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EUSA by-elections: ‘This is a really open environment’

ByGavin Dewar

Sep 23, 2014
image courtesy of EUSA

Nominations have opened in Edinburgh University Student Association’s (EUSA’s) first semester by-election.

From September 15 to 25, University of Edinburgh students have the opportunity to stand for one of 52 available posts in EUSA.

Briana Pegado, EUSA president, spoke to The Student about the importance of EUSA, student politics, and the by-election. She said: “The most important thing is that I hope students and everyone start to realise their own individual power.”

The majority of the available positions are school vice-convenor roles. Vice-convenors assist in the establishment and running of School Councils and campaign for change in the way the university’s schools are run.

Convenor, trading committee member and campaign organiser positions are also available.

EUSA is also looking for a Womens’ Liberation convenor to take the lead on issues that affect women, as well as a Disability and Mental Wellbeing Convenor to take on issues that affect disabled students at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition, more National Union of Student (NUS) representatives are being sought for both the Scottish and UK divisions.

According to Pegado, 41 nominations have already been made.

However, she emphasised that more nominations are needed, particularly in the areas of geoscience, physics and chemistry.

Further, for the first time, students can nominate themselves online.

Pegado said: “The most important thing about this election is anyone can stand, and I think people should realise this is a really open environment.

“If you’re interested even slightly it’s a great experience to have, and just standing itself takes a lot of courage, so I think that that’s a wonderful thing in itself.”

Pegado and the rest of the EUSA leadership tried to make their presence felt recently at ‘Meet EUSA’ events around the University.

Three months into her position at the top of EUSA, Pegado discussed the role of President and the sense of responsibility gained from representing the student body.

“This job is fantastic, and as my predecessors told me, there is nothing to prepare you for it. You are president of a 33,000-member strong organisation that has a huge turnover.”

To future presidents and those standing in the by-elections, she advised: “Always be open to anything: you’re on a constant learning curve. Ask questions.

“Be a big stick and stay true to your values, because people will respect you for that and listen.”

EUSA has struggled to generate enthusiasm and attention in the past. In last year’s by-election, no single poll drew over one thousand, despite an electorate of over 30,000.

Lora Bedford, elected as a Welfare Campaign Organiser at the last election, discussed this issue with The Student.

She said: “I suspect it’s partly a situation similar to general politics where people feel like that very little is changed by the people elected to EUSA.

“This I feel is not entirely fair. I do think that those elected to EUSA manage to achieve very important things but often it is not communicated effectively to the student body.”

Pegado, too, acknowledged the challenge of pushing student politics forward.

She told The Student: “Politics really is for everyone, and the issue with politics in this day and age is that it’s really inaccessible. Everyone has individual power to be political. If you want to stand [in the by-election] it comes down to you and the change that you think you can make, and the only thing that I really want to get across is that EUSA is a change-maker.”


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