The candidates start their campaigns this morningCandidates/Louis Ashworth/Johannes Hjorth

Most Sabbatical Officer positions will have just one candidate in this year’s elections, but the position of University Councillor will face a more crowded field.

The roles of Graduate Union President and Ethical Officer have had no nominations, and so will be filled by by-elections next term.

The five Sabbatical Officer positions other than President – Welfare and Rights, Education, Access and Funding, Women’s, and Disabled Students’ – will be contested by Micha Frazer-Carroll, Martha Krish, Olivia Hylton-Pennant, Lola Olufemi, and Florence Oulds respectively. Since these positions are uncontested, the candidates will only have to defeat the option to re-open nominations (RON) in order to win the positions.

The University Councillor is the student body’s representative on the University Council, the University’s chief policy-making institution, which commissions reports and approves Graces. The role is sought by four contenders, among them the incumbent Umang Khandelwal. Khandelwal defeated three other candidates for the post last year, but will face questions about what she has achieved so far in the role.

She will be opposed for the role by Josh Jackson, a second-year HSPS student who is one of CUSU’s delegates to the NUS in the forthcoming conference; Marcel Llavero Pasquina, a PhD student in the Department of Plant Sciences; and Peter Juhasz, a Natural Sciences student at Trinity College. Juhasz and Jackson also ran for the position last year, only to be defeated by Khandelwal.

The position of University Councillor has taken on special significance following controversy over the issue of divestment from fossil fuels. In January, Regent House, the sovereign body of the University, approved a Grace calling upon the University to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies. However, it is the University Council which manages the University’s investments, and has refused to commit to the policy, instead promising to deliver a report into the viability of divestment.

The debate has thus moved definitively to the University Council, and it will be the role of the University Councillor, alongside the Presidents of CUSU and the GU, who are automatically members of the Council, to act as the voice of the student body in this debate. Although the student representatives’ vote is unlikely to decide the Council’s policy, they will be the only means by which students will be able to influence the University’s position on this issue. Pasquina and Jackson have both made divestment a central pillar of their respective candidacies.

Although the five Sabbatical Officer positions are uncontested this year, several of them have been hotly contested in the past.

Welfare Officer was a hard-fought position last year between Sophie Buck and Poppy Ellis Logan, with their respective conduct being at the centre of heated debates.

After a heated debate at hustings Ellis Logan, who was the incumbent Welfare Officer, told Varsity that the campaign against her had been “demeaning”. In her own defence, Sophie Buck, who is the current Welfare Officer, told Varsity about the difficulties of running against an incumbent “without referring to anything the other candidate might have done”.

Similarly, the position of Women’s Officer was contested by Audrey Sebatindira and Connie Muttock, with the former winning by an unexpectedly wide margin.

Last year there were no applicants for the role of Coordinator, and later on the role was scrapped due to a belief that the role is “outdated and unnecessary in the current climate of CUSU, with a strong staff support team to carry out the administration of the Union”. As such, the administrative workload and responsibilities of the Coordinator were apportioned out among CUSU staff and the representative duties picked up by the other sabbatical officers.

The Sabbatical position of Disabled Students’ Officer has only existed since February 2016, when students voted to create it in a referendum

Elections 2017

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