By Jack Taylor and Lydia Blundell
Voter turnout dropped to just 14% in the 2019/20 Durham Students’ Union Officer elections.
3,101 students voted, out of a possible 21,867. Voter turnout is down from 15.2% last year, and 24.7% in 2017.
Kate McIntosh was elected SU President, Amelia McLoughlan as Welfare & Liberation Officer and Jess Dunning as Opportunities Officer in a results ceremony in the DSU last night.
David Evans was re-elected as Postgraduate Academic Officer with 1727 votes and Sam Johnson-Audini was elected as Undergraduate Academic Officer with 1367 votes after the 2nd round.
Jess Madden, Tom Pymer, Poppy Azmi and Amie Key were all also elected as SU Student Trustees.
I’m so excited we’ve elected someone who stood on a platform of talking about things like direct action – this is going to be such a big year and I am really excited
McIntosh, who ran unopposed and won with 2211 votes, said in her acceptance speech “I’m so excited we’ve elected someone who stood on a platform of talking about things like direct action – this is going to be such a big year and I am really excited”.
The night also saw the culmination of the Students Union’s initiative to increase voter turnout: the college with the highest turnout won a visit from two alpacas.
Trevelyan College won the prize, with 43.66% total turnout. Cranmer Hall, part of St. John’s college formed around 100 years ago as a place for evangelical Anglicans to train to be ordained ministers, also won a visit from two alpacas.
The Ruling Officer for the election announced on the night that a decision had been made that, despite Cranmer’s over 50% turnout, both colleges were to receive the coveted prize.
Nat Kunin, Trevelyan College’s SU Representative, told Palatinate: “I was absolutely blown away by the level of support this election received, especially among the freshers.
“The SU can often suffer from a major apathy problem, so to have our voter turnout top 40% when overall turnout didn’t even hit 15% was brilliant. It’s mainly a testament to the community spirit at Trevs and shows that people from all year groups can really come together to get something fun for the whole community”.
These proposals included the removal of ‘unnecessary gendered language’, adding the Chair of DUCK to the board of Trustees and increasing the percentage of votes needed to remove a Trustee.
The referendum needed 67% of the votes to be in favour of the changes. Instead, 65% of the 1544 voters who didn’t abstain backed the changes, meaning the proposals were not accepted.
Note: Since publication, the DSU has corrected its voter turnout statistics to reflect an actual turnout of 15.2, higher than last year’s turnout. In a statement on their website, Durham Student Union explained that the different percentages were due to “inaccuracies in the University’s data (additional student types, students who haven’t been expired etc.)”
Photograph: Maddie Flisher
Graphics: Durham Students’ Union