should too

  1. Akehurst may be an activist. But – aside from huge fee increases which any of the candidates will stand against – his activism will by and large be about issues on which only a very small portion of the student body agrees with him. Of course, it is activists that vote in OUSU elections (which get a turnout of, what, 15%?), which will misleadingly suggest widespread agreement with his policies. But he is in no way representative of the Oxford student. In fact, he’s the least representative of the ‘normal’ student of any of the candidates. It’s patronising when someone claims to ‘stand up’ for you, when most of the time they’re ‘standing up’ for something which they assert that you want/ need, but actually you completely disagree with them.

    Bartram, I agree, is a safe bet, and has done a great job at Balliol. Cahill is such a boring choice but would probably be alright. Trup is the only really representative figure here. And he’s an ‘activist’ too. But about things people actually, by and large, agree with.

  2. Thanks for your comments. I agree that Akehurst himself is not representative of a lot of the student population, but I feel that he ought to be, more than he is, because he doesn’t shy away from issues of social justice: the exercise of backing a candidate is about arguing for merits, rather than mass appeal. It’s also worth pointing out that Akehurst would be moderated, first by other Sabs, and also by the student assembly, which is his idea, and would make OUSU policymaking more myriad-minded than currently.

  3. True; Akehurst being unrepresentative wouldn’t matter (when deciding who to back) in an election where you had confidence in the turnout (because then ‘representativeness’ would be manifested in the vote, so each individual voter would not have to worry about it). But it becomes more important, and should arguably have more of an impact on a student newspaper’s decision about which horse to back, when we all know how low the turn-out will actually be (even if, as seems likely, it is higher than last year’s).

    You’re right in the sense that, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to worry about turn-out and how representative a candidate is when deciding whether to back them. I just fear that, here, we do, and Akehurst (notwithstanding the potential that you point out for moderation) will undoubtedly take us in a direction where most Oxford students won’t want to go.

  4. I don’t think anything in our platform is especially unrepresentative or unreasonable. We’re calling for rents not to exceed the value of the basic student finance maintenance loan, for an end to arbitrary fining and for welfare training for academic staff. Yes, I do believe that loan book privatisation, soaring fees and cuts will hurt the education sector and students, and yes, I will defend fair funding for the staff, university and the education system that has given myself and all of us so many opportunities.

    But we are also the only campaign offering real democracy. If you disagree with one of the other candidates, you will have no recourse to vote against their plans or to vote for what you want our student union to do if they win. If you disagree with me, I’ve pledged an annual general assembly in which you will be able to have that argument in a fair environment and actually vote- more than anyone else is offering. This is how we can both be representative and push a clear, honest and decisive platform.

  5. I’m sorry, but Akehurst’s ‘revolutionary’ changes are just more bullshit from an OUSU candidate. The assembly is not a practical idea. There is absolutely no chance of a successful assembly being held, purely because there are just way too many problems with the current OUSU i.e. lack of student body interest, which leads to low voter turnout, which leads to a small minority turning up to meetings. His rent idea is great, apart from the fact that it is total bollocks, because there is no way that commercial estate agents will agree to lowering the rent that they charge.

    Jane’s ideas are just incorrect. An internal student union just doesn’t make sense at this university, because of the way that college bars operate. I have not met one person that feels the need for a university wide S.U.

    As for Alex Bartram, he just seems like a typical non-entity/ future MP. I don’t want to vote for someone who has no creativity whatsoever, who just talks about absolute shit all of the time.

    I’m not voting for Trup either. He’s the best of a bad lot, which is not what I want when voting for the president of my student union. I strongly encourage you to abstain from voting, just to make a point. OUSU at the moment is not up to standards, and doesn’t represent the interests of the current Oxford student.

    One thing I would encourage is that you vote for Jack Matthews. By resigning from his post in the scrutiny committee he has shown that he understands the problems within OUSU, and wants change… and that is definitely what is needed.

    For my last point, I utterly disagree with the opening line of this article; in my opinion none of the current candidates have convinced me that they are up to the job.

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