Union Councillor positions: How voting works
Union Council is responsible for helping set policy at SUSU and is involved in making important decisions that affect you as students at the University of Southampton. For example, last year Union Council sanctioned a referendum on whether or not SUSU should join the NUS (National Union of Students).
At the end of last year Union Council was reviewed, and as part of this 38 Union Councillor positions were created. It was felt that in previous years some sections of the University were over represented at Union Council and so it did not reflect the true nature and feeling of the entire student body. Therefore, 30 of the positions on Union Council were allocated to 15 clearly defined student groups.
These 15 student groups are:
- Post-graduate taught students
- Post-graduate research students
- Part-time students
- Mature Undergraduate students
- Students with Disabilities
- European students
- International students
- Faculty of Business and Law
- Faculty of Engineering and the Environment
- Faculty of Health Sciences
- Faculty of Humanities
- Faculty of Medicine
- Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences
- Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences
- Faculty of Social and Human Sciences
The Councillors would not be expected to represent the views of the student group that they belong to, but instead base their decisions on their own thoughts and feelings with all students in mind.
How to elect students to each of these sets of two seats
At first glance it might seem quite easy to organise nominated students into the various groups and then hold an election for each set of seats. However, it is not as simple as this due to the fact a nominee could potentially fit into two or more categories, and so be eligible to stand for more than one position.
I believe that the voting process should be as easy for SUSU members to use as possible, and so I proposed that we hold just one election for Union Councillor seats and ask voters to rank the candidates according to their preference. We would then begin the process of allocating positions, starting with the student group that has the fewest nominees. This method was agreed and is being used for the current Union Councillor elections.
You may have noticed that some students have already been declared elected, and this is due to the fact that they fit into student groups that had less than two eligible candidates. This has left 12 candidates contesting positions, three of which are eligible for the two Faculty of Humanities seats with the remaining candidates eligible for the two Faculty of Social and Human Sciences seats.
During the voting count, the top two candidates that fit into each of these two groups will be declared elected. This means that in theory a candidate with less votes than another could be elected because they fit into one of the student group.
This could leave you questioning why all candidates are ranked in a single list and I support this for three reasons. Firstly, it reinforces the fact that Union Councillors are reflective of the whole student body and that we are looking to appoint students from groups with less engagement. Secondly, in future elections there may be more candidates who are eligible for more than one seat, so it is appropriate to keep a consistent method of electing Councillors. Finally, it serves to take away the impression that a Councillor is there to represent their specific student group when they have been elected to reflect the overall student body.
I hope that this gives you a more detailed explanation of the voting process and the reasons behind it.
To have your say in how SUSU operates, get involved and get your vote registered by visiting www.susu.org/vote.