Trevelyan election sparks social media row


by Matthew Hogarth

The one remaining candidate in the Trevelyan college presidential election, Adam Thompson, has been elected with an overwhelming majority of the vote.

The result comes after a controversial campaign, in which his opponent, Jeremiah Riad, was disqualified due to an “unofficial” social media campaign.

Thompson received a 72% of the vote, whilst 28% voted to re-run the election.

The election saw a significant turn out, particularly compared with those of recent years, of 250 students, perhaps owing to the controversy.

The renewed interest in college politics also fuelled a heated debate in last Sunday’s Junior Common Room (JCR) meeting over the current ban on the use of internet campaigning in JCR elections.

A proposed motion argued that the use of internet campaigning was a necessity, given the “limited participation in Trevelyan College elections and the JCR in general.”

The proposal stated the belief that “democracy is dependent on an informed and interested electorate.”

Those in favour of the motion wish to see the introduction of more accessible election campaigns, pointing to the fact that many other colleges and the DSU elections utilise social networking.

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However, several members of the JCR raised concerns about the draft motion, which provided no obvious regulation of such campaigns.

Many fear that social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, could be used for negative campaigning and spamming, and that if this did take place the College officers would be unable to police the activity under University legislation alone.

Despite this, those in favour of use of social media claim that it is critical in getting people involved with college politics.

One college that already makes use of social media is Collingwood. President defended its usage, calling online campaigning “a creative way through which people can express their personality, ides and their dedication and enthusiasm.”

When asked about the difficulties encountered with policing such an election, he revealed that campaigns on the whole did not require policing.

Harry argues that using an online campaign in an underhand way reflects “upon the [candidate’s] character as being something undesirable or malicious”, rather than damaging the opponent’s reputation.

Although many support the underlying principle of encouraging further participation in the JCR, those present in the meeting seemed highly reluctant to pass the motion in its current form.

As a result, the meeting voted to send the issue to an open committee, who will present a revised motion at the next JCR meeting.



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