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‘Big plans for Edinburgh’ say new Liberation Officers

On 12 March the results of the Students’ Association elections were announced. Although usually taking place in the Teviot Debating Hall, this year the results ceremony was held on Microsoft Teams due to coronavirus restrictions.

Among the plethora of positions up for election were the five Liberation Officer roles, which represent marginalised communities on campus, namely: Black Minority Ethnic students, LGBT+ students, disabled students, women students, and trans and non-binary students. This year the race for BME Officer was particularly competitive, with nine students competing for the role.

Ultimately, Samantha Likonde, a co-founder of the BlackED Movement and Vice President of the African Caribbean Society, was elected to the position.

During the campaign Likonde promised to improve racial literacy on campus, diversify the counselling service, and implement a system to allow students to see how the University of Edinburgh handles issues of racial injustice.

“I am so happy and thankful for the results of the election,” Likonde told The Student, “I commend and appreciate everyone who ran for the position…and I am excited to work with them in the future as I believe we all have big plans for Edinburgh.”

Also keen to pay tribute to her election opponent was George Ross, who was re-elected as LGBT+ Officer for a second term:

“The other candidate had really fab ideas and [I] thought they might win,” she said.

Ross has promised to prioritise LGBTQ+ mental health, enlarge the scope of the university’s safe space policy, and make period products available in all toilets in the main library, the King’s Buildings, and Easter Bush.

Another hotly contested race was that for Disabled Students’ Officer, which had five students competing for it.

Commenting on the high number of candidates for the position, the victorious candidate and new Disabled Students’ Officer Mia Nicole Davies told The Student they are “so proud of our entire community- five of us running is a big increase from last year and I’m so inspired by everyone’s campaigns.”

They are looking forward “to hav[ing] the opportunity to really put pressure on the university to finally give us the accessibility we deserve!”.

Meanwhile, the position of Women’s Officer was won by Mukai Chigumba, President of the African Caribbean Society and, like Likonde, a co-founder of the BlackED Movement.

Chigumba structured her campaign pledges around the memorable acronym R.E.S.P.E.C.T, with each letter representing a promise. ‘R’ stands for “re-naming 40 George Square after a woman of colour”, according to her manifesto.

Finally, Jaime Prada was elected unopposed as Trans and Non-Binary Officer, becoming the first non-binary person to hold the position. “I am honoured to be the first non-binary person elected to this office,” Prada said.

“There is much yet to be done to ensure that our campus is a safe space for trans and non-binary students. Ensuring our wellbeing doesn’t just mean caring about our inclusion in uni life…It requires that our university celebrates our achievements. I am exhilarated to start working with the rest of the candidates and begin to push some much needed change forward!”

Image: Candidate photos via eusa.ed.ac.uk