James McAsh has won the race to be the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) next president on a successful night for anti-cuts campaigners.
Joining Mr McAsh on the sabbatical team is his fellow anti-cuts campaigner Max Crema who was elected as vice-president for services. Hazel Marzetti was elected as vice-president for societies and activities whilst Andrew Burnie emerged victorious in the race to become vice-president for academic affairs.
Following a close election and a raucous reception from supporters, Mr McAsh told The Journal that he is looking forward to working with his fellow sabbatical officers and believes that it is a “good team” for the year ahead. Mr McAsh also explained that “we may disagree on some things, but that’s fine, that’s very healthy”.
He also believes that this victory will allow him to ensure reforms within the university and the continuation of the fight against fees and cuts which he has campaigned on in the past.
Fellow anti-cuts campaigner Max Crema told The Journal that the year ahead will be “incredibly busy”. Mr Crema described McAsh as a “great friend” and expressed his good relationship with Ms Marzetti and Mr Burnie. Hazel Marzetti said she was “very surprised” with her victory and that she is looking forward to working with the rest of the sabbatical officers.
Ms Marzetti also plans to “strengthen student communities and also to improve the student support we have at our university at the moment”. Andrew Burnie spoke of his excitement about working with the rest of the sabbatical officers citing the need to ensure that the university doesn’t shorten the exam period for next year.
The election of McAsh and Crema is a coup for the group formerly known as Defend Edinburgh as both candidates have been at the forefront of attempts to protest against fee rises and cuts in education by organising and attending demonstrations across the country. It is possible that protests will become more widespread at the university.
Defeated presidential candidate James Wood offered his congratulations to Mr McAsh: “All three candidates made their views clear and I think McAsh got the most amount of votes and is the right man for the job”.
Mr Wood also suggested that his campaign wasn’t as organised as he would have liked but outlined his enthusiasm to remain part of student politics and possibly run an election campaign next year.
After coming a close second in the presidential election, Hugh Murdoch outlined his plans to focus on his role as a trustee at the association and to ensure that he keeps on top of his studies in the year ahead. Mr Murdoch stated that he “really enjoyed his campaign” and that he was proud that so many students had voted for him.
Several times throughout the eveing current EUSA president Matt McPherson had to remind the audience of the 'safe space' policy. The policy is aimed to ensure that students don’t feel intimidated by members of the audience. Ms Marzetti felt like the policy had been breached: “I’m very much in favour of everyone enjoying themselves clapping their friends, cheering, I feel that the chanting went a little bit too far from certain groups”.
James Wood also expressed his disappointment at what he saw as breaches of the ‘safe space’ policy during both the results and the campaign trail.
Mr McAsh, Mr Crema and Mr Burnie stated that they felt the safe space policy wasn’t breached and that there wasn’t any real negativity from the crowd.
The new sabbatical team will take up their roles in September starting a period which Mr McAsh hopes will produce a more “democratic university”.