Kate Litman, one of two candidates for Women's OfficerBella Peng

Evidence leaked to Varsity has revealed that Kate Litman, one of two candidates in the running for Women’s Officer, violated CUSU election rules by directly messaging a pre-existing campaign group chat for Cambridge Defend Education to request their endorsement last Thursday.

Several days later, on 2nd March, Litman messaged in a Demilitarise Cambridge WhatsApp group when the group was discussing which candidates to endorse, telling the group chat that she had an anti-arms position outlined on her manifesto.

In the Demilitarise chat, she continued: “But [I] will butt out now [because] I appreciate this is not very democratic”.

CDE later decided not to endorse either candidate, while Demilitarise Cambridge endorsed Litman, posting on Facebook several hours after she messaged the chat clarifying her position.

A complaint concerning Litman’s actions was brought to CUSU’s Elections Committee yesterday.

In a statement to Varsity, a committee member stated that they found Litman to have violated section 3.2 of CUSU’s election rules by messaging the CDE group chat, and has been issued an “Informal Warning” as a result.

However, they decided not to sanction Litman in response to her actions in the Demilitarise Cambridge group chat.

Section 3.2 states that the “use of pre-existing email lists, social media pages or groups for the purpose of promoting your candidacy is not permitted.” One of the objectives of the rule is to ensure that candidates cannot influence a society’s democratic procedures on which candidates to endorse.

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The Elections Committee did not sanction Litman for messaging the Demilitarise group chat as they considered her message to “simply be a correction of someone else regarding her manifesto stance on demilitarisation, rather than a formal request for endorsement.”

Their decision was also based on the fact that Litman “later excused herself from the discussion”.

According to the Committee, an Informal Warning is a “first stage sanction to allow the candidate to gain a full understanding of the application of the rules.”

Promptly after Litman messaged the CDE group chat to request an endorsement, another member of the group shared the election rules, encouraging all members of the chat to “be aware” of them.

Two days later, a member of a Demilitarise Cambridge Whatsapp group sent a message to the group to determine whether they were “agreed” on not endorsing either candidate for Women’s Officer, as well as several other roles. This was on the grounds, they continued, that “none of them have indicated notable anti-colonial or anti-arms” policies.

Litman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Litman responded to the message: “Hi, Women’s Officer candidate here – I do actually say I support campaigns to divest from both fossil fuels and arms on my manifesto”.

Later that evening, Demilitarise Cambridge announced their endorsement of Litman for Women’s Officer.

In a statement to Varsity, Demilitarise Cambridge defended their endorsement:


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“Demilitarise Cambridge conducted its democratic vote on who to endorse for CUSU elections on a platform separate from the WhatsApp group in question, without any input from candidates. Kate’s message on the group merely sought to clarify the contents of her manifesto: she neither promoted her candidacy nor requested an endorsement. We stand by our decision about which candidates to endorse and the integrity of the process by which it was reached.”

CDE did not endorse either candidate for the role, but did not suggest that this was due to Litman’s actions. They told Varsity:

“CDE decided which candidates to endorse for CUSU elections at a meeting to which our members were invited, and which candidates were asked not to attend. There was a healthy and robust discussion between several attendees regarding whether we should support Kate or Finley for the position of Women’s Officer. All present agreed that both are brilliant candidates, but we could not reach a consensus in favour of one particular candidate.”

According to the Elections Committee, Informal Warnings do not “warrant public notification”.

The complaint and subsequent warning were only revealed in response to a Varsity comment request, as informal warnings are not “normally... divulged to the student press”, and will not be published through CUSU’s social media channels.

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