Students' Union Election Sees Record Vote
With the general election just around the corner, Cornwall College Students' Union (CCSU) has been staging its own elections, with voting up a massive 152 per cent on last year.
The process began in February when students had two weeks to enter nominations for Executive Officer positions available on Union committees at each of Cornwall College’s seven campuses in Camborne, Newquay, Saltash and St Austell, as well as Duchy College in Stoke Climsland and Rosewarne, and Falmouth Marine School, as well as the coveted role of Student Union President. Candidates had to be seconded by five other students and submit a manifesto outlining their aims for the next year.
Nominees then had ten days to encourage their peers to vote for them before polling week when the candidates spent their time campaigning against each other to win their desired role.
9,235 votes were cast by 1,641 students, making this a record-breaking year. Last year 880 students voted, casting 2,779 votes. Upcoming local elections, due to be held on 6th May, and the all important general election are thought to have played a part in encouraging students to vote.
Ben Rowswell, Student Liaison Manager and the CCSU election’s Returning Officer, said: “Some students are well aware of a general election taking place this year and are keen to participate in a democratic process, for others the fun and vibrant atmosphere that is created by the Students’ Union election has been an introduction to the voting process for the first time.
“Cornwall College is unique in having a Student Liaison Team that offer support and guidance throughout the election week and, as a result, has achieved national recognition for leading the learner voice.
“I have no doubt that the high profile that the Students’ Union election has achieved across the county will encourage the students who are old enough to continue to have their say in local elections as well as the forthcoming general election this year.”
Votes were counted in the week following the polling by the Returning Officer, with support from a National Union of Students (NUS) representative.
Results were announced at midday on Friday 26th March on the CCSU website, with successful candidates having been contacted and congratulated beforehand.
The Union’s only paid role, Student Union President, was successfully defended by current President Toni Pearce, 19, from Camborne, who will continue the position for the 2010/11 academic year. In the last year Toni has successfully organised and run the class representative system, run Fairtrade and Amnesty International campaigns, established better links with undergraduate students and work-based learners, lobbied local MPs to support the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), campaigned nationally to defend EMA and the limit on Higher Education fees, rewritten the rules for the Union making it the best-funded Further Education Student Union in the UK, and been elected onto the NUS National Executive Committee.
Toni said: “Electing the Executive Officers of the Students’ Union gives the student body the opportunity to fully engage in the democratic processes of the Union and the ability to hold their elected officers to account for their work in the year ahead.
“Having a democratically elected executive team lays the foundations for a strong, successful Union that has a true mandate to effectively represent all aspects of the student body. The experience of standing in an election is a unique one that encourages candidates to think about their own strengths, abilities and motivations for being an officer of the Students’ Union.”
Non-paid roles up for the vote on each campus included chairperson, vice-chairperson, entertainment co-ordinator, diversity officer, treasurer, secretary, and non-portfolio officer. For the first time the role of sustainability officer was contested, created to work alongside the College’s own sustainability officer to help minimize the Union’s impact on the environment.
At Camborne, the role of chairperson went to Jessica Fewkes, 16, from Camborne. She said: “Representing the College means I can put forward individual views of the students in order to give them the best working environment possible, where they can feel comfortable and supported by their peers and staff around them.”
Other roles were claimed by Alison Roberts (vice-chairperson), 18, from Camborne, Lisa Haydney (treasurer), 17, from Helston, Ryan Burrell (diversity officer), 16, from Redruth, Gemma Pett (sustainability officer), 17, from Helston, Jessica Thomas (entertainments co-ordinator), 17, from Camborne, and Danny Williams (non-portfolio), 18, from Redruth.
At Newquay, Aimee Littlechild, 20, from Bognor Regis but living in Newquay, will take on the role of chairperson. She said: “I am bubbly, loud and definitely not afraid to stand up for what I believe in! As a typical student, I am constantly strapped for cash but I am good at managing what I do have.”
Other roles went to Matthew Dougal (treasurer), 19, Rebecca Edginton (diversity officer), 18, Anthony Hills (entertainment co-ordinator), 22, and Connie Land (non-portfolio), 19.
At Saltash, Kyle Hendra, 18, from Torpoint, is to become chairperson. He said: I will make Cornwall College fun for its students and I will get things done and be the student voice.”
In other roles are Rosie Sutton (secretary), 16, from Saltash, Liam Moore (diversity officer), 18, from Plymouth, and Kira Bacon (entertainments co-ordinator), 18, from Plymouth.
At St Austell, the role of chairperson went to Rachel Allen, 16, from St Austell. She said: “My idea is to do the utmost, work my hardest and help achieve as much as possible for the students here at St Austell. I’m a laid back but motivated person with a love for people. I’d like to be chairperson with the intent of helping bring about the changes that our generation will make to our society’s future, to have our voices heard.”
Other roles were claimed by Paige Trethewey (vice-chairperson), 16, from St Austell, Lauren Porter (treasurer), 17, from Camelford, Lauren Byrne (secretary), 17, from St Austell, Vivianna Rocha (diversity officer), 17, from St Austell, Miles Middleton (sustainability officer), 17, from St Stephens, and Grace Alderman (entertainments co-ordinator), 16, from Lostwithiel.
At Duchy College Stoke Climsland the role of chairperson went to Darren Lake, 18, from Tavistock. He said: “I am very passionate about college and student life and want to look back and say my college days were the best days of my life. I will listen to the voices of the students, hearing their opinions and what they want and make the College a better and safer environment for everyone. As I am a good listener I will play an active role and make a continuous presence on the frontline of the student community.”
Other roles went to Sian-Elizabeth Puckey-Studds (entertainments co-ordinator), 17, from Looe, and Aaron Tharme (non-portfolio), 17, from Launceston.
At Duchy College Rosewarne the role of chairperson went to James Wardley, 17, from Redruth. He said: “I would like to be the voice of the students and make sure that people hear their views and opinions and take action upon them.”
Other roles went to Matthew Head (vice-chairperson), 16, from Redruth, Dean King (treasurer), 18, from Camborne, and Stuart Alston (entertainments co-ordinator), 19, from Camborne.
At Falmouth Marine School, Toby Hale, 18, from Pembrokeshire but living in Falmouth, was named chairperson. He said: “I believe that it is really important that you have fun and make the most of your time as a student. I am passionate about what I do. I have great communication skills and I will keep students informed with regard to what is changing and going on at the College. With the combined help of the Union I can guarantee that the students’ time at Falmouth will be fun and memorable.”
Other roles were taken by Dan Sheridan (vice-chairperson), 20, living in Redruth, James Connolly (diversity officer), 21, living in Penryn, Katie Sambrook (secretary), 31, living in Penryn, and Naomi Harris (entertainments co-ordinator), 17.
The Student Union works with Cornwall College to improve the student experience and organise student-led campaigns, parties and charity fundraising, as well as trips and activities.
Dave Linnell OBE, Principal of Cornwall College, said: “We work very closely with CCSU to make the student experience the best it can be. Our students are lucky to be a part of one of the country’s most successful Student Unions in a further education college. The annual elections are a vital part of the Union’s remit, giving students a chance to have their say in who they want to represent them. Congratulations to all who took part.”
All successful candidates will take over from their predecessors on 1st July, before which time they will have the opportunity to discuss their new roles with the current officers at the Students’ Union Annual General Meeting.
For more information on Cornwall College Students’ Union please visit www.cornwallstudents.org