Becky Howe, Will Obeney and Adam Roberts have all announced their candidacy for OUSU President.
“Joke candidate” Sam Wiseman originally nominated but pulled out. Wiseman emailed RO Martine Wauben, saying: “I’d like to withdraw my candidacy please. Drunken manifesto writing was a poor idea. Sensible friends have helped me to the conclusion that my running for the position is a shit idea.” He also expressed hope that “the rest of the election has less bullshit in it.”
Two of the candidates have slates, Howe’s “Team ABC” and Obeney’s “For Oxford”. Two further slates, “Right to Education” and “Team Women” have not fielded presidential contenders but are running for VP positions.
Howe, a former Pembroke JCR President, told The OxStu: “I’m running for President because I want OUSU to focus on the issues that effect students the most; flawed welfare systems, the high cost of living, and divisions within our university community.”
Howe pledged “to review the pastoral care systems in place on a college and university level”, “push for more equitable rents across Oxford colleges” and “open up discussion on ‘Lad Culture’….to engage in debate and propose solutions.”
Regent’s Park JCR President, Will Obeney, pledged to reduce disparities between colleges by producing “a Minimum Expectations document that outlines what every student should be entitled to”. Obeney further promised to “proactively challenge 16k fees”, hold a weekly out-of-hours surgery and to increase accessibility.
Obeney explained why he was running for OUSU president : “The Student Union is getting better, but it needs to meet face-to-face with students, and be more strategic in its lobbying on our university’s most powerful committees. I want to take charge of this process to allow the university, colleges, and OUSU itself to be more accessible to all students, regardless of their specific needs.”
Roberts took a starkly different approach, making only one pledge and stating that he would make no printed material and it is unlikely that he will participate in hustings.
Roberts, a former Wadham VP, told the OxStu: “I’m running because I think it’s really important we have a conversation about how OUSU can become more engaging and open. My proposal is to hold a vote every year on what policies we think OUSU should have, with the successful proposals being made into a yearly manifesto which makes it absolutely clear to the University and others what we as students want. It’s an interesting starting-point, and fingers crossed my candidacy alone will get some debates going. My one and only pledge is to kick-start that conversation.”
Prior to “joke candidate” Wiseman pulling out, he was criticised by former OUSU presidential candidate Jane Cahill on Facebook who called his candidacy “a terrible joke”. Cahill posted: “I don’t think it’s super funny and I don’t endorse his choice to make somewhat of a mockery of a serious election- which should be about policy, not personality”. However, she added that he is “an excellent friend to me and is a really really good guy”.
Three of the VP positions are uncontested, with only one challenger for Welfare, Charities and Communities, and Women. Access and Academic Affairs has four candidates and Graduates has two.
The NUS delegate and Trustee part-time positions will be uncontested and no one is running for Graduate International Officer, Graduate Welfare Officer, Mature Students Officer, Rent and Accommodations Officer, International Students officer, Community Outreach and Charities Officer, and Environment and Ethics Officer.
OUSU President Louis Trup commented: “These elections look like they will be interesting. I love interesting elections. Hopefully the key issues prioritised by interesting debate. All in all, it’s a great time to be alive.”
Returning Officer Martine Wauben said: “These big elections only happen once a year, and they determine who gets to represent you to the University and work to make your life at university the best it can be. Every candidate will have different ideas about priority issues and best solutions, and your vote will determine the direction that OUSU will take.”