Swansea University students have voted in a referendum to reduce the number of students’ union full-time officers that will be elected in 2014/15 from seven to five.
The quorum (minimum number of students to vote) was 459 and the total valid votes stood at 464.
Two-thirds of the voters (310) had to vote for the motion and 354 did so. 110 voted against and there was no option to abstain or spoil votes.
Strong opinions were raised on both sides of the debate. Societies and services officer Ceinwen Cloney promised cuts if students voted no: “I’m going to be honest about what voting no will mean. In a word? Cuts.”
Engineering student Tom Lake, posted an open letter in which he questioned the reasoning for the referendum: “The problem? We are being asked to make a financial decision without any meaningful financial information to work with.”
PhD Materials Engineering student Chris Melvin, posting on Twitter about the number of people who voted, said: “The fact that #changeswansea13 reached quorum by 5 votes for such a huge change to the way the union is represented is sad #democracyfail”
Students’ union president Zahid Raja, said: “I’m incredibly pleased with the result and the democratic mandate to continue on with the reforms suggested in my manifesto.
“There will be plenty who are unhappy and will look to fault process to explain away the result. To those individuals, I would say that this is now time for Swansea students to join the debate. This is the time for you to look long and hard at the ways in which we are represented – seize the opportunity and improve our union for generations to come.”
The last referendum to be held was in 2011 where it was decided to abolish the athletics union and to adopt a sports officer into the students’ union.