Halls of Residence Committee elections were marred by lack of interest, with one halls – Owens Park – having seven positions unfilled after the first election, The Mancunion can reveal.
During the first set of elections for Owens Park last week, nobody ran for the General Secretary, Men’s or Women’s Sport Officer, Environmental Officer, Community Officer, or two Communications Officer positions – seven out of the eleven positions.
Nominations were reopened and a second paper ballot was held, but the Women’s Sport Officer position still remains vacant.
Disinterest was not only limited to the positions themselves. Seven per cent of Owens Park residents voted in the first election – a number which rose to just 13 per cent for the second vote, despite the ballot taking place during dinner-time in the dining hall.
President of the Owens Park Students’ Association, Megan Taylor, defended the turnout.
“Many students showed interest, whether it be nominating themselves or by voting,” said Taylor. “And we are very grateful for their contributions.
“I am pleased to announce that we had a very successful by-election to fill the vacant positions on the Owens Park Committee.”
In addition to Owens Park, six other halls commitees had positions that nobody applied for. Oak House had four roles unfilled, with Whitworth Park and Wright Robinson having three vacant roles. Opal Gardens, Richmond Park and Victioria Hall had two positions uncontested. Only Grosvenor Halls managed to fill all of their roles.
Information for Ashburne & Sheavyn halls was unavailable when The Mancunion went to print.
Charlie Cook, Community Officer, suggesed student’s lack of confidence in politicians marred voting numbers, rather than a lack of interest in the committees themselves.
“Before they come to University, students are often either unable to vote or feel that politicians offer them very little,” said Cook. “I think this is more likely to be the reason for low engagement rather than not valuing the committees themselves.”
Cook also hinted towards steps being taken to remedy situations such as that at Owens Park.
“One objective of next year’s elections will be to raise engagement levels across the democratic process from candidate nominations to voter turnout,” she said.
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