On Tuesday 14 February 2017, the Students’ Association Joint Councils debated a motion to amend the procedures and regulations of the next rectorial election, which is set to be held in October 2017. Nominations open on Monday 2 October, and voting ends on Friday 13 October.
New regulations state that students will be the bulk nominators for this elections. Any nomination must be signed by a minimum of 20 students of the University. The proposer of the nomination, also required to be a student, must run the election campaign and serve as the contact of communications for their candidate during the election. The motion cited the fact that “the rector is an integral figure in student representation.”
These changes come due to “the short time between the start of the semester of the academic year 2017/2018.”
The new rules and regulations also stipulate that candidates must appoint both a campaign manager, usually the proposer, and a campaign team. These individuals will be held accountable for campaign activity. In a move to further increase transparency, no sabbatical officers of the Students’ Association or the Athletic Union may participate in any campaigning.
As with the current Students’ Association elections, environmental concerns were flagged as a priority. In the current round of student elections, there were also new restrictions placed on the use of flyers and paper publicity materials.
However, it is the campaign man agers, not the candidates, who will be responsible for any penalties in this case. Campaign materials must cease to be used within 48 hours of voting closing.
Most importantly, a budget extension of £350 will be given to each candidate to use for campaigning and publicity expenses. The University will reimburse this money to the nominated individual as long as detailed expense records are kept.
The updated rules and procedures also state that “more serious infringements” will be escalated to the returning officer and may result in candidates being fully discredited or being given a financial penalty.
The University Senate-appointed supervisory panel, which deals with any disputes regarding electoral practice, will have final say in election procedural complaints, and there will be no appeals held.
Catherine Stihler, Scottish MEP and former president of the Students’ Association, has been rector since winning the 2014 rectorial election.