Ash Ringhus is running unopposed for President of the Glasgow University Union (GUU), following the late dropout of his only competitor, Blair Lockwood.
While Ringhus' manifesto offers few revolutionary ideas, several reasonable and highly positive proposals do stand out; increased support for mental health issues, more sexual violence prevention training, and a new identity for The Well at Hive. Achievable and admirable proposals, if lacking in detail and originality.
Ringhus cites his experiences leading the PR Team as a Present Student Member (PSM) last year as a good base of experience for expanding the GUU’s outreach and in rolling out his proposed facelift for The Well. He says his time leading the PR Team and being Vice President of the Law Society gives him good leadership experience.
With regards to sexual violence prevention training, he plans to maintain GUU’s record of providing the training to all board members and freshers' helpers. He said he would be open to making the training available to other members as well which would be an excellent step forward.
When questioned about the three non-student trustee positions which have been held by the same people, Davinder Bedi, Stephen White, and Gavin Muir, for more than five years, Ringhus described them as an “amazing resource for the union”, praising them for providing “continuity” as there is “so much change in the student board." Ringhus seems not to think the lingering influence of these select trustees, without change, was in any way problematic.
Ringhus also commented on the large number of uncontested positions at the GUU, blaming the lack of applicants on the positions not being sabbatical, saying he does not believe that it has anything to do with “people being too intimidated to run”. Equally, he does not intend to lobby for this as a sabbatical position. If he were instated as President, Ringhus said he would do work to “advertise the benefits of membership… and how to get involved in the union”, continuing to say the best way of doing that is by being on the board.
When asked about whether the disproportionate number of men running for positions (18 men to 9 women, of which only three of those women are running for positions above PSM) was a problem, Ringhus made a series of somewhat incoherent claims: “Eh, I don’t agree that there’s a problem... I definitely don’t feel they don’t feel welcome to run for any higher positions, it’s just that most of them graduate, apart from the ones that stay on.” Whilst we at The Glasgow Guardian are believers in democracy, we also believe in the proportional representation of groups other than white males, which the GUU is undeniably lacking in.
Ringhus broadly seems to have good ideas for improving the union, but is the latest in a long line of people who refuse to properly address the union's well known problem with gender equality. New campaigns, training and renovations are worthy causes, but a President so dismissive of these serious issues makes for a questionable candidate. However, given that the position is once again uncontested, and the GUU have yet to instate a "re-open nominations" option, the membership have no choice in the matter.
[Edit: This piece has been edited to reflect that there are three women running for positions above PSM, not two as was originally reported.]
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