Cambridge NUS Delegate elections: Who’s who?

What you need to know about each of the students running to be an NUS Delegate, in their own words.

With the Cambridge Student Union elections underway, one of the key positions being voted on is NUS Delegate.

The election, which closes at 5pm today (17/11), will select seven Cambridge students to attend the annual National Union of Students (NUS) conference. Cambridge students can vote here.

The NUS is the representative for Higher and Further Education students across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and engages in lobbying and campaigning on a variety of issues, determined by its student membership.

Cambridge’s seven delegates will attend the NUS conference, where they will act as representatives of the Cambridge SU and its students by voting, debating, and determining policy.

There are 15 students in the running for NUS delegate and here is, according to their manifestos and their responses to the Tab, who they are and why they say you should vote for them:

Eseosa Akojie (she/they)

Eseosa has been a student since 2018, having just finished their MPhil in gender studies, and is the SU’s Women’s Officer. Her priorities include the casualisation and marketisation of education, which she says impacts “us at Cambridge, especially supervising students on precarious contracts.” Eseosa’s manifesto also includes decolonisation, the language of which she says has been commodified and co-opted by “an institution that commissions investigations into its own legacies of slavery without any tangible recommendations to address it.” Eseosa also pledges to “hold the NUS to account over their investigation into claims of antisemitism and their treatment of students in their movement.”

Sarah Anderson

Sarah is a third year Classicist at Fitzwilliam college, whose “previous experience in representing students’ views to committees” includes their roles as Classics Undergraduate Student Rep and Secretary for both the Fitzwilliam JCR and the SU Class Act campaign. Sarah campaigns for an “interconnected approach to issues which affect students’ everyday lives”, including the cost of living crisis, welfare provision, and lecture capture. Sarah’s manifesto also pledges to support reform on “how the NUS is elected and held accountable.”

Sam Carling

(Image credit: Angel Wong)

Sam is a third year Natural Sciences student at Christ’s college who has served as an NUS delegate for the university in the past, and whose experience includes roles as JCR President for Christ’s and a Labour councillor in Cambridge. Sam believes that “we deserve decency and integrity from the NUS leadership team”, and pledges to ensure that “student voices are heard in political decision-making nationally.”

Addressing their experience in local government, Sam claims to have “developed an understanding of how internal government processes work nationally – and therefore have an insight into how best to develop and structure policy to maximise its chances of succeeding.” Sam’s manifesto also highlights their belief that the NUS should remain independent from UCU (University and College Union) strikes: “Staff have their own union to stand up for their interests, and our union needs to stand up for ours in turn by working to mitigate, not worsen, the impact on students.”

Alina Chanysheva

Alina’s manifesto states that, having studied in different countries, they “realised how important it is to listen to your fellow students and understand their needs.” Alina pledges to “attentively hear all your proposals regarding changes that you would like to make to the teaching and running of the courses”, and to “diligently inform you of all the changes that are planned to take place during the period of your studies.” Alina also stresses their commitment to informing students of all “opportunities and events” that they would be aware of as delegate, alongside an interest in “hearing your thoughts about events you would like to be a part of during the upcoming terms.”

Elia Chitwa (they/them)

(Image credit: Elia Chitwa)

Elia, the SU’s current Disabled Students Officer and a former Natural Sciences student, has been involved in student representation for three years, including a past role as President of the LGBT+ Campaign. Of the role they are running for, Elia says: “Having been an NUS Delegate in the past and being extremely disappointed by my experience, I both understand and am deeply critical of the NUS. This means I am well-placed to advocate for much-needed change.”

Elia’s manifesto includes opposition to the marketisation of education which, in their words, means “turning educational institutions into bodies that compete for students to get their money. It turns students into consumers and education into a product.” Elia also believes that “there should be no financial barriers to education”, and says that NUS policy “should ensure actions are being taken immediately to support students [financially] – for example, lobbying the government to ensure students are consistently included in any support packages.”

Hannah Haskel (she/her)

(Image credit: Hannah Gillott)

Hannah is a second year HisPol student at Sidney Sussex, former President of Cambridge University Jewish Society and Egalitarian Officer, and current External Officer and Vice President of her college’s History Society. On her decision to run for the role, Hannah says: “I first decided to run as a delegate because, as a Jewish student, my voice was not being heard. If elected, I will bring my experience of fighting NUS claims of antisemitism from the outside, in, to bring real change.”

Hannah expresses her frustration at NUS policy, and her desire to change it: “I will push for specificity in policy, with particular consideration of Class Act students and students with disablement. It is only through specific policy that we can hope to ensure every student sees material improvement.” Hannah also feels strongly about mental health support, and pledges that, if elected, she would “urge the NUS to lobby universities for adequate funding, provision of preventative and crisis support, and to get rid of the layers of bureaucracy which make accessing help so difficult.”

Katie Heggs

(Image credit: Sam Brittan)

Katie is a second year HisPol student at Churchill college, where they are the JCR’s Access and Education Officer. Katie also works with the feminist charity Our Streets Now, and is the Women and Non-binary officer for the Cambridge University Labour Club. “I spend arguably too much time in and around student politics, so I believe I am switched on to what students want, and how to use our voice as students to get it. If elected I aim to use conference to hold the NUS to account on claims of antisemitism, campus safety and the cost-of-living crisis.”

On the latter topic, Katie believes that the current NUS advice of students writing to their MPs is not enough, and pledges to “push the NUS to work on direct solutions by engaging with universities to consider further rent support and hardship schemes, with particular emphasis on students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.” Katie is also passionate about ensuring campus safety, and promises to advocate policies such as “compulsory workshops and talks around gender-based violence and opening a frank conversation at the conference itself on how to change an issue so entrenched within society.”

Jonathan Heywood

(Image credit: Ama Kotuo)

Jonathan is a third year History student, and the National Secretary of Labour Students. Jonathan highlights their past involvement in “organising students in local elections and with the Labour Party – I want to use that experience as an organiser to push NUS back to basics.”

Jonathan feels strongly about “building institutional links with allied political movements”, especially amidst the cost of living crisis and rising rents, and wants to use their experience with the Labour Party to “facilitate a dialogue”, “pressure for better policy,” and campaign “with Labour to kick the Tories out.” Jonathan wants to ensure that the NUS engages “far more with the Union of Jewish Students going forward,” and believes that the NUS must be managed by “officers fully committed to the rights of Jewish students.” Jonathan believes that “we need a wholesale change [within the Union] to get the representation for all students that we need.”

Rosana-Bristena Ionescu

Bristena is in the third year of a Clinical Neurosciences PhD, and is campaigning for “proactive solidarity and a democratic education.” Bristena believes that “academic institutions have the socially responsive duty of making education accessible to the most vulnerable, while acting as platforms for social and political change in our local and wider communities.” Bristena’s policies include: better access to financial support for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, a decreased waiting time for mental health services, tackling the black student attainment gap, and more infrastructure for disabled people.

They also pledge to pressure the NUS to “team up with ethical organisations in the fight against racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia”, and stand for “a student-centred education that engages, reaches, and supports all our student body.”

Chang Liu

(Image credit: William Shaw)

Chang is the current Chair of the Student Union BME campaign, and describes themselves as “the experienced, reliable, and determined advocate for students.” His three manifesto points are: reform the NUS, put the cost of living crisis on the agenda, and fix the funding gap for healthcare students. Chang says that he has “a good track record on delivering promises I made to students”, and along with the experience and determination needed to make big institutions work for students. He says that the NUS “currently have been only making noise without any substantial progress” regarding the cost of living crisis, and needs to “provide the students with a concrete, realistic, and verifiable action plan.”

Chang also mentions that a third of healthcare professionals quit their jobs between 2020 and 2021, and therefore believes that  “fixing the funding gap for healthcare students is not only important for the students but for everyone’s future.”

Tejal Paliya

(Image credit: Tejal Paliya)

Tejal is a Chemical Engineering student at Emmanuel college, who believes that their experience in school student council and Derby City Youth Council has equipped her with “great time management, leadership, communication and team working skills which will be essential” during their proposed tenure as NUS delegate.

Tejal’s manifesto includes three main points: student health, collaborative events, and accessible helpdesks. Tejal pledges to “create a direct link between the student body and the authorities for the general improvement of our experience here at Cambridge.” This manifesto also promises to “lead by example and be the pacesetter of culture and performance.” Tejal’s manifesto mentions the climate crisis, which they say the NUS can instantly address by improving awareness through “regularly posting content about the crisis and by asking all the universities to source local food.”

Joshan Parmar

Joshan is a Part III Computer Science student, who was JCR President of their college, Fitzwilliam in 2021, a tenure which they say “reformed” the institution – experience which they want to use to “bring the NUS forward.”  Joshan’s manifesto states that “with the recent scandals in NUS it’s clear it needs real reform to ensure it’s a functional, representative organisation for all students.”

Joshan points towards their experience as JCR President, saying that: “As Fitzwilliam JCR President, we made reforms to our structures that made sure elected officers were held accountable.” Joshan describes the NUS Conference as “the primary form of accountability, so attending the conference prepared, with an understanding of what the organisation is currently working on is so important to being able to hold them to account. I’ve got experience doing this.” Joshan’s manifesto also mentions building a “fairer Cambridge”, which they describe as “one where your background is never a barrier to your ability to succeed at this university.”

Rebekah Treganna (she/her)

(Image credit: Isabelle Duffy-Cross)

Rebekah is a second year HSPS student at Murray Edwards College, whose manifesto states her intention to “fight for an NUS which is a real campaigning force for a radical vision of liberatory education.” Rebekah says she is running “to represent students on a platform of strong, social justice values”, and believes that Cambridge deserves “a student movement that is accessible and inclusive.”

Rebekah highlights her experience with groups such as Cambridge Defend Education, Cambridge Real Living Wage Campaign, and the SU Executive Committee, which she believes gives her “the combination of institutional and grassroots campaigning experience to deliver on policies of liberation and equality.” Her manifesto also highlights the need for fossil fuel divestment and fossil free research: “At conference I would support a motion committing the NUS to support the Fossil Free Research Campaign, which would help build the campaign nationally and increase the resources that student campaigners at Cambridge have access to.” Rebekah’s manifesto also includes decolonisation of the curriculum, solidarity with UCU strikes, opposition to worker casualisation, and transparency within the NUS.

Hitesh Mahawar and Kaitlyn Workman are also running in the NUS Delegate election, but did not respond when contacted by The Tab and do not have manifestos publicly available. 

Both the the NUS and the University of Cambridge have been contacted for comment.

Featured image credit: Cambridge SU