Candidates will have nine days to campaign before voting closes next Fridayrosie bradbury/becca nichols/composite: Rosie bradbury

Campaigning opened today in what will likely to be a hotly contested election season, with 15 students competing for seven full-time sabbatical roles – one of the most competitive seasons in recent years.

Two experienced candidates will battle it out for the role of CUSU president: Shadab Ahmed, currently the CUSU Access & Funding Officer, and Edward Parker Humphreys, a former Jesus JCR president.

Over the next nine days, candidates will take to lecture sites, college bars, and social media to convince students to turn out to vote in the CUSU and Graduate Union elections. Candidates will battle it out in hustings tomorrow evening at 6pm in 17 the University Centre’s Cormack Room.

This year's campaign season is likely to look drastically different from lent term last year, where snow and staff strikes left many potential voters cocooned in their rooms, and candidates relegated to campaigning on social media. 

CUSU and GU elections have historically seen low turnout, with turnout levels at 20.9% and 11% respectively last year, although current CUSU president Evie Aspinall has said she is hopeful that there will be high levels of engagement with the upcoming elections.

This is the first time in the past few years that only two candidates will compete for the position of CUSU president: last year’s election saw Evie Aspinall overtake candidate Siyang Wei as a result of second preference votes from third candidate Connor MacDonald. Ahmed says he will bring “continuity and experience” to the role, while Parker Humphreys’ campaign will prioritise financial support and student welfare. Both candidates hope to address disparities between college experiences among students.

Edward Parker Humphreys (Jesus)


Mountain View

Meet the candidates Edward Parker Humphreys

Despite lacking Ahmed’s experience on CUSU, Parker Humphreys is nonetheless also a highly qualified candidate for the presidency, being a former president of Jesus’ JCR, current CUSU part-time executive on its Union Development Team, and being involved in student activism as CULC co-chair, including helping to launch the Cambridge Living Wage Campaign. This latter experience is likely to give him substantial backing from the student left, as candidate Siyang Wei saw last year. Parker Humphreys has similarly promised to campaign on hot-button issues including fossil fuel divestment and the real living wage.

Parker Humphreys’ campaign has a strong emphasis on student welfare: in a financial sense, such as through promising to improve delays in college hardship funding, and also in working to address student loneliness and workload. As president, Parker Humphreys will focus on a collaborative ‘loneliness strategy’ for CUSU sabbatical officers work on, and to push for students not to have contact hours on Wednesday afternoons so that students could have “time set aside to just relax”.

Shadab Ahmed (Christ’s)


Mountain View

Meet the candidates Shadab Ahmed

Ahmed is current access & funding officer on CUSU and so has a clear advantage in that he understands how CUSU works from the inside. He will be running on a platform of continuity, arguing that “continuity and experience are a lot more powerful than people might think” and promises to “hit the ground running straight away”. Although current CUSU President Evie Aspinall won on a platform of changing CUSU from the outside, Ahmed has said that he “wouldn’t say [he’s] become a caricature of what people think when you say CUSU”.

Ahmed’s background is highly access-focused, having also previously been Access Officer on Christ’s JCR, and this reflects his priorities, which also include support, empowerment and fundraising. In particular, he sees college inequalities as an important issue to address and hopes to increase coordination across colleges. He will also seek to increase engagement with CUSU through working with groups of students who might not feel as represented by CUSU, such as sports teams.

Correction on 28th February 16.30: This article was amended to note that hustings are taking place in the University Centre, not the CUSU lounge

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