Candidates announced for Postgraduate Academic Officer by-election


The candidates for the by-election for the role of Postgraduate Academic Officer have been announced with six people running for the role, one more candidate than in the SU president elections which took place earlier this year. The by-election comes after incoming PG Officer Cynthia Lawson, who ran unopposed, stepped down after deciding to focus on her upcoming PhD studies.

One candidate in the election is Aditya Lathar, current President of Durham University Indian Society, who came second in the Durham SU president elections after previously running in 2021. He cites his campaign for SU president as the reason for running saying “I am contesting for the position of PG officer in this by-election so that I can be the voice of all those who believed in me and my vision during the SU Presidential Election”.

Former president of Ustinov College PhD student Emily Wilson is also running for the role citing her belief that “postgraduates students are often forgotten about” as the reason she is running. She aims to improve postgraduate participation and experience at the University through a change of what she sees as a “one-size fits all approach to postgraduate students”.

She is joined by Liyuan Zhu, a Master’s student in Data Sciences who said she wanted Durham to be “among the best places for a postgrad to study” through her main focus of introducing new regulations “underpinning safe, equal and fair participation”. Ms Zhu has experience holding “various SU posts as an undergrad”  along with her advocacy for students’ rights and social equality.

The remaining three candidates are Yan Peng a visiting Management and Marketing PhD student who wants to make Durham a place “that offers knowledge, opportunity, and freedom of soul to all students”. She cites her experience as the vice-president of the postgraduate association in charge of the doctoral affairs in the School of Management, Xiamen University gives her insight into the “needs and aspirations of” postgraduates.

The election will take place between the 26th and 28th of July

She is joined by Zijian Zhao a Data Science masters student who wants to “encourage more postgraduate students to join societies or groups” by increasing collaboration, inspired by his own experience as an international postgraduate student and his struggles as he “tried to integrate into UK societies”.

The final student running is PhD student Keerthi Sudhakar Vasishta who believes that he has “small ideas that can make big changes to the quality of students’ lives in the PG community at Durham”, something inspired by his previous experiences in “different student communities” and “jobs (done) in the real world” which means he is “focused on practical solutions”.

In a post on Instagram Durham Students Union said the candidates “want(ed) to help shape postgraduate experience next term”. They went on to say “we want to thank each of the candidates who have put themselves forward in this year’s by-election”

The Durham Student Union previously described the role of PG officer as a “year (of) being a leader of change”, with the role representing “postgraduate students’ academic interests, fighting to improve the postgraduate participation and experience, and liaising with the University to ensure postgraduate students have the best experience at Durham”

Whoever is elected will join fellow incoming officers Joe McGarry (SU President), Laura Curran (Welfare & Liberation Officer), Joshua Freestone (Undergraduate Academic Officer) and Jack Ballingham (returning for his second year as Opportunities Officer).  

Further information about all candidates can be found here. Voting begins at 8:00 on the 26th of July and will run until 17:00 on the 28th of July, with results expected on the same day. 

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