OUSU electoral review hopes to encourage student participation

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In an attempt to make the OUSU elections “more relevant and useful to the students”, David Townsend, the current OUSU president, has announced an electoral review.

The review will take submissions on a wide range of issues around the running of OUSU elections, including the way hustings are organised, the use of Facebook and Twitter in campaigns and the extent to which elections are publicised.

“I started running electoral reviews when I first ran in an OUSU election in 2010,” said David Townsend, “and saw that there were changes which needed to be made, and OUSU has continued this ever since.”

However, he went on to recognise the issues of student engagement which historically have been associated with OUSU:  “Since the institution of electoral reviews, there’s been a positive trend in voter turnout, but there’s still a good way to go before it’s as high as it should be.”

This year, turnout in the OUSU presidential election, which was held in 6th week of Michaelmas Term, was at roughly 20% of the entire student population, with a total of only 3,617 students bothering to vote for the position.

Expressing a typical sentiment amongst students, Tom Wainford, a second year PPEist at Balliol, stated: “I took no notice of the OUSU elections whatsoever, and I don’t think Balliol paid much attention to them in general.

“We’ve got quite a strong JCR, and so OUSU doesn’t seem to affect us much, so we don’t know too much about them and what they offer, and how it will affect us.”

This view was echoed by a 2nd year student at Keble, who said: “It’s not that OUSU actually is irrelevant, it’s just that people aren’t informed enough to know what they want it for. People probably feel that their college JCR is the body they feel more a part of.”

They continued by arguing that “if OUSU want people to really care about the elections and take them more seriously, they need to let people see the effect they’re having on student life. Until then, most people (myself included) probably see it as a bit of a non-event.”

Yet, the elected candidate Tom Rutland seemed entirely positive about the elections, commenting: “on the whole I was very happy with the way the election was run, the time of year was sensible and I had plenty of husting opportunities to pledge my policies.”

Townsend, however, made his wishes clear “that OUSU learn from every set of elections to find out what worked well, what could be done better and whether there are any fundamental changes needing to be considered.”

He went on to say: “I’m keen to make sure that the review is an open process to which every single student can contribute – especially those who don’t usually have much involvement in ‘all that OUSU stuff’.

“I’d encourage anyone with an opinion on how OUSU elections could be improved to write to [email protected]




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