The results of the 2021 Edinburgh University Students’ Association Sabbatical Officer elections are in.
For the second year running, an all-women sabbatical officer team has been elected.
The election results were: Ellen MacRae as President; Réka Siró as Vice President Activities and Services; Beth Simpson as Vice President Community; Tara Gold as Vice President Education; Aisha Janki Akinola as Vice President Welfare.
Ellen Macrae has been re-elected as president and promises to use her past expertise to enhance her leadership in the upcoming year. Her main goals for the year can be summarised into three categories.
The first concerns support for the wellbeing and studies of students. She aims to enhance the student experience through more mental health outreach services; improve student visibility on campus; better child-friendly and accessible spaces and provisions; more laboratory and studio-based skills training; modify future degree classification to acknowledge the impact of Covid-19, and finally guaranteed graduations.
The next category is connectivity. She hopes for a more connected campus and student community. She proposes to bring back buses; improve school representative integration into projects that concern campuses and subject areas; better connect with overseas students, and include student leadership in social injustice and climate emergency campaigns in the community.
Finally, MacRae advocates for better protection offered to student activists and those suffering from financial hardship. To tackle the financial problems, she proposes to improve the accessibility of hardship funding; more technology and WIFI provision to tackle digital poverty, and better support for private student tenants.
On the issue of protecting student activism, her action plan includes creating an activism toolkit, and a more transparent route of communication between the University of Edinburgh and the government.
Most importantly, she wants to create a union of Russell Group student leaders to empower students to make “bigger, true, systematic change”.
Although disappointed, other candidates show large support for the currently elected team and are grateful for the experience of the campaign and their supporters. Alfie Garland commended the efforts of all candidates this year:
“While it was disappointing that we didn’t win, the show of support we received shows there’s a real strength of feeling behind our policies.
“All in all, a fantastic experience and one that I’d encourage any student with an eye for politics or student rights to partake in”.
“Although I didn’t get elected, I had a huge amount of fun and I’ve learned a lot from this campaign.” Tom Ely-Corbett, who came second, on his experience of the election.
Moving on to the elected Vice Presidents. Beth Simpson is elected as the new Vice President community. In the light of celebration, she expresses her admiration for both the student community and the new sabbatical team: “It’s so exciting to see so many students passionate about creating positive change in the community.
“I am really excited to work with such an amazing team. Here’s to an exciting year ahead!”
Tara Gold, who was elected Vice President Education said: “All the other candidates ran great campaigns and should be so proud of their work.
“The campaign process was definitely stressful – and doing everything online was a unique experience! But I’m really excited to get to work at EUSA, and to work with the other new sabbatical officers.
“I think students want to see EUSA advocating for them more strongly within the university and pursue real change, so I hope to work towards achieving that!”
Aisha Janki Akinola, the new Vice President Welfare, expressed her optimism towards the coming year: “This victory isn’t just for me. It is for all the students who have been forgotten and ignored.
“You have given me the microphone. It’s time to use it, make some noise, and speak up until our voices are heard.”
Lastly, Réka Siró, the new Vice President Activities and Services, expressed her views on the challenges of this year’s campaigning process: “I’m still a bit bummed that we didn’t’ get to do much in person outreach on campus. I really enjoyed making videos and campaign pictures and so on, but it was definitely more time consuming than I first anticipated, I think I sat at my laptop for a good ten hours the first day we were allowed to campaign!”
Image: Ellen Macrae