Following a week of voting from Monday to Thursday last week (November 9 – 12), which saw 534 students voting for candidates across three categories, the results were announced at a small ceremony in the Students’ Union on Friday evening. Here it was announced that ‘Hit Refresh’ had been chosen as the Freshers’ Week Organisers for next year, whilst Sophie Harris elected as the new Students with Faith and Belief Officer, and Luke Allison and Matthew Wilson-Boddy chosen as the delegates for the National Union of Students.
The race for Freshers’ Week Organisers was relatively quiet this year, with only one team running, in strong contrast with last year which saw three strong teams battle it out through campaigns week. The winning team, Hit Refresh, consists of Lauren Exell, Maeve Hanna, Charlie Balkartat and Tom Cunnell.
“We thought our ideas were good enough to win, but we knew we had to work hard to beat R.O.N.”
Despite being the only team running, Hit Refresh ran an active campaign and received 482 votes, with the Re-open Nominations (R.O.N.) option receiving 52 votes.
Speaking exclusively to The Courier, Maeve, Stage Three Law, and Tom Cunnell, Stage Two Marine Technology and Offshore Engineering said “We feel absolutely buzzing”. Lauren, Stage Three English Literature, and Lifestyle Editor at The Courier, added “I can’t even. I’m so excited. We believed enough in our manifesto and we thought our ideas were good enough to win, but we knew we had to work hard to beat R.O.N.! Plus working hard on campaigns week is what makes it fun”. Charlie, Stage Three Biochemistry, stated “It was strange to actually hear George announce that we’d won. Obviously we were hoping to get it but actually knowing that we’re officially FWOs 2016 is insane. We’re ecstatic!”.
Hit Refresh’s manifesto included opening two nights in Freshers’ Week to all students, merging Freshers’ Week and International Arrivals Week so international students can be equally integrated and by having a larger crew so that the volunteers can have more time off during the week.
For the Part Time Officer (P.T.O.) position of Officer for Students with Faith and Belief, Sophie Harris won the two-horse race with 309 votes. Chun Yin Ng came in second place with 67 votes, whilst R.O.N. received 18. Harris ran on the platform of encouraging students to be open about their faiths and interact with those of -other faiths in a respectful manner. Additionally, she stated that she wanted to aid students in fully accommodating their faith in a student lifestyle.
The ballot for NUS delegates had four nominees competing for two positions. As the only voting category with more than two nominees, these were the only positions where the Single Transferable Voting system’s impact was seen. Luke Allison came top with 173 votes in the first round of voting and was elected at this stage. After four stages of elimination and vote re-distribution, Matthew Wilson-Boddy had 125 votes and was also elected as NUS delegate.
Luke Allison, who is also the SU’s Welfare and Equality Officer, commented “I am absolutely thrilled to be representing Newcastle students at the national union of students conference. Thank you so much for everyone who voted for me. I’ll make sure I do a good job.” Allison ran on the platform of hoping to challenge NUS’s existing bureaucracy which makes it ineffective, alongside campaigning for free education. Also speaking to The Courier, Matthew Wilson-Boddy said “I’m very pleased to have been voted NUS delegate and very thankful to my campaign team and everyone who voted for me. I’m looking forward to representing Newcastle at the national conference, hopefully together we can build an NUS to be proud of- a fighting, democratic NUS.” Wilson-Boddy’s manifesto focused on fighting austerity, campaigning for free education, and standing up against racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice and oppression.
Whilst six positions exist on the delegation from Newcastle University to attend the NUS national conference in Brighton in April, one is automatically filled by the SU President, Dominic Fearon, and at least half of the positions must be filled by self-defining women, as per NUS policy. As all the nominees were male, only two of the positions could be taken. Another election will be held in March, alongside the sabbatical officers’ election, for self-defining women to fill the remaining three places.