Plans have been announced to change election regulations for clubs that have more than 150 members. Under the changes, clubs that hit the criteria would have to hold their committee elections as part of the Big Elections. Despite this, voting would still only be available for members of that society.
The move has been hit with criticism from some societies that would be affected under the new scheme. One society said that they would be meeting with representatives from the Union on Friday to discuss the changes. Cinema and Squash have also voiced concern, and their comments can be found below.
Some clubs have claimed that they weren’t consulted about the proposed changes and were instead just told that they were being implemented. When asked about this, Abi de Bruin, Deputy President (Clubs and Societies), said, “Last year we ran a trial of inclusion of some of the Clubs, Societies & Projects’ elections in The Big Elections process. Several of the larger student groups were approached and some clubs specifically asked to be included as part of The Big Elections.
“The general feedback we had was that it was a positive change that increased turnout and also reduced administrative work. The Union Governance Committee discussed both of these outcomes from the test last year and made the decision to move all elections for Clubs, Societies or Projects with more than 150 members online.”
De Bruin also said, “It did also highlight to us that some of the groups weren’t actually holding democratic elections in line with the rules set out in our bye-laws”. Last year Felix reported that two student societies – the Christian Union (CU) and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) were found by Imperial College Union to be in breach of the Union’s election byelaws. The CU have fewer than 150 members and aren’t affected by the changes, but the CSSA will have to have their elections in the Big Elections.
When asked why the number 150 specifically was chosen, de Bruin said, “This number was chosen to reflect the reality of the size of lecture theatres available to hold offline elections in.”
She continued, “We communicated this change to those affected at the beginning of the month and have received some feedback from groups who would prefer not to be involved in the online election. In each case we’ve asked for the reasons for this and will, in cases where a clear demonstration of how their current or planned election process will be fully democratic, make appropriate exemptions from the rule.”