Following news of the disqualification of renowned academic Dr. Sarah Alyn-Stacey from the Provost elections and its aftermath involving a plethora of reactions critical thereof from students and academics alike (see. Open letter of postgraduates, pro-chancellor Sean Barrett, the recent change.org survey and IFUT), this discussion item is submitted in order to discuss the possibility of abstention on the student-wide survey run by the EC as per the mandate passed at the SU Council in December, the result of which the six student representatives with voting rights are mandated to respect as a block when casting their votes for the next Provost. Speaking as the class representative of Junior Fresh PPES, certain students have voiced dissatisfaction with the reduced pool of candidates, and would want to see an option of abstention to express this dissatisfaction.
Speaking candidate-wise neutrally for myself and also echoing sentiments of certain coursemates, some students fundamentally disagree with the disqualification of Dr. Sarah Alyn-Stacey and the Interview Committee’s shift in role as compared to the election ten years ago. As described by University Times in an editorial article, whereas the IC used to be a ‘mild screening process’, it has in the upcoming election taken a fundamentally bureaucratic role, shifting the whole procedure from election to appointment. Rather than trusting the electorate to decide what is best for the future of the University in a fair and free environment fused with the spirit of academic debate, a vanguard claiming to represent the College’s interests has decided in its place. If there was an option to abstain in the upcoming student survey, students could express their dissatisfaction and rather cast a vote of protest by proxy to uphold democratic values within College in lieu of being either forced to vote in an election which they believe to hold questionable legitimacy or being left without an opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction at all. A vote for democracy is the best vote, one which inherently – in principle of radical democracy – guarantees the fulfillment of the students’ goals, such as curing the imminent risk posed by climate change.
As a result of news of the voting system not being able to support an abstention option because of the STV mechanism, this document can serve as an item to note the dissent of certain students regarding the disqualification of Dr. Sarah Alyn-Stacey.