By Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Bristol SU have been strongly criticised for their lack of transparency over their March elections by Bristol student’s anonymous confessions page, Bristruths.
In a statement released on both their website and Facebook page, which has almost 25,000 followers, Bristruths have called out the Student’s Union for taking seven months to provide the breakdown of results for the elections that took place in March.
Bristruths had fielded a candidate, Bristruths ‘Rory’, for the role of Union Affairs Officer and say they now want ‘to commit the SU to holding more transparent elections and other democratic processes in the future’.
The anonymous confessions page has also highlighted what they deem to be ‘misleading information as to when the results were published’ on the Bristol SU website.
The date on the election results page is dated ‘Friday 13-03-2020 - 18:30’, but an internet archive used by Bristruths revealed Bristol SU hadn’t added these results until last week, on 12 November.
These results were then first publicised by Bristol SU in a Facebook comment, along with a message that read: ‘Our bad… a little thing called covid got in the way’.
Bristruths have labelled the remark ‘sarcastic’ and criticised the responses credibility.
‘We are not alleging fraud has occured, nor are we suggesting that the elected officer or any other member was unduly elected.’
Further issues raised over Bristol SU’s lack of transparency include the failure of the SU’s Democratic Standards Committee to take any action for the seven months, even despite the SU acknowledging they did receive a request for a breakdown of results.
Bristruth also note the most recent information on the Committee is of minutes from a meeting that took place in 2016.
The platform have said: ‘we are not alleging fraud has occured, nor are we suggesting that the elected officer or any other member was unduly elected.
‘We are not calling for the results to be overturned, we are merely pointing out that the current system is not functioning as a true transparent democracy.
‘It is unsurprising that so few people engage with student politics or the SU when the electorate is ignored and sidelined.
In response to the allegations Bristol SU says it ‘made a mistake’, saying ‘the fast-moving situation around Covid-19 [meant] there was significant disruption to our usual process for publishing elections results.’
They also cited other factors that led to the delay, Bristol SU’s move to ‘remote working on the day’ results should have been published, ‘being busy supporting and representing students on the lockdown and changes in the staff team.’
Typically, they explained, voting breakdown is published on the SU website following the results night event, which didn’t take place this year due to the pandemic.
Instead, they say candidates were briefed privately before the results were published online and say candidates could have received a breakdown of the results if they had requested this separately.
However, they also admit they did receive a request and ‘failed to acknowledge it or respond’ in the seven month period.
They added: ‘We’re sorry for the slip-up and are taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.’
In a response to Epigram, Bristol SU added they will be reviewing their ‘elections planning documentation and task-lists to ensure that this doesn’t get missed again.’
Featured Image: Epigram / Patrick Sullivan / Bristruths
To contact Bristol SU, you can do so via: email@example.com