Democratic deficit at the SRC as only 3 of 17 elections are competitive, and 8 positions to remain vacant.
Reflecting a wider trend of uncontested and undercontested elections in students’ unions, only three of the seventeen Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council’s Autumn 2023 elections are set to be competitive.
Following the closing of nominations on Friday 29 September, 8 positions on the Council will remain vacant. In 7 constituencies, only one candidate was nominated, meaning they are likely to be elected unopposed and join the Council.
Only three races will be competitive. In the General Representative contest, 5 students were nominated for four positions, giving voters little choice in picking representatives. The other contests with more than one candidate are for the Postgraduate College of Science and Engineering Convenor post with three candidates, as well as the School of Biodiversity, One Health and Veterinary Medicine Representative, with two students vying for the position.
Many of these races, which are scheduled for 12 October, are only taking place because no one ran for those positions back in the Spring elections. At least one position has remained vacant for three consecutive election cycles.
Of the 33 current council members, only 15 were elected in competitive races. 18 were elected unopposed in uncompetitive races, including the President and one of the Vice-Presidents.
Concerns were raised during the previous election cycle in Spring, where a system failure saw some students being unable to vote using the University’s UofG Life app. The SRC has said these elections saw an increase in voter turnout of 21% over the previous year’s elections, with, overall, 2,674 students casting 10,919 votes. However, no more than 1,000 votes were cast in any individual contest, including those for key sabbatical positions.
The SRC issued the following statement about the ongoing contest:
“Although we had hoped for higher engagement with our available positions this year, we’re looking forward to hearing from our eager candidates and are pleased we have representation for every College in the PG Convenor category as well as a full General Rep team.
“We’re also especially proud of the addition of our new positions to Council this year including the Home Students Officer, who will complete our full Welfare and Equal Opportunities team, increasing our ability to represent UofG students from all walks of life.
“We encourage all students to engage with our Hustings on Wednesday 11th [October] at 6pm from our Facebook page, and vote for their reps on Thursday 12th [October] 9am to 5pm via the UofG Life App or at gla.ac.uk/vote”.
Things are not much better down University Avenue either: representation is in a similarly dire spot at the Glasgow University Union. The only fully contested positions in the Annual Elections back in March were President, Convenor of Libraries, and one of the Present Student Member posts. Two of the three members of the powerful Executive Committee were elected unopposed.
Since then, several resignations on the board forced the GUU to also host Autumn by-elections to fill the newly vacant positions. Nominations for those races are set to open next week, and the election is set for 19 October.
The SRC Autumn elections are scheduled for Thursday 12 October, and polling will be open from 9am until 5pm through the UofG Life app and website.