YUSU bosses were left red-faced after their electoral reforms were blocked by a panel of students tasked with ensuring the elections are fair.
Plans to allow YUSU societies, sports clubs and volunteering groups to endorse candidates in this year’s elections were scrapped on Sunday.
An email sent out to all YUSU societies over three hours after online campaigning started, read: “We appreciate that this is an unusually late reversal of our position – endorsements were something we really wanted to have this year and it’s a shame that it won’t be possible.”
The regulations were going to apply only to those running for Full-Time Officer positions.
On January 26, societies were sent an email informing them that they could now officially endorse candidates, but it now appears this was premature as the new voting rules had not been run by the Policy Review Group.
This is a panel of students who serve a variety of functions in YUSU, including approving any changes to the YUSU election rules.
An emergency meeting was called on February 7 to discuss the issue and it was decided to reject the policy.
A statement released by the panel in the wake of the decision said: “The hurried nature through which these controversial changes would have been passed, led us to the conclusion that a far more comprehensive consultation with the student body was needed before the PRG felt comfortable allowing society, sport and volunteering endorsements to occur.
“Whilst we have no reason to believe the bypassing of the PRG was deliberate, it is extremely worrying that the only body which is able to effectively scrutinise decisions made by YUSU was almost completely circumvented in this process.
“We have a duty to ensure that the election rules are open, fair and maximise participation. Due to the many concerns that were raised, and the tight schedule of the rapidly approaching elections, we felt it would have been irresponsible to approve them in such a rushed manner.
“We recommend that society endorsements are looked into further, and the wider student body is properly consulted.”
However a number of amendments were made during the emergency meeting where it was proposed that the policy change should be adopted in its reformed state for the 2017 elections.
Ben Lombardo, Chair of Octopush told York Vision: “While this doesn’t personally affect me, I can imagine some other people are disturbed by this last minute change.”
Grace Lievesley, Chair of York DramaSoc, said: “I personally didn’t agree with endorsing candidates anyway because I was uncomfortable for a committee to choose a candidate to endorse, when that committee comprises of under 10% of the society’s members.
Even though we have the same common interests through our society, we still have different views and opinions and I wouldn’t want to tell anyone who to vote for.
“As for YUSU changing this rule, I’m glad they’ve reconsidered it but don’t understand why it got rushed through and revoked so quickly.
“As a society chair I knew endorsement was something we could do but I had no idea about any rules surrounding it.
“While this doesn’t personally affect me, I can imagine some other people are disturbed by this last minute change. I’ve no idea why the change has been implemented and would like to know what has happened.”