New UCLU Officer under fire over alleged voting coercion

His behaviour was described as ‘threatening’

Students, who have asked to remain anonymous, have told The Tab how Tayyab Shafiq – then standing for co-sustainability officer – and his campaign team pressured them into voting for him in the Union Elections when they went canvassing around Ramsay Hall on the afternoon of Friday the 26th of February.

This has left some students with a sour taste in their mouth, with one student telling The Tab that “it made me not want to care about Union politics.”

Two students in London Block recounted what happened when they say that Tayyab personally canvassed at their door:

Student A: “[Tayyab Shafiq] knocked on my door asking if I’d vote for him, I said that I’d do it later but he wouldn’t go away saying it would only take a minute. I said ‘no’ and closed the door but he followed me in uninvited, he sat at my desk and grabbed my laptop.

“I felt threatened,  he come into my room uninvited and was being very forceful – I’m quite glad my friend was in the room to be honest.”

Student B: “He asked if I would also vote for him, I said I’d do it later when I had all the details but he wouldn’t go so I logged into vote for him just so he would leave me alone. However, as soon as I said I’d voted he asked me if I was sure, I said yes but he grabbed the laptop and re-voted. I’d put him as first preference and the other candidate as second preference but when I logged back on I saw that he’d voted for his friend and removed my second preference but he never said what he was doing.

“I’m not surprised though – the Union has got itself a reputation for having dodgy elections.”

Tayyab and his team had been canvassing here

Tayyab and his team had been canvassing at Ramsay Hall

And this was not an isolated incident; other students have come forward complaining about the behaviour of Tayyab Shafiq and his campaign staff.

One student in London Block said that a group of them came into her room, asking to vote saying: “Come on, come on gimme your phone!” Asked how she felt about the behaviour of the team she said that they were “very aggressive” and “they weren’t going to leave until they had your votes.”

Another student, also in London Block said: “I was in my bed asleep and they kept knocking on my door.” After explaining she wasn’t changed, the canvassers said “it’s cool, we’ll wait”, at which point, she went on to say, she felt she “didn’t have a choice” even though they “never made any attempt to explain what it was that we were voting for.”

Tayyab Shafiqm, who has since gone on to win the election along with a running mate and will be co-sustainability officer in the next academic year, denies any wrongdoing. He told The Tab the stories seem “impractical and unrealistic” saying that he respected “everyone’s personal life and this is against my sentiments and personality saying something like this.” A member of his campaign team has also said that “no such thing happened during our stay in Ramsay Hall.”

(Twitter)

(Twitter)

Sohail Badat, this year’s Returning Officer released a statement in response to the allegations which The Tab brought to their attention: 

“UCLU is committed to running fair and democratic elections, as such we take complaints very seriously.  Our Bye-Laws which govern our elections provide for complaints to be made to me so long as these are received no later than one hour after the close of voting.  During the recent elections, I did not receive any complaints in relation to the conduct outlined here.  It is unfortunate that these allegations of misconduct were not brought to my attention during the elections.  I would encourage students who feel “threatened” to report this to the relevant authorities as and when this happens.”

If you feel like you were in anyway coerced, pestered, misled or bullied into voting for any candidate in this years Union elections then please contact us by sending an email to [email protected]

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