YESTERDAY IN HUSTINGS candidates for LGBT Officer, School of Management Officer, Environment and Welfare Officer, Women’s Liberation Officer and Council answered questions, some better than others.
The Environment and Welfare Officer position was where the evening really begun, with the LGBT Officer role only having one candidate, Taz Gibbins-Klein, and the School of Management hustings being split into two because one of the candidates was late.
Zakerias Haileselassie and Rosemary Ellingham are both currently part-time officers and played upon this experience. Haileselassie was slower to warm up than expected, with him committing the cardinal sin of reading off his manifesto in his opening speech but once the questions started he used his incredible oratory skills which would usually destroy any other candidate. Ellingham, though, proved an equal match with no clear victor.
Their roles as either Black and Minority Ethnic Students Officer – Mr Haileselassie – or as LGBT Officer – Miss Ellingham – did begin to make the debate somewhat polarised. At points it seemed like they were just expressing what they have done leaving a huge gulf where they could have explored what they want to do in the role, something which when they did do they both did on a far better scale than any of the candidates of the evening by some margin.
Then the potential Women’s and Liberation Officer. Current officer, Steffy Bechelet, against Diko Blackings and Samayya Afzal.
This debate followed a similar trend of clichéd questions that anyone could have written. But there were some that were suspiciously written, almost as if they were planted. For instance, a 24 hour hotline question which seemed suspiciously like it is central to Miss Blackings’ campaign and was by far the best answer she gave all evening. I’m sure it’s just a pure coincidence that this question came up, though.
Miss Bechelet was the surprise winner of the evening. Past public speaking engagements have proved to get the better but it seems when the pressure is on she is a capable performer and the only candidate with perfectly timed and performed opening and summation speeches. It wasn’t the evening for Miss Afzal, though, who didn’t seem to be able to match the other candidates strong performances.
The cringe-induced bloodbath of the evening came with, as you would expect, with the nominees for Council Lay-member. A role that has historically been filled with sub-par, wannabe politicians forced into it by their society under the delusion that it expands their influence. Like years gone by, the event failed to disappoint and the candidates were lined up against the wall and committed what would in a functioning democracy be career-suicide.
One question was “who do you want to represent?” which should illicit a rather obvious response. Everyone wants to, shockingly, represent everyone. One candidate, though, must have been so startled by the flash of the newspapers camera that they forgot where they were and started talking about events that they want to hold.
“I want to hold tailor made events, not just for, but for like everyone even post-grads and errm, international students”, one candidate drivelled on about … perhaps it should be worth informing her that the Media and Entertainments Officer hustings were yesterday.
The repetitive drivel continued with one candidate answering and then the majority of other candidates parroting what was just said. “Buzzword, buzzword, students, buzzword, vote for me” was the formula of the day.
The public humiliation only got worse when the comparatively difficult questions were asked. Firstly, how would they reform council? The first person declared that she alone could make it more efficient, and then mumbled about making more publicity for council. Guess what the next answer was. “I’d like to … can you repeat the question … I’d like to make people more aware of what the council is wand what we can actually do for students on council”. And then the same. It went on. Most of the panel who will become your councillors fail to understand the conversation that has gone on in council regarding reforms, no candidate with a clear plan and about two candidates who have the ability to act properly within council.
In the same barrage of questions, one about how to increase the transparency of council. One candidate didn’t understand what transparency meant. A majority of the others ignored what was said and answered their own questions with only one expressing how maybe the union should release the minutes publicly, something they have failed to do for the past year.
Laughing at the complete and utter incompetence is a somewhat childish pursuit once you realise these are the people that are meant to be representing you in what is meant to be a legislative body and is part of a mechanism that holds the Sabbatical Officers to account. It’s completely outrageous that two candidates completely failed to submit a manifesto and is perhaps more egregious that they are allowed to continue in the election.
Hustings, historically known for its coma-inducing nature, became more interesting yesterday. There was more than one candidate in some of the positions, which is always nice for a democracy, and the usual public humiliation of wannabe politicians which always brightens the mood.
Today candidates for NUS delegate, Community Engagement Officer, Disabled Students Officer, International Students Officer, International Students Officer, Academic Affairs Officer and Development and Democracy Officer will be taking selected questions from the floor.