Art School students disenfranchised in GUSA elections


Oliver Milne

Students from the Glasgow School of Art have been turned away from voting in Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) elections. This comes despite Art School students being allowed to vote in previous years, and presidential candidate Chris Millar planning in his manifesto to canvass those students.

The decision comes as the result of a clause in the membership section of GUSA’s constitution which reads:

Membership shall apply to all those registered students of the University of Glasgow who have paid their subscription to the Sports and Recreation Service.

GUSA President Leo Howes told Guardian that this meant that the eligibility of students from the Art School to vote in these elections depended on the course the students were studying:

It basically comes down to if they have a University of Glasgow matriculation card or not. So some students who study on courses co-delivered between Glasgow and the School of Art would count as a Glasgow University student for GUSA membership.

However, Guardian spoke to a number of students from the GSA who don’t study on a co-delivered course who said they had voted in previous years. They all said they thought it suspicious they were turned down in year when GUSA and SRS are discussing limiting the number of GSA students who would be eligible to use Glasgow’s sporting services.

A third year Visual Communication student at the GSA, who wished to remain anonymous but showed us his GSA matric card, said:

I’ve voted in the past two years and it’s only this year when one of the Presidential candidates, whose not being backed by the GUSA establishment, raises the issues that effect the GSA that we get turned away at the door. That doesn’t seem right.

Howes sought to clarify GUSA’s position:

The clause has aways been in our constitution but perhaps in previous years there has been confusion or something that perhaps nobody really clarified in the last few years. As soon as we became aware of it we decided that we needed to clarify the process for this year.

He also addressed the idea that his early support of presidential candidate Steph Collins had affected GUSA’s decision as her opponent Chris Millar had specifically sought to canvass students from the GSA in his manifesto:

I obviously put out a statement saying that I believed one candidate was better for the job, because of that I have had very little to do with the elections outside of chairing the hustings. It is actually a neutral member of staff who is responsible for running the elections.

Glasgow School of Art Student Association president, Sinead Dunn, told Guardian that she had spoken to students from the GSA who technically shouldn’t have been able to vote who had been able to cast a ballot and others who had been turned away at the door:

I think it is strange that if students were eligible to vote in previous years, by convention rather than regulation, that this is happening now and it needs to be seriously looked at.

Polls close today at 6pm for GUSA elections, with the results being announced later this evening.