CUSU OfficesLouis Ashworth

The results of the CUSU elections for National Union of Students (NUS) conference delegates have been criticised by a candidate who was not elected despite receiving the most first round votes.  

Peter McLaughlin received 124 first round votes, more than the three delegates who have been elected to join CUSU president Edward Parker Humphreys and and ex-Access and Funding Officer Shadab Ahmed, now a NUS delegate, to attend the upcoming conference, which opens at the end of March.

The three elected delegates Sally Patterson, Stella Swain, and Howard Chae received 84, 53, and 102 votes respectively. 

Chae and McLaughlin could not both be selected as delegates, as NUS rules require CUSU to field a gender-balanced delegation with no more than three men. Only one male delegate could be elected this time as Parker Humphreys and Ahmed have already been confirmed to represent the University. Chae was announced the winner following a “run-off between the two” in the second round.

In a Facebook post, Peter McLaughlin claimed CUSU has no institutionalised procedures to decide how to choose the winning male candidate after the first round of voting, and instead, “made an entirely unannounced, behind-closed-doors decision on how to proceed.” 

Having reached out to CUSU, McLaughlin said they responded had two possible procedures they might have used to choose the candidate and break the tie.

He continues in the post: “However, of the two options  at their disposal, one of them would have certainly elected me (and I believe they know this); the other had, in their mind, at least a chance to have elected my competitor, and depending on how much access elections committee had to the results, they may have even known that my competitor would have won.”

McLaughlin suggested the CUSU elections committee may have known that the procedure that they chose favoured Chae. 

“I do not want to accuse the elections committee of ideological bias. But it is totally unacceptable that they partially knew the outcome of their decision before making it: even if preventing my victory did not enter into their deliberation, the fact that it could have is itself just as bad.”

“This result is totally undemocratic. One committee, without any announcement, had the power to decide that the person who topped the ballot and met the election threshold in the first round should not be elected. This is unacceptable, plain and simple.” 

CUSU have been contacted for comment.


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This election follows an equivalent election in Michaelmas, in which Ahmed was the only candidate amongst five who received a greater number of votes than the ‘Re-Open Nominations’ ballot option, leaving 4 spaces open.

The National Union of Students is an organisation that aims to “promote, defend and extend the rights of students.” The annual conference is an opportunity to “build campaigns and to set the overall direction of NUS UK.”

The NUS also holds a Liberation Conference in May, at which delegates for the NUS Liberation Campaigns lobby to “make Further and Higher Education more inclusive and accessible;” the elections for the Liberation Conference were also held this week.

Abdullah Hared was elected as the delegate for the BME liberation campaign, receiving 105 votes; Alessandro Ceccarelli was elected as the delegate for the LGBT+ liberation campaign, receiving 136 votes; and Ali Hyde was elected as the delegate for the NUS trans students Liberation campaign, receiving 96 votes.

Editor's Note: NUS delegate Howard Chae is a member of the Varsity news team. He played no role in the writing or editing of this article