It’s that time of year again where hopeful candidates are creating Facebook profiles and following you on Instagram, even if you’ve never heard of them before.
On 8th March, campaigning for the Students’ Associations’ elections began. Voting then opened on 14th March at midnight and closed on 15th March at 6pm. So, what roles are there, what do they do and why is it important to vote?
Within the Students’ Association, there are approximately 60 elected positions which any matriculated student can run for.
6 of these roles are the full-time Sabbatical Officers, which are students who take a year out from studying for the job. First, the Association President is the main spokesperson for students. Those applying this year are Barry Will, Juan Pablo Rodriguez and Stella Maris. While Juan Pablo Rodriguez has been in the role this year and promises experience and continuity, Barry Will has also put his hat in the ring. After having led CASH for the past couple of years, his manifesto promises a new and radical approach to housing, activism and access.
The other Sabb officers include: Athletic Union President; Director of Education; Director of Events and Services; Director of Student Development and Activities; and the Director of Wellbeing and Equality.
On 13 March, both the Association President candidates and the Athletic Union candidates debated in St Salvator’s Quad.
The Athletic Union candidates were up first. Fiona Waddell spoke on her experience as an athlete and her understanding of the successes and challenges of sports. She clarified her key points of her manifesto which are accessibility, culture, development and transparency.
Pasha Moradzadeh-Tehrani also spoke on his wide experience, and emphasised his desire for a consistent, transparent and accessible AU for everyone, and the desire for equal opportunities within sport.
After the debate between Athletic Union candidates, the debate began between candidates for Association President. Key topics of controversy included combatting the housing crisis alongside the cost-of-living crisis, sustainability, and widening access.
Barry emphasized that he had ‘dedicated [his] entire time at St Andrews to advocating for affordable and accessible housing […] and action on climate crisis and widening access.’ He added that ‘I think our current student leaders have failed us’ and that he wishes to form a ‘powerful, radical and representative union’.
Juan Pablo Rodríguez spoke on his experience and how he has been able to ‘work on issues within the union from the inside, and how we can fix it structurally speaking’. He added the importance of empowering voices when they need to be heard by the university.
Stella, current Rector’s Assessor, said that she has the ‘experience, dedication and the knowledge to be able to actually address these issues in a way that is mature, that recognises current resources available to students and the university’. She has pledged to be honest about realistic solutions to current problems.
Alongside the Sabbatical Officers, students can also vote for their representatives on the Student Representative Council. These roles include: Accommodation Officer; Alumni Officer; Arts and Divinity Faculty President; Association Chair; BAME Officer; Charities Officer; Community Relations Officer; Disability Officer; Employability Officer; Environment Officer; Gender Equality Officer; International Students’ Officer; LGBT+ Officer; Lifelong and Flexible Leaners Officer; Postgraduate Academic Convenor; Postgraduate Activities Officer; Postgraduate Development Officer; Science and Medicine Faculty President; Secretary to the SRC; Societies Officer; Student Health Officer; and Widening Access and Participation Officer.
In addition to the positions on the SRC, elections are open for School Presidents who are in charge of leading class reps to create change and continuity in Schools.
Over the past few years, the absolute turnout has decreased from over 4,500 votes in 2015 to under 3,000 in 2021. Likewise, the number of uncontested positions has increased from under 20 in 2015 to 30 in 2021. To tackle the voting, the Students’ Association emailed students with the opportunity to pledge to vote. By doing this, students could opt in for a chance to win a prize of a guided tour around Scotland. Furthermore, free cupcakes and stickers were handed out around town on both days for those who voted.
It was announced that Barry Will would be the Association President for 2023-24, and Fiona Waddell will be Athletic Union President.