The Oxford Union has confirmed Olivia Merrett as its new President.
The announcement comes after President-elect Roberto Weeden-Sanz was forced to resign by the Union’s Senior Disciplinary Committee at the end of last term, after allegedly missing three compulsory meetings.
Balliol postgraduate student Zuleyka Shahin will take the post of Treasurer, after Antonia Trent was forced to resign from her position for a similar reason. Shahin, who also serves as OUSU’s Graduate Women’s Officer, was elected to the Standing Committee with 207 first preference votes, the highest of any candidate. She dedicated her election to “every single transperson who has ever doubted the worth of their life and their ability to achieve”.
Exeter student Nikolay Koshikov will take Merrett’s previous post of Secretary. Merrett’s appointment as President has been well expected for over a week, but was only recently confirmed on the Union website.
The role of President is usually handed to the Librarian following a resignation, with Rule 38 (b)(vi) stating that “The President-elect shall be succeeded by the Librarian, the Librarian-elect shall be succeeded by the Treasurer, and the Treasurer-elect shall be succeeded by the Secretary.” Current Librarian Stuart Webber, however, declined to accept the post of President. He is expected within the Union to run for President in Trinity term.
Webber told The Oxford Student: “In the face of difficult circumstances, I am pleased that Olivia is now the Union President. I am sure that she will do a fantastic job, and I very much look forward to serving as Librarian with her next term as part of such a dedicated committee.”
Merrett, a second-year Law student at St John’s College, appears unlikely to shy away from the divisive speakers that have plunged the Union into controversy in recent months. In February, Merrett emphasised her opposition to no-platform policies, telling student publication Versa: “I’ve seen first-hand recently how opposed to free speech large portions of Oxford seem to be.”
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