Elections 2015 Re-cap: Full-Time Officers

AFTER the dust has settled since the Students’ Union Elections last month, we take a look at each of the winners in detail. This article focusses on the newly elected full-time officers. You can find the part-time officer run-down here. You can still pick up a copy of The Courier Elections Special – available in the Union and across campus, and soon to be online.


LEWIS Donnelly has won the presidency this year of the Aberystwyth Student Union. Winning by 866 votes with Julia Corcoran, Alexander Tidy, Daniel Middleton and Kathleen Stannard following behind. The Union was filled with noise when Donnelly took the title, one he had won by far in every stage of the voting.

Speaking with Aber Student Media after the result Donnelly was “shocked” and somewhat speechless. When asked what he would be focusing on first, Donnelly responded, “Improving Welsh translation – hire more Welsh speakers; improve uni-student communications through a smartphone app. Introduce an online voting system so students can watch SU Meetings on a stream and vote on policies.” A focus on improving translations, support and opportunities for Welsh speakers has been a central aspect of Donnelly’s manifesto and campaign.

Donnelly has also expressed a desire to improve communications between students and the Union – letting students have their say by creating an online voting system for Student Union assembly meeting that will allow students to have much more influence on their Union and university.

Car sharing schemes, campaigning against Visa schemes for a continued multicultural Aberystwyth and improving study spaces such as Laura Place in town are just some of Donnelly’s pledges to students. Donnelly’s main aim appears to be creating a Student’s Union that is far more influenced by actual students at the university, and places more emphasis on accessibility, interaction and Welsh representation. The voting turnout this year may have been at its best for a long time, but there are still huge chunks of the student population who did not vote. Perhaps Donnelly’s inclusive and interactive plans for the Union will change this.

The new president told us he would be “going out to celebrate” after the win and in his speech hoped he would see us all in Yoko’s.

Welfare Officer

Ieuan Gregory has won the position of Welfare Officer with 726 votes, followed by Ria Landrygan, Auzee Ziq Rosmadee and John Morgan in that order. Upon taking the stage during the elections, Gregory was awarded a ceremonial poncho from the incumbent Welfare officer, Will Atkinson, prompting cheers and applause from the crowd. In his interview with Aber Student Media, he spoke of being overwhelmed by the intensity of the elections and his campaign. Despite his exhaustion, he looks forward to his work: “Face-to-face, one-on-one contact especially with students” is his priority. In his extensive manifesto he recognizes the broad range of needs students have, highlighting mental health, student support and sexual health – all issues that are so often ignored despite being central in many students’ lives. Gregory pledges to make students more aware of the pre-existing support available to them as well as increase awareness of resources relating to mental and sexual health, pledging to “resurrect” the Sexual Health clinic at the Wellness Centre and give students access to more free condoms. Arguing that students are often ‘oblivious’ to student support, Gregory plans on making all support more accessible and extensive as well as ensuring students are fully prepared for graduate life with the help of the Union.

Education Officer

In another highly sought after officer position, Lauren Marks has been elected Education Officer. Paying tribute to her predecessor Grace Burton onstage, who announced her victory with 722 votes after seven rounds. Will Thomas fell to second with 492 votes and he was the followed by Kerry-Ann Pimlott, Shobha Sritharan, Alice Duclos, Jake Stennett and Willaim Hannell in that order.

As an undergraduate Institute Representative for IBERS, Marks brings academic experience to her new role, and pledges to develop study spaces at Laura Place, Llandinam and the Old College, as well as increasing communication between lecturers and students with module feedback and on Blackboard. She refers to ‘the big three’ – tutors, feedback and Blackboard – in her manifesto as essential for students and therefore all central to her future plans. In particular Marks hopes to create a tighter feedback system – ‘Feedback on Feedback’ – so that individual departments can improve their marking policies. Other pledges include lobbying to bring back full revision weeks, improving student representation in the Union and providing more substantial support for postgraduates. Both Marks and new president, Lewis Donnelly, have mentioned continuing support for FU Wednesdays as well. Speaking after her win, Marks thanked “All those who voted and listened” during this year’s elections. Despite beginning her campaign with no campaign team as she remarks in her ASM interview “It was me alone for a few days until my friends came back from holiday!”, Marks’ huge success in this election and extensive manifesto show potential for the year ahead.

Activities Officer

In the closest election of this year, Kelly Keat has won the position of Activities Officer. In the eighth stage, Keat won by 604 votes, followed closely by Cameron Smyth with 600. Dylan O’Kelly-Lynch, Jeanette Appleseed, Alex Moore, Harriet O’Shea, Suzanne Kurian and Kate Hampton followed.

With eight candidates, this position was one of the most contested of this election and, though followed closely by her contestants, Keat led the race throughout each stage. Keat is an active sportswoman, boasting ten different sports, including a committee position. Keat’s pledges include improving the ‘Sporty Club’ system, create and allocate storage and facilities for clubs when needed and promote Aberystwyth’s teams and individual pride by showcasing achievements and events on new platforms.

In response to the huge outburst of noise when Keat won her position, she thanked her sports teams for supporting her both on the night and throughout her campaign. When speaking to Aber Student Media, Keat spoke of the intense competition for the role and her excitement to transform Club Sporty into ‘Team Aber’. We asked her her plans for the evening to which she responded, “Cry, drink, sleep and then who knows?” Keat’s charisma and hopes for a Union that supports students for all their passions and sports are both promising for the coming year.

Welsh Affairs & UMCA/ Materion Cymreig ac UMCA

Ennillodd Hanna Medi Merrigan, a astudiodd yn Ysgol Gyfun Maes yr Yrfa cyn dod i Aberystwyth yn 2012, yr etholiad ar gyfer Swyddog Materion Cymreig ac Llywydd UMCA gan enill 1,229 pleidlais ac RON (Ail agor enwebiadau) yn derbyn 261 pleidlais. Un o brif amcanion ei maniffesto oedd i barhau “i gyd-weithio a’r Brifysgol a’r Coleg Cymraeg er mwyn sicrhau bod y Ganolfan Gymraeg a Diwylliant yn gweddu gofynion y myfyrwyr Cymreig yn hytrach na’n tanseilio’r llety” ac pan gofynnwyd beth oedd y polisi yr oedd hi am weithredu arno’n gyntaf, ei hateb oedd “Achub Pantycelyn, dwi’n hollol ymwybodol bod Pantycelyn heb wir wedi’w achub a dwi’n credu mai dyma’r polisi cyntaf”. Wedi bod ar bwyllgor UMCA ers dwy flynedd fel Swyddog ail iaith nododd “mae siaradwyr di-Gymraeg neu dysgwyr yn bwysig iawn a fi’n edrych ymlaen i gydweithio gyda nhw hefyd”. Rhan arall o’i maniffesto yw ei bod hi hefyd am weld mwy o’r di-Gymraeg yn mynychu digwyddiadau UMCA. Bydd Hanna yn cymryd dros gwaith Miriam Williams, ac hi yw’r bumed fenyw yn olynnol i’w hethol fel Llywydd UMCA wedi Rhiannon Wade, Tammy Hawkins, Mared Ifan ac Miriam Williams y llynedd.

Hanna Medi Merrigan won the election to become Welsh Affairs and UMCA President. The former Ysgol Gyfun Maes yr Yrfa student claimed 1,229 votes, while R.O.N. (Re-open Nominations) won 261 votes. The first point of her manifesto was to make sure that the proposed Centre for Welsh Language and Culture would meet the requirements of the Welsh students. She was asked which one of her policies she was looking to implement first, to which she replied “The most important policy over the next year will be to save Pantycelyn. We’re all aware of the situation that Pantycelyn hasn’t really been saved and that I think is the most important policy”. Hanna has been a member of UMCA’s committee for two years as the Second Language Officer, and will look to “co-operate even further with non-Welsh speakers and learners” with the hope of seeing more of them at UMCA events. Hanna will take over from Miriam Williams, and is the fifth woman to preside UMCA in a row after Rhiannon Wade, Tammy Hawkins, Mared Ifan and Williams.