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Student Returning Officers
& campaign points
Jo Walters
@jowalters
Membership Engagement Coordinator
Sussex Students‟ Union
How we learned to
stop worrying and
trust students
A quick poll:
Who is your Returning
Officer?
The role of the
Returning Officer
at Sussex
Returning Officers at
Sussex: A brief history
Returning Officer: Student volunteer
Deputy: Union Staff member
The furthest back Jo
can remember
(at least 2004ish)
Returning Officer: Full-time Officer
Deputy: Union Staff member
From 2006ish
Returning Officer: NUS
Deputy: Union Staff member
One set of
elections in 2012
New for 2013:
Recruit a student to be
our Returning Officer
Local knowledge & experience
Regularly available
Focused on the role
We love students
Why?
A risky move
Impartiality
Quality &
quantity of
candidates
New = scary
flickr.com/photos/prawnpie/635836359
Ensure the Union‟s elections are run fairly and in
accordance with the election rules
Ensure candidates are aware of the e...
Essential requirements
1. To be a fully registered University of Sussex or BSMS student
2. To be a proactive self-starter ...
“Most importantly the Returning
Officer must be impartial – so you must
not be a supporter of any
candidate, be part of an...
We interviewed six
candidates and
recruited Gabriel
Recruitment
New = scary
New + preparation
= excitement &
unexpected
awesome
Focused only on elections
Fresh perspective
More independent
Advantages
Costs more
Recruitment takes up time
Risk of an unsuitable appointment
Disadvantages
Costs more
Recruitment takes up time
Risk of an unsuitable appointment
Disadvantages
The biggest disadvantage
Strong recruitment
Transparency
Training
Support from Deputy Returning Officer
Have a Plan B
Key tips
Boosting the Returning
Officer’s power
Warnings
Removal from the
election
Typical sanctions
flickr.com/photos/mskogly/2405945004
Warnings
Increase naughty candidates‟
competitors‟ scope for publicity
Reduce naughty candidates‟
scope for publicity
Remo...
Candidates are allocated
a number of points
Our points system
Points mean prizes
Let‟s play with a real example
Points values
The Returning Officer
giveth points and the
Returning Officer
taketh away points
Easy to tweak to
encourage/discourage things
Aims for fairness
Aims to limit spending
Relies on trust
Advantages
Weird to explain
„How many points for a ______ ?‟
Relies on trust
Disadvantages
Any questions?
jo.w@sussexstudent.com
@jowalters
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Presentation given at WIDAR (Workers in Democracy & Representation) conference 2013. An outline of how Sussex has moved to appointing a student as their Returning Officer and their campaign points system for candidates' publicity materials

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Student returning officers & campaign points

  1. 1. Student Returning Officers & campaign points Jo Walters @jowalters Membership Engagement Coordinator Sussex Students‟ Union
  2. 2. How we learned to stop worrying and trust students
  3. 3. A quick poll: Who is your Returning Officer?
  4. 4. The role of the Returning Officer at Sussex
  5. 5. Returning Officers at Sussex: A brief history
  6. 6. Returning Officer: Student volunteer Deputy: Union Staff member The furthest back Jo can remember (at least 2004ish)
  7. 7. Returning Officer: Full-time Officer Deputy: Union Staff member From 2006ish
  8. 8. Returning Officer: NUS Deputy: Union Staff member One set of elections in 2012
  9. 9. New for 2013: Recruit a student to be our Returning Officer
  10. 10. Local knowledge & experience Regularly available Focused on the role We love students Why?
  11. 11. A risky move Impartiality Quality & quantity of candidates New = scary flickr.com/photos/prawnpie/635836359
  12. 12. Ensure the Union‟s elections are run fairly and in accordance with the election rules Ensure candidates are aware of the election rules Answer candidates’ queries about the rules Decide upon and impose sanctions if the elections rules are breached Respond to any complaints about the conduct of the elections Write an elections report for the Union‟s Executive Committee, Council and Trustee Board Job description Want the full thing? Email me and I‟ll send it over – jo.w@sussexstudent.com
  13. 13. Essential requirements 1. To be a fully registered University of Sussex or BSMS student 2. To be a proactive self-starter and work under your own initiative 3. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills 4. The ability to act impartially 5. An excellent understanding of the principles underpinning the elections rules and to make judgements accordingly 6. The ability to appropriately challenge behaviour not in keeping with the rules 7. A strong understanding of and commitment to the democratic nature of the Students‟ Union Desirable requirements 1. Experience of working (paid or unpaid) in a similar role e.g. a sports referee 2. Knowledge of University of Sussex Students‟ Union‟s democratic processes Person specification Want the full thing? Email me and I‟ll send it over – jo.w@sussexstudent.com
  14. 14. “Most importantly the Returning Officer must be impartial – so you must not be a supporter of any candidate, be part of any candidate‟s campaign team or give any view at all, publicly or privately, as to who you would or wouldn‟t like to win.” Recruitment
  15. 15. We interviewed six candidates and recruited Gabriel Recruitment
  16. 16. New = scary
  17. 17. New + preparation = excitement & unexpected awesome
  18. 18. Focused only on elections Fresh perspective More independent Advantages
  19. 19. Costs more Recruitment takes up time Risk of an unsuitable appointment Disadvantages
  20. 20. Costs more Recruitment takes up time Risk of an unsuitable appointment Disadvantages The biggest disadvantage
  21. 21. Strong recruitment Transparency Training Support from Deputy Returning Officer Have a Plan B Key tips
  22. 22. Boosting the Returning Officer’s power
  23. 23. Warnings Removal from the election Typical sanctions flickr.com/photos/mskogly/2405945004
  24. 24. Warnings Increase naughty candidates‟ competitors‟ scope for publicity Reduce naughty candidates‟ scope for publicity Removal from the election Our sanctions
  25. 25. Candidates are allocated a number of points Our points system
  26. 26. Points mean prizes
  27. 27. Let‟s play with a real example Points values
  28. 28. The Returning Officer giveth points and the Returning Officer taketh away points
  29. 29. Easy to tweak to encourage/discourage things Aims for fairness Aims to limit spending Relies on trust Advantages
  30. 30. Weird to explain „How many points for a ______ ?‟ Relies on trust Disadvantages
  31. 31. Any questions?
  32. 32. jo.w@sussexstudent.com @jowalters

Presentation given at WIDAR (Workers in Democracy & Representation) conference 2013. An outline of how Sussex has moved to appointing a student as their Returning Officer and their campaign points system for candidates' publicity materials

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