Pressure mounts on LUSU over by-election disqualification

Over half of the colleges have spoken out

Following the disqualification of reopen nominations (RON) as a candidate in the recent Lancaster University Students’ Union Presidential by-election, more and more students, societies, JCRs and officers are condemning the actions of LUSU.

After it was revealed the election had only a nine per cent turnout, and the disqualification of the RON Campaign – who branded the election as “illegitimate” – even more pressure is being put on LUSU to reveal which election rules were broken by the RON Campaign in order to trigger their disqualification, and the quieting of many students voices.

Grizedale College was the first to speak out, with this statement released on Saturday 13th June:

Following Grizedale came statements from Pendle, Furness and Cartmel College which also expressed their disapproval with the actions of the Students’ Union, and called on the Union to show more transparency. County College’s statement explained that “serious discussions” were being held around the JCR’s position on the matter.

Since then, Bowland College released the following statement:

LUSU President-elect Oliver Robinson also called on LUSU to be more transparent, and said that the Students’ Union ought to release the full results of the election, in a statement made on Facebook.

Robinson confirmed that he had spoken to the Deputy Returning Officer about the election, stating: “I made two things very clear. Firstly, I would like the breaches of electoral conduct identified and publicised to the general student population, so then we can both know what it is that went wrong, and so that we can be confident in the result of the election.

“Secondly, and most importantly, I would like that the results of the election – without any modification, without any exclusion – are released to the entire student body. These two things are a simple must. If LUSU wants to change, then it must start now.

“I don’t understand why reopen nominations was excluded. I know no more than you do. I think it is only a simple courtesy that we should all be notified.” Robinson concluded by throwing his weight behind the JCRs that have been calling on LUSU to explain themselves.

LUSU’s entire PTO-elect (Part Time Officer) team have also released a statement condemning the Union. The statement reads: “We share many students’ concerns about the outcome of the recent By-Election for LUSU President.

“LUSU’s own Democracy Bylaws (section 2.2) state ‘By principle, all Students’ Union elections shall be: Fair, open, democratic, accessible and transparent.’ The outcome of the election announced yesterday is not transparent as the votes of Students for Reopen Nominations (RON) have been set aside without a full explanation.

“Whilst preserving the confidentiality of students who submitted complaints, we call on the Returning Officer, Deputy Returning Officer and LUSU Elections Sub-Committee to publish details of the upheld complaints which led to the decision to exclude RON votes. Only then can students have confidence that the election result was ‘Fair, open, democratic, accessible and transparent.'”

Callum Slater, Democracy and Finance Officer for County College’s JCR, and also NUS Delegate, released this statement:

Lancaster University Students’ Union and Lancaster University Press Office have both been contacted for comment.