With the snap Assembly Elections fast approaching, you would be forgiven for forgetting that it is also Student Union Officer election period. The nominations have just closed, and candidates have begun announcing their campaigns. The common trend with such elections is that there is a number of current Student Officers that will re-run, either for the same post or a different post (the maximum they can serve is three years). This year is no different, with the first two candidates to announce their campaigns being Stephen McCrystall (current Equality & Diversity Officer) revealing his is running for President, and Jessica Elder (current Welfare Officer) announcing her campaign to remain Welfare Officer.
The role of President is to represent all students on campus and essentially become the face and spokesperson of the SU, so it is quite a responsibility to undertake. Stephen is no stranger to student elections. In the past, he has served as Charity Officer of QUB Law Society and Disability Officer of the SU, and he is the current Equality & Diversity Student Officer. As his role as Equality & Diversity Officer, Stephen has been pushing for the introduction of gender-neutral t
oilets across campus. He has also campaigned for trans rights and awareness. Other campaigns include the Disable the Label Week, which included a number of events to promote Disability awareness, and Online Equality & Diversity Training for Students, which is due to launch on Tuesday. We hope to have Stephen on the show to discuss his campaigns thus far, and what he hopes to do with the role of President. The current President, Seán Fearon, was elected on left-wing policies, with which he has followed through with by initiating an alliance between staff and students. It will be interesting to see if Stephen uses similar language and policies in his material. Keep a lookout for an upcoming manifesto from him. (If anyone is interested in reading more about Stephen’s work as Equality & Diversity Officer, his reports for SU council, which detail his campaigns, can be found here)
Jessica is the current Welfare Officer. Her campaign in 2016 was quite a surprise due to her course of study: Nursing. It is not often that a medical student would be so involved within SU politics. Rather, SU politics was often seen as an area limited largely to students of arts & humanities. Nevertheless, Jessica, who was a self-confessed newbie to SU politics, was successful with her campaign. Many readers will remember her by her viral video, a customised take on Adele’s ‘Hello’. During her time in officer, Jessica has focused on tackle sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. She organised a ‘Consent is Bae’ week, with events surrounding the issue of consent. She has also campaigned for the introduction of a Bystander Intervention Initiative. The position of Welfare Officer is often the most contested position during these elections, so she will most likely have some fellow candidates announcing their campaigns soon. Keep an eye out for a manifesto, and we hope to have an interview with her shortly. (Again, if you are interested in reading more about her time in office, follow this link to read her Council Reports.)