Your guide to the LUSU FTO hustings 2020

Three hours wasted? Maybe

It really is that time of year when everyone starts pretending as though their opinion matters, and self-absorbed individuals decide to start “endorsing” candidates on social media. People use filters on their Facebook profile pictures to show who they’re voting for, and they’ll spew abuse at you if you disagree with them.

The true gem in Lancaster’s crown of election time was obviously the FTO election hustings, that took place on Monday evening. An event that was supposed to take place between 19:30-22:00 ended up starting late, and overrunning by over half an hour. The signs were there. And was the event worth attending? We couldn’t possibly say (no).

But anyway, we thought that everyone would be best served if we compiled all of the information that was thrown around on Monday night, and create a succinct highlights reel from that night. Without further ado, here are our best bits from the LUSU FTO hustings.

The live stream failed

VP Union Development tried to restore order after the live stream failed

Before the hustings had even reached the 10 minute mark, they were hastily brought to a halt – we were later informed that the live stream of the event had crashed. After around 10 minutes of waiting for the matter to be resolved, we were asked to log out of the university Wi-Fi, as apparently that had caused the stream to drop out – not surprisingly, the audience found this to be quite funny. Was this a sign of things to come?

NUS Delegate candidate has banter

Although not an official LUSU FTO role, the candidates for NUS (National Union of Students) Delegate were invited to the hustings, as this is the election period for that post, too. The candidates are aware that this is probably the role that very few people have much of an interest in, however one candidate, Callum Slater, decided that this wouldn’t stop him from being clearly passionate about what he’s standing for. When questioned on the environmental impact of his campaigning (such as posters) he replied with “My posters are actually printed on the back of A Level Maths revision,” and he noted that he would “Probably go quite red [during the hustings] – I’m fine, I’m just ginger.” If nothing else, he’s got a sense of humour!

The other candidate for NUS Delegate, Jack O’Dwyer-Henry (City Councillor) did not attend the hustings, in solidarity with the UCU strikes – which raised eyebrows, as his fellow Labour councillors, Katie Whearty and Oliver Robinson were in attendance; Robinson himself being a candidate in these elections. O’Dwyer-Henry’s speech was read out by hustings Chair, and current VP Union Development, Hannah Prydderch – the speech containing no manifesto pledges, but was seemingly just used to take shots at university management and our Students’ Union.

College Sports being promised a LOT

All candidates for VP Sports were seemingly in love with the college sports system, and they all had experience in organising sporting events, to one degree or another. With the issue of the college netball courts’ removal being raised, and then the individuals were questioned on their ability to coordinate Roses, much of the focus seemed to be on college sport itself. Many individuals at the hustings asked questions about college sports, and seemingly believed that just because a sport is affiliated with the university (i.e. a university sports team, not a college one) then their problems would all be solved. Nothing was said about sports clubs whom already went underrepresented and undervalued, however all candidates did agree that we needed to celebrate our sports in Lancs, and raise the profile of sports at the university.

Unfounded accusations?

No opposition – President George Nuttall

It was all quiet on the Western Front, that is until the candidates for VP Societies and Media began their speeches. One particularly irate candidate, Dominic Casoria, vehemently suggested that SCAN (Student Comment and News) would soon be going out of print. It’s unclear where Mr Casoria received his information, though the rumour mill is certainly giving some pointers. The Tab Lancaster contacted SCAN for comment on the matter, and Editor-in-Chief, Ruth Walbank, said: “I can confirm that this is not true.” It was also fact-checked by the event Chair, at the time. Other candidates for the position defended SCAN and the other student media teams, however when questioned on whether it was fair to weigh student media equally as the other 60+ societies on campus, the candidates struggled to clearly give an answer.

Candidates having a wobble

The highlight of the evening was when Taylor Donoughue-Smith, candidate for VP Societies and Media, decided he’d relocate his chair offstage. Moving closer and closer to the edge of the stage, and after minutes of tension building, Donoughue-Smith finally bit the bullet and fell off the stage. Will people remember his manifesto pledges? Maybe. Will they remember him falling off the stage? Most definitely.

Personal questions?

When it was time for the candidate standing for VP Welfare – Amy Merchant – to be questioned, the Chair had to remind current VP Welfare, Grishma Bijukumar, to remember: “This is student politics, it isn’t personal” when Bijukumar attacked Merchant’s manifesto regarding lack of substance on sexual misconduct; something that this writer found ironic, considering Bijukumar came under fire earlier this year for admitting she was only reviewing the university’s sexual misconduct policy 24 hours before the deadline.

Running unopposed, George Nuttall (President) didn’t have an easy ride on Monday night. One question was shut down by the Chair, regarding allegations of bullying on Nuttall’s part, and his role in the resignation of former VP Activities, Ben Evans. Nuttall’s speech focused on belonging, and being a part of our Union – to which one audience member stated that perhaps the lack of belonging to our Union was his responsibility. Nuttall’s response focused on it being a systemic fault, and not a fault on his part. He did acknowledge that he focused too greatly on the #SaveOurSugar campaign, and not prioritising his 2019 manifesto pledges.

Wholesome content

VP Education Bee Morgan (left) and candidate Tanglewest Douglas (right)

Despite the doom and gloom, there was still some sense of hope left inside the County South lecture theatre by the end of the evening. This was, in part, due to some of the questions that the candidates posed to one another. One such question was posed by Emily Stannard (for VP Societies and Media): “What would you say are the strengths of the other candidates?” which prompted a selection of compliments given through gritted teeth by the others. During the question for VP Union Development, one question asked by Atree Ghosh to Oliver Robinson was: “If elected, what would you take from my manifesto?”

Ultimately, although the evening was three hours of sifting through overly-politicised speeches made by budding career politicians, there was a lot to be listened to. We’ve covered the highlights of the evening, but the candidates’ manifestos can be found here.

Voting is open, and closes on Friday 6th March.