York Students' Union Election 2024


A report on the night and announcement of the new Sabbatical Officers

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Image by Nouse

By Charlotte Legrand , Alexandra Pullen and Antonia Shipley

On Friday 22 March 2024, the York Students’ Union election 2024 results were announced in The Lounge, revealing the Sabbatical Officers for the next academic year. This year saw a change to the elections due to the merging of the York Undergraduate Student Union (YUSU) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). Three new roles were introduced as a result of this: Union Affairs Officer, Union Development Officer and Equality and Inclusion Officer.

This year’s turnout was 23.69 percent of voters – significantly higher than the previous year (2023/2024). The atmosphere in The Lounge was bustling and dynamic, with attendees able to purchase exclusive Sabb cocktails.

Matthew Keel from University Radio York and Hannah Bragman from York Student Television were our hosts for this exciting night. They took us through each role, announcing the winners through the Single Transferable Vote system.

The first role to be announced was Academic Officer. The person to take on this role “represents students on issues relating to their course, teaching and learning facilities.” This year, only one candidate was running for the position – Fenella Johnson. Fenella took to the stage with glee, thanking her team and in particular “Katie for the posters”, whilst stating that “RON put up a fight but it wasn’t good enough”, receiving cheers and laughter from the crowd.

Fenella won on the first round of voting, passing the threshold of 864 votes, with an astounding 1561, whilst RON received a rather meagre 167.

Following the announcement of her victory, Nouse asked Fenella ‘How does it feel now that you’ve won?’ to which she replied: “Good! I was so nervous all week because I was like, I can’t lose to RON because I’ll have to move out of York!”

Nouse then asked ‘What point in your manifesto are you most excited about implementing that you have won?’ Fenella replied: “I think the transition and orientation day, and making sure deadlines don’t fall on the same day.”

The second role to be announced was Activities Officer, which involves “supporting and developing engagement and inclusivity in extra-curricular activities including societies, volunteering and student media, meaning representing 200+ student groups to the University, lobbying for their interests and making sure that they receive the recognition they deserve.”

Four candidates threw their hat into the ring for the position, but it was Kaitlyn Beattie-Zarb who secured the position after the third round of voting revealed no candidates met the first or second threshold. Kaitlyn won with 839 votes, and runner-up Chuyang Zhang came second with 619. Kaitlyn warmly thanked student media in her speech and stated that she would be celebrating her win with a Sabb cocktail.

Nouse spoke to Kaitlyn following the announcement. Firstly, Nouse asked ‘You’ve mentioned helping student media societies in your manifesto- what plans are you most keen to put into action now that you’ve won?’
She replied “I’ve been asked this one a lot, mostly I’m really keen on securing more storage for societies as I know this can be such a big problem.”

Following this, the next role to be announced was Sports Officer. The role of the Sports Officer is to “coordinate and develop sports within YUSU and work to increase opportunities and participation, helping to shape the direction of sports and physical activity at York, as well as running events."

Four candidates contested the role, but Tanisha Jain (TJ) won the vote on the third round with 1245 votes, securing the role with a margin of just 109 votes as she was closely followed by Harvey Charlesworth with 1136 votes. TJ received a huge applause from the audience, winning the election for the second year in a row.

Nouse spoke to TJ as the only winning candidate to already have experience in the role:
‘How does it feel to have been elected for another term and do you plan to do anything differently next time round?’ Tanisha stated: “ I’m a BAME student, I’m an international student, I’m part of the LGBT community- so I’ve had a lot of experiences to offer which I hope will help out the student body.”

Ben Vulliamy, the CEO of YUSU, then shared his thoughts on the election. He stated there was an “incredibly diverse field for candidates which you can see in the manifestos” and wished to send “a massive thank you to the candidates, the campaigners, the voters and student media”.

The fourth officership to be announced was the Union Affairs Officer, who “acts as the head of the Union and as the Chair of our Trustee Board, liais[ing] with College Committees and tak[ing] on other leadership responsibilities.” The role is the equivalent of the Union President, so it was only right that Pierrick Roger was brought on stage for a chat with our presenters. Pierrick congratulated everyone but said, “I know quite a few candidates so I’m just nervous for them.”

Nouse spoke to Pierrick about his advice for the incoming officer: 'The union affairs role is mainly campaigning, so the main tip I have is to be smart with it – you have to understand what people need and understand how to deliver it. That’s my main tip, be strategic” he said.  He also shared his thoughts on the Sabb cocktail which was named after him, warning that “it’s lethal, so if people want to get smashed I recommend it!'

Shortly after, Lewis Parrey was revealed to have won the election during the third round. He crossed the threshold with a huge 1303 votes. Going up on stage, Lewis was extremely appreciative of his campaign team and stated “I don’t even know how I’m feeling', before sharing that he would be celebrating the night in Flares.

Nouse asked Lewis a couple of questions about his plans for the role: ‘Union Affairs is such a key role in the new Union, what do you feel you can personally bring to York’s Students’ Union?’ Lewis replied: “I hope I can bring my experience campaigning for students, challenging the uni and also my passion for doing these things and hopefully that will make things happen.”
Nouse then asked ‘How are you feeling post-election win?’ “Everyone keeps asking me, but I honestly have no idea! There are so many emotions, I don’t even know if this is real!” Lewis stated.

Equality and Inclusion was next, and this was a highly sought-after role with eight candidates running. This officer’s responsibility is to lead “on community engagement within liberation groups, and advocate for marginalised and underrepresented communities at the University.”

After the announcement of each candidate and some cheers from their friends, it was revealed that Ezreal Xie is to hold this officership in the 2024/25 academic year. He won during the fifth round of voting with 949 votes, closely followed by Freddie Newell with 824.

Ezreal went onto stage and said “I’m so excited, I can’t believe that I got it, bro,” which was met with a round of applause.

Nouse spoke to Ezreal about his priorities as Equality and Inclusion Officer:
‘You emphasise international student welfare in your manifesto - what kind of policies are you looking forward to putting into action?’ Ezreal replied: “Overall, I wish to push for more attention to be directed towards international students, for some students like myself from places like China it can be tough studying in York, even though we study very hard, scholarships and bursaries for us are not very much so I’d like to address this issue.”

During a short break between announcements, the presenters spoke to the CEO of the GSA, Jonny Exon, who shared that Election Results Night is “a night of mixed emotions,” with the welcoming of new officers but also bidding farewell to previous ones. He then went on to say “Well done to all of the candidates, you should all be really proud of yourselves. It’s not easy to put yourself forward”.

Next up was the final newly introduced role, the Union Development Officer. This person “leads on events as well as activity in on-campus venues” and leads “the development and execution of memorable and engaging events and fundraising activities.”

There were six candidates for this role but in the fifth round of voting, Gen Andrews was victorious. You may have seen Gen’s posters around campus which put a fun twist on memorable quotes for the Barbie movie. These included “I’m Just Gen” and “I am Genough”, and reflecting on the campaign process, she said she “really loved” the whole experience and “met some really amazing people”.

Nouse talked to Gen about a key point in her manifesto:
‘You mentioned installing another venue on East Campus, can you share what sort of thing you have in mind?’
“My idea was more multi-purpose than some of the venues we’ve currently got on East [Campus]. Something like a cafe, where you can have evening events but also have some during the day” Gen responded.

Nouse then asked Gen how she was feeling to which she stated “I feel like I'm not breathing quite as heavily as I was over there!”

The final role of the night was the Community and Wellbeing Officer. The person who holds this officership “supports and advocates for student mental health and overall wellness” as well as ensuring “responsiveness to student issues such as accommodation, travel or mental health support.”

This was another extremely competitive role with eight candidates, and it came to the fifth round of voting once again to decide a winner. Freddy Russell crossed the threshold with 758 votes, an announcement which was met with cheers and applause along with an “ooo” from the crowd due to how close the vote was. It was an emotional speech from Freddy as he went on stage to thank all of his campaigning team and “all of the candidates for making it a great race…especially Nick [Sho Hayes]”.

Nouse talked to Freddy, the final winner of the night:
'The race for Community and Wellbeing was the most competitive of all roles this year, what do you think made you stand out from the other candidates?'
“I think I got the chance to give a bit of my own perspective and get across why I personally wanted to do the role so much. It felt like something I needed to do, I think I needed to run for this role. I think it's a win for candidates who want to seem approachable and get across who they really are” said Freddy.

With that, the York Students’ Union election 2024 came to a close. Congratulations to all of the winners and every single candidate for all of the hard work and dedication put into your campaigns. To recap, here are the University of York’s Sabbatical Officers for 2024/25.

Here is a brief reminder of the winning candidates:

Academic Officer - Fenella Johnson

Activities Officer - Kaitlyn Beattie-Zarb

Sports Officer - Tanisha Jain

Union Affairs Officer - Lewis Parrey

Equality and Inclusion Officer - Ezreal Xie

Union Development Officer - Gen Andrews

Community and Wellbeing Officer - Freddy Russell