A Student referendum had to be cancelled after the Students’ Union failed to uphold the guidelines dictating its publication last month.
The University of Manchester Students’ Union’s Returning Officer Emma Powell, who is responsible for the good conduct and administration of UMSU referendums, put a stop to the recent All Student Vote after a complaint was made by a student.
All Student Votes are required to be publicised no less than 10 working days before the vote is to take place, in order to allow students adequate time to create a campaign either for or against an issue. The vote in question was published 10 working days before hand, but with a typing error showing the dates for voting as October 22-29, rather than November 22-29. The referendum also had no “Abstain” vote on the ballot, as required.
Returning Officer Powell said in a statement, “Having considered the points raised by the complainant, I have ruled that, as the Formal Notice was not both comprehensive and accurate for at least 10 working days before polling began and that there was no “Abstain” option on the ballot, that these All Student Votes are not valid and will be stopped immediately and should be rerun with full and accurate formal notice at the next appropriate opportunity and with the ‘Abstain’ option added on the ballot.”
The vote will be re-run alongside the Executive Officer elections in March 2014, the time of the next scheduled All Student Vote, the Union confirmed on Friday November 29.
The cancelled All Student Vote had four questions; should students with British passports who have spent the last three years living abroad pay home student tuition fees? Should the University provide merit-based scholarships to international undergraduate students? Should all expiring Student’s Union policy automatically be resubmitted and put forward to Assembly? Should the Students’ Union create a rep council and merge its Assemblies?
Physics PhD student Joseph Clough, who made the complaint to the Union, told The Mancunion, “The All Student Vote should be all student in nature as well as name.
“The [vote] had not been communicated effectively prior to, and during, it taking place meaning that very few students were aware the votes were taking place and there was little possibility of effective campaign teams being able to be formed.
“If the all student vote had been allowed to continue, it would have been unfair and undemocratic and not engaged the students who belong to the Union.”
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