We’re aware that many students were disappointed not to see a case for the No side in the referendum on the reading week/mid-term break until Wednesday, and are concerned that this could undermine trust in the outcome of the ballot. We wanted to explain what we’ve done so far in order to ensure that the referendum is conducted fairly.
SU Elections and Referenda are conducted by the Democracy Committee. This is a group of students separate from the sabbatical team who are elected to lead the SU’s democratic processes, and to do so independently from the day-to-day running of the SU. The Democracy Committee appoints an official Yes and No campaign in the referendum based on an open application process advertised via an all student email, who are then both given an opportunity to make their case to voters on the SU website, and access to a £100 budget for campaigning. The Democracy Committee does not get involved in making the case for each side, but we are responsible for providing equal opportunities for campaigns to do so.
For this referendum we received more applications to lead the Yes campaign than the No campaign, and have seen significantly more activity from the Yes team. We’ve therefore taken extra steps to try to recruit No campaigners, including additional social media posts and emails, and personal requests to those who have publicly opposed the reading week/mid-term break.
That’s not to say that the way we have engaged students in the referendum is perfect; we’ve taken on board the points students have made about how we could have done more to ensure every student knew about the opportunity to get involved and will strive to do better in the future and pass on what we’ve learnt to future Committees. However, we are confident that the referendum has been conducted fairly and we have faith in its results as an expression of student opinion on this important issue.