Joshi won 65 per cent of the voteDarshana Joshi

Darshana Joshi was announced as the new Graduate Union (GU) President today, beating Declan Maloney with 65 per cent of the vote.

Voting opened at 9am on Tuesday, and closed at 5pm this evening, with a total of 578 votes being cast.

Joshi will take over from current President Chad Allen in July.

The role was contested this year by two candidates; Declan Maloney, an MPhil student in Assyriology at Girton College, and Darshana Joshi, a fourth year PhD student in Physics at Hughes Hall.

Amongst the plans Joshi proposed were increasing the GU’s social media presence, organising more events for graduate students, promoting intercultural activities, providing better support for those new to Cambridge, and improving welfare services. Joshi also campaigned on plans to set up departmental peer mentoring groups and an advice service for those facing problems with their supervisors. She has previously held the position of GU Environmental Officer.

Maloney campaigned with three key policy concerns, including promotion of what the GU does amongst the graduate community, and the development of coherent, consistent guidelines for intermittence. He also promised to encourage affiliation with the GU among all 31 colleges, of whom only 24 are currently affiliated. Maloney is currently the MCR Welfare Officer at Girton, and sat on several society committees as an undergraduate.

Following today’s result, Joshi will now become the primary representative of graduate students at the University, and the chair of the GU’s Board of Trustees. Her role will also involve sitting on the two highest decision-making bodies in the University; the University Council and General Board.

Much like the CUSU officers, the GU President is a sabbatical officer and the role is a full-time, paid position. The salary for this years GU sabbatical officers was £21,507; Joshi is expected to earn this plus an inflationary uplift.

As Varsity reported, the GU has experienced multiple setbacks in recent years, including being removed from the Charity Commission’s register of charities. It faced being axed completely last year, until the University Council voted to continue to recognise it as representative of graduate students.

In a statement, Allen noted that the turnout for this year’s election had “well exceeded” that of last year’s, which he said was “a reflection of the quality of both candidacies”.

However, responding to her victory, Joshi told Varsity that the low voter turnout among graduate students remained a cause for concern, adding that her “first priority” as President would be to make the GU “more visible and relevant in the graduate studentscape”.

Maloney told Varsity: “Whilst this is a dissapointing result for me, this result stands as a success for Cambridge. Not only did this election see an unusually strong turnout, but the elected winner, Darshana, will do a no-doubt fantastic job for the entire graduate community. I wish her nothing but success in her future endeavours for Cambridge.”