On Friday, 10th March, the Guild held its annual elections for representative officers. A tense atmosphere in the Mountford Hall saw Sean Turner re-elected as President. Ananda Mohan and Oba Akinwale swapped places, with Ananda becoming Deputy President, but all returning Student Officers remained in office. Rory Hughes was elected as newcomer, promising to print The Sphinx, reduce bus fares and cut the cost of gym membership.
A results came in, newly-elected Rory Hughes said: “It feels a but unreal, to be honest with you… I think it’s a Labour Society win. I mean we worked really hard on campus to build the society up, I ran as a Labour candidate and it worked – we got in. We got in on a message of hope, and change, and excitement. And I didn’t shove an iPad in everyone’s face and I still won… it’s amazing.”
Rory has since released a statement about gender representation. You can read it here.
Shortly after results were in, however, people began commenting on the clear lack of female representation. Third-year Biomedical Sciences student Laura Williamson said: “I just feel like as half the population are females, and half the student population are females, we really should have the Guild representatives being female. I feel like, culturally, we’ve mastered the diversity, that’s a good tick, but gender-wise we really haven’t and that is a shame.”
Beth Meadows, who was endorsed by several societies, including the largest on campus, missed out on the fourth position by just 59 votes. On Saturday, she released a statement on her campaign Facebook Page saying she was “absolutely gutted”.
“The fact that four male officers have been elected however speaks volumes about the problems within our society and the desperate need for next year 2 male and 2 female positions to be ran for. I would hate for any female candidates to experience this again, it’s totally unjust. I feel proud of my campaign safe in the knowledge that I ran it honestly and with integrity, never willing to sacrifice my principles for a title. I really wanted to send the message out to all women that we are worthy and powerful and loved despite this world we live in.”
Meanwhile, social media clashes have been plentiful, and controversies continue to mount around these.
This appears to be the first all-male Guild team since 1993-1994. The Liverpool Guild of Students has never had an all-female representative team. However, before 1969, the Liverpool Guild of Undergraduates had a ‘President’ and a ‘Lady President’ – meaning that even in 1893, Liverpool students had secured female representation. The first all-male representative team came in 1972, three years after the gendered terms were removed.
Guild President Sean Turner said: “It’s a real shame that no women have been elected. With bitter irony, one reason we switched to an open election rather than having named roles (e.g. Vice President Welfare, Vice President Education, Vice President Activities) is because when there was a woman in the team she was always elected in the Welfare role.”
“So at the time it was felt that system should be moved away from to ensure there was more equity between the officers.”
Out of 40 Student Officers in the last 10 years, just 14 have been female.
As calls for a gender quota continue to circulate among the student body, backlash has grown. However, Guild Vice President Yasmin Gasimova has been working on building “liberation structures” into the Guild all year. She is currently researching the options for ensuring gender representation in the Guild after she leaves, and is expected to submit a petition to Change It, which will then be discussed at Guild Summit.
According to Sean Turner: “[a quota would] be a big thing to change as it would involve altering our articles of association, which are our fundamental legal documents as a charity.”
The returning President’s rooftop bar policy, meanwhile, appears to have been used as a symbol of the frustrations of some groups. Various individuals, including one current SO, took to social media to decry the perceived triviality of the popular rooftop terrace policy, when 9 candidates ran on mental health and no women were elected into office.