By Jack Taylor
It was announced on Monday that Alastair Sledge, of University College, can now run in the Union President for Michaelmas Term 2019 election, after initially having his campaign ruled as invalid. The election will now be contested between him and Jack Perry, of St. Cuthbert’s Society and RON.
Sledge’s campaign was originally rejected by the Union Rules Committee, as his proposer emailed the Returning Officer four minutes past the 11am deadline.
In a letter to Sledge, the Durham Union Society’s Returning Officer wrote: “Rules Committee met today to scrutinise the nominations received for Michaelmas Presidency 2019. I am afraid to inform you that the Committee rejected your nomination.
“The reason for this was that Mr Samrat Pasriccha had not formally identified himself as your proposer as of the deadline.”
Sledge appealed the decision, resulting in a Rules Committee meeting last Friday. The Committee returned a majority ruling that he should be allowed to stand in the election.
However, the Committee also imposed certain penalties onto Sledge’s campaign, that according to the written record of the meeting he was ‘happy to take’, due to the late email. These include cutting his campaign team down to 15 people, with his opponent remaining at 20, and his original proposer, Samrat Pasriccha, not being allowed to take part in the campaign.
“The Committee also imposed certain penalties onto Sledge’s campaign”
The Durham Union Society’s Election Regulations state: “Candidates shall have a proposer and one seconder who shall be in statu pupillari Members of the Union.”
The hustings, that were originally planned for last Friday, after the ‘Beyond 70: The Future of the NHS Panel Discussion’, were suspended until after the weekend. They were meant to be held on Monday evening, before the ‘DASH Charity Debate’, but instead were pushed to Wednesday night.
The campaign was reopened on Monday at 3pm, and both candidates were added to the ballot. Campaigning from both sides will include Facebook pages, printed leaflets and speeches at the Hustings.
The Durham Union Rules Committee told Palatinate that: “Alastair Sledge’s nomination was incomplete at the close of nominations as the identity and consent of his proposer was unknown and, as there was no precedent for accepting a nomination as valid in those circumstances, he was ruled out of order.
“He then appealed the decision and a majority view emerged on the committee to take the unprecedented step of accepting his nomination, subject to certain penalties, whilst accepting the validity of the original decision. Mr Sledge accepted those penalties as a proportional punishment for his inability to get a completed nomination on time and a condition of his being a candidate.”
This comes after a previously turbulent week for the Durham Union, with various posts on the anonymous submission page ‘Durfess’, after presidential nominations opened on the 26th of January. Some posts were considered harmful to certain members, pictures were posted without those featured permission and others raised concerns about the electoral process and culture.
“That individual was acting against the wishes of the Society and has been reprimanded”
Statement from the Durham Union Society
After reports of threatened legal action, The Union told Palatinate: “As Durfess clarified in one of their posts, one of our members, claiming to represent the DUS, messaged the page with comments which implied an intention to initiate legal action. That individual was acting against the wishes of the Society and has been reprimanded”.
Photograph: Samuel Read