Officers for Elevate slate drop out of Union election

Image Description: The Oxford Union being addressed by John Kerry

The officer candidates for the Elevate slate (President, Librarian, Treasurer, and Secretary) have all failed to nominate themselves for the Oxford Union elections by the deadline of 3pm today, effectively dropping out of the race. This comes after a former member of the slate was heavily criticised today, for referencing the George Floyd protests in messages asking union members to register to vote.

Despite all four officer candidates dropping out of the race, the candidates running for Standing Committee and Secretary’s Committee for the slate have already nominated themselves, and therefore will be on the ballot paper for the elections next week.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the former Librarian candidate for the slate, Olly Boyland, said, “I’m sure a lot of you will have seen the posts about Elevate today.

When I first saw the messages referencing George Floyd’s murder to solicit votes, I felt disgusted. No one should ever exploit such a tragic situation for their own electoral gain. The other Elevate officers and I attempted to ensure an apology was made, initially privately but later publicly. Unfortunately, this did not happen, so Melanie and Mo quite rightly went public with what happened.

In life, I try to abide by the ethos of listening to people’s experiences, particularly minorities’ experiences of oppression, and understanding rather than questioning them. Therefore, I completely accept that we, the Elevate officer team, completely mishandled the situation.

“We should have dealt with the situation more firmly and swiftly, ensuring a public apology was made at the outset. We should also have sought to ensure we had a more diverse officer team.

It is for these reasons that I am dropping out of the election today.”

He went on to conclude, “We should have done more to listen to ethnic minorities across Oxford, particularly black people, to ensure these messages were not part of our campaign, so for that I am truly sorry.”

The former Secretary candidate for the slate, Frankie Wright, posted on Facebook, “I’m sure a great many of you will have seen the articles and posts about the Elevate slate today. As many of you will know, it was my intention to run for Secretary of the Oxford Union in this upcoming election with the Elevate team, I have however decided not to run.

As Olly has mentioned, when the content of these messages was brought to our attention we were horrified. There is no way in which it should be acceptable to exploit what is undoubtedly a incredibly serious and difficult time for so many people for the sake of student politics. But our response to this was not quick enough, nor strong enough, and we should have acted faster to address and halt this. For that everyone who has been affected by it has my deepest and sincerest apologies. We should have done more.

It is for these reasons, and these failings on my part, that I have decided not to run in this election”

He went on to praise the courage of Melanie Onovo and Mo Iman in speaking out against the messages, and state he was “deeply sorry” for “the harm it [the messages] caused to the ethnic minority community across Oxford, as well as the complete lack of appreciation it shows for the institutional problems they continue to face”.

More to follow…