Looking back at SU elections controversy
The Student Union Exec elections have been at the centre of student body politics for a long time and have lead to students being involved and interested in taking part in UoM political processes. However, politics is never far from controversy and the University of Manchester SU has seen its fair share of controversy. Here is a list of 5 controversial events in the previous decade of the university.
In 2020, the results of the elections were astonishing. It was the first time that all SU members had international roots. However, the legitimacy of this election is questionable. Two elected exec members were accused of cheating. Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng, who was standing for re-elections for the General Secretary position, and Nana Agyeman, who stood for Postgrad Officer, were both accused of “cheating.” Students came forward claiming that they had not given students personal space while they cast their voted. To an extent students felt pressured to vote for these two candidates. As a result, the SU was still investigating these claims after the exec results were announced. However, no action was taken following the investigation.
While the 2020 elections may have been controversial, they weren’t much compared to the 2019 elections, where yet again Kwarteng was involved. These elections would probably go down in the history of Manchester to be the most controversial. Four of the candidates later banned by the SU were running on a ‘slate’ or common platform. The candidates were not allowed to campaign, but were still up for elections.
The banned candidates included Kwame Kwarteng and Rana Phool. Both of these candidates were international students and ran roughly on the same platform. However, if running on the same platform was not controversy enough they were also accused of cheating. Students had complained that these candidates had snatched the phones of students to vote for themselves. Both Kwarteng and Phool ended up winning, the elections in positions of Gen Sec and Postgrad Officer, respectively.
However, the NUS decided that they needed to do a full investigation. So to add to the drama around the elections already, the NUS decided that the international students officer would not be announced on the same day as the rest. The candidates for the position of international officer were told to leave when the results of the elections were being announced. The NUS took a further 2 weeks to do their whole investigation to make sure that no other misconduct had taken place.
This controversy was more on the part of the students rather than that of the candidates. In 2016 a candidate complained that their poster put up in the Students’ Union had been vandalised. Previously, there poster was graffitied with “Shut Up” and torn. However this time their complaint was more concerning as it had a swastika drawn on it. The candidate commented saying it was “very unsettling” for students to resort to Nazi symbols to show their dissent.
This year the controversy was neither on the students nor the candidates but the SU in general. The SU were unable to advertise and promote the elections well enough hence a lot of seats were left uncontested. As a previous writer for The Mancunion, Alice Rigby, called the event “a crisis of apathy.” She further believed that the SU was using unethical methods to try and get students involved. This included ways such as free BBQs, instead of actually using their influence to communicate with students. She also believed that the SU could easily investigate these events and try to increase candidates, but the lack of doing so was a bleak move by them.
Colin Cortbus, a candidate for the role of General Secretary had controversially stated that he would like to sack half of the SU execs. This was mentioned by him to be one of his policies if elected into position. He said that this would help the union save up to £66,000, further stating, “bring about an end to union waste.” He was in agreement on this statement with another candidate, Raj Singh. Singh argued that there is no reason for there to be both Diversity and Women’s Officers in the SU exec. However, Grace Skelton, a candidate for the Women’s Officer, said representation was important since 1 in 4 women are harassed during their time at university. Cortbus simply replied to this stating that he will make welfare a central issue for every officer.
If you see any misconduct occur at this election please contact [email protected]