Highest turnout in five years for SRC elections

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Anna Murray and Sarah Smith

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) elections attracted the highest turnout in five years, after more than 2000 students cast their votes online.

The elections on March 3 and 4 saw seventeen students vying for the four positions on the SRC Executive and eighteen students standing for ten of the seventeen academic convenor and welfare and equal opportunities officer positions.

2073 people voted in the presidential election, in which Tommy Gore was declared the victor after winning 944 votes in the second round, defeating fellow candidates Sophie Hall and Philip Neal.

Tuula Eriksson was elected Vice President (Learning and Development), with 718 votes in the final round and the position of VP (Media and Communications) was won by Luke Winter, who received 759 votes in the final round. Fraser Sutherland secured the position of VP (Student Support) with 721 votes.

At the Heckling Meeting on March 2, Sutherland, in response to a question from Andy Gray, of the GUU Debates Society, pledged to donate 32.9 percent of his salary in order to receive only the minimum wage. The four sabbatical officers are paid £15,292 annually, but Sutherland will receive only £10,254.40 before tax, based on the minimum wage for the contracted 34 hours per week over one year.

After his election, Sutherland confirmed to Guardian that he would be standing by this promise. He said: “I will stand by the pledge that I made at the Heckling Meeting with the remainder of the money being put in a trust fund. This trust fund will then be open to students, club and societies of the University to bid into for charitable projects.

“These bids will then be considered by a yet-to-be-formed committee who will establish the benefit of what the individual bids will bring in a charitable form.”

Sutherland also promised that, upon assuming office, he will be focusing on reducing the current waiting times for the counseling services offered by the SRC.

Tommy Gore spoke of his happiness at winning the position of president, a role that he will take over from Laura Laws in July.

He said: “I’m delighted to have been elected as the SRC President, and I’m really looking forward to the challenges in the year ahead, working with what I think will be an excellent SRC Council and Executive team. I’d also like to congratulate Sophie Hall and Philip Neal for fighting excellent campaigns.”

He continued: “There are many big issues on the horizon, such as the challenges of restructuring, and ensuring that the University stick to their word and that it doesn’t harm the student experience at Glasgow.

“I also think we need to ensure that with the closure of Hetherington Research Club some form of provision and accommodation is made for postgraduate, mature and international students.”

The election turnout represents an improvement on recent years, which have seen a much lower level of interest, reflected in both the nominations and the number of voters.

Recent issues affecting the University including the restructure, perceived future cuts in funding, and the closure of the Hetherington Research Club, as well as the large number of candidates, contributed to the rise in interest, as was demonstrated by the subjects discussed at the Heckling Meeting.

Hundreds of students attended to hear candidates argue their platform, with the floor open to questions from students. Attendance was so much higher than expected that the room allocated for the meeting was too small to accommodate the number of students that came along.

With a lack of space and chairs, students were left standing at the back of the room and even in the stairwell in an attempt to hear the candidates. Issues raised in the questions to the candidates included the SRC’s temporary move to Southpark Avenue and Principal Anton Muscatelli’s salary.

Laura Laws, current SRC President, expressed her delight at the election turnout.

She said: “We are really pleased with the turnout at this year’s elections, which was the highest in five years. The general interest in SRC services is higher than ever before and we hope that this will increase further over the coming months.”

Laws also addressed the issue of the overcrowded Williams Room: “It was great to see so many people at the Heckling Meeting on March 2 and we hope to build on this number next year.

“The Williams Room has traditionally been the location for previous meetings but we will be looking at the possibility of using larger lecture theatres next year, given the recent high turnout.”

Despite the relatively high levels of interest, there are still six unfilled positions left on the Council. These will be opened for nominations in the Autumn elections.

A full breakdown of the election results are available here.