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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Bring back Francis!

Feb 26 2003 17:13
Mustafa Arif
STRAIGHT TALKING: Mustafa?s back. And he?s pissed off with ICU elections. Big time.
He may not be everyone's favourite Returning Officer but he's better than some. (Photo credit: National Union of Students).

Right, there has been lots of stuff reported here, by Felix and by STOIC. Let?s start by clearing up a few myths, shall we?

  • - MYTH 1: I am holding up the count.

This is complete rubbish. As has been reported elections committee was bogged down with complaints and appeals. The candidates meeting, originally scheduled for 7pm last night did not happen until 11pm. By that time Elections Committee had ALREADY DECIDED NOT TO COUNT the votes that night. They felt they were too tired and would not be able to do it justice. The count would take place at the earliest practical time (i.e. when the four volunteers are free), which currently looks like being next Wednesday :-(

Furthermore, the count cannot take place without an impartial scrutineer, appointed by the College, to oversee the proceedings. This is in order for the College?s Governing Body to comply with its responsibilities to ensure sabbatical elections are fairly run, in accordance with the 1994 Education Act. I?ve no idea if Mr Ganesh (current President and Returning Officer) has, as yet, asked College to appoint a scrutineer ? but there certainly wasn?t anyone there last night.

So, in short, it didn?t matter whether I had signed something or not. The count wasn?t going to happen anyway. And I have not delayed it.

  • - MYTH 2: Elections Committee was bogged down by my complaints

The elections committee considered only ONE 'complaint' made by myself last night. When I went in to see them, I made it clear that it was not intended to in any way hold up or contest the result. I was complaining about the conduct of the Returning Officer, and I wanted Elections Committee to carefully consider the various issues raised and include something appropriate in their report. We had a friendly chat and the whole thing took FIVE MINUTES. That's hardly bogging anyone down!

The other complaints (the ones that took time to deal with) were made by other candidates.

  • - MYTH 3: I want the election re-run

Rubbish. I have made it clear that I shall not be contesting the outcome of the election and that I want to see the results as much as anyone. For crying out loud, i'm a final year student, like several other candidates. We need to know our immediate future so that we can deal with job offers, etc!

  • - MYTH 4: I have refused to sign a declaration that the count can go ahead

Again, not true. Last night we were asked to sign two declarations. The first declaration was that, should I be elected, I would agree to sign a contract and take up the post. I signed this declaration without hesitation.

The second declaration required me to state that the elections were run fairly and properly and that I would not be contesting the outcome. I was not happy with signing this. The reason being that I do not believe they were run properly (more on this later?). I was not going to sign a statement that I did not agree with. It?s not just a matter of principle, it?s about credibility. If I am elected President, do you want me to lie just to make my life easier?

After careful consideration I offered to sign a declaration with a different form of words. I would not acknowledge that the elections were run properly but would, nevertheless, state my intention not to contest the outcome. This is all that is required under the election regulations. Mr Ganesh indicated that he would be happy with this but that we would have to negotiate a precise form of words that both I and Elections Committee were happy with to meet the constitutional requirements. This was 11:30pm. As it had already been decided not to count the votes last night, Mr Ganesh suggested that we sort the wording out today. Unfortunately, I haven?t been able to get hold of him today as he?s still in bed. So, basically I want to sign something, but can?t.

  • - The elections were a complete farce

This is, frankly, the worst sabbatical elections I have ever seen in Imperial College Union. The Returning Officer had complete disregard for the elections committee (they are supposed to oversee all the election arrangements but only met for the first time after the end of the first day?s voting!) Had Mr Ganesh shown some leadership, rather than dithering, then this would never have turned into the mess it became.

In particular, I have to say that I am extremely angry that one of my ?rival? Presidential candidates, Ameet Bhakta, was disqualified. While I believe his offences were serious and that Elections Committee?s decision to dismiss him was fair, it was unnecessary. If Mr Ganesh had actually dealt with complaints made during the middle of last week instead of waiting around then there could have been a much more constructive solution. By leaving it so late, Elections Committee was left with no choice but to disqualify him.

  • - David Francis

Last night, STOIC asked me whether I thought David Francis would have done a better job. I declined to comment at the time. On reflection, they had a point. While Mr Francis is someone with whom I had a well-publicised personality clash, I do have a lot of respect for him. He virtually always acted in what he believed to be the best interests of students (even if we sometimes violently disagreed with what those interests were). And despite all the complaints about the elections he ran last year, people forget that he secured one of the better turnouts in recent years. Those legitimate complaints from last year were blown out of all proportion.

So yes, I?d have much more confidence in David Francis running an election. We might disagree on detail but at the end of the day, he?s not only dedicated, he also has this thing in his back with bones in called ?a spine?.

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Discussion about “Bring back Francis!”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Feb 26 2003 17:31

And clearly, I'm getting spending lots of time on all the coursework I have to hand in today and tomorrow...

Feb 26 2003 17:50

Slagging off the returning officer is hardly edifying conduct from an election candidate.

Feb 26 2003 18:06

I do not believe that "slagging off" is something that Mr Arif is guilty of. There are circumstances that could have been avoided by allowing (is that the right word?) the elections committee to meet before the penultimate day of the campaigns. Mustafa is (IMHO) not acting out of malice in any way. He is, as a responsible candidate, acting in the way that he feels is right, and (unlike most people in this union) is prepared to stand up for his views. He is not "slagging off" the returning officer, he is saying that in his opinion the decisions made by the returning officer have placed serious question marks over the procedure of the elections and as such cannot sign to say the opposite.

I am not in any way saying that I agree or disagree with Mr Arif's opinion. I am saying, however, that I agree with his actions given he holds the opinion that he does.

Feb 26 2003 18:07

I am disgusted at Arif's attitudes towards the election process and the returning officer. I am now ashamed to have voted for him before RON.

What an arrogant attitude.

Feb 26 2003 18:12

so is someone going to explain how this STV voting thing works?

Feb 26 2003 18:47
Feb 26 2003 19:13

"I am disgusted at Arif's attitudes towards the election process and the returning officer."

One of the reasons I think he's a good candidate is because he won't put up with nonsense from his staff or College. This just shows that he'll put his neck on the line (this may cost him votes if the election is rerun, due to apathy and ignorance) for what he believes.

If you want someone who just rolls over when College says so ... see the current Live poll for info.

Feb 26 2003 19:43

Well... Sen got in a couple of hours ago. Apparently he was/is feeling ill.

So, I've now signed a modified declaration. as we agreed I would do last night.

Feb 26 2003 20:22

I cannot understand how this situation has arisen! Is the president completely incompetent, or just doing a good impression...

I agree with one of the earlier comments, in that I voted for Mustafa because he will put his neck on the line in difficult circumstances. He has a string spine, last time I asked, and from what I can tell he is not slagging off the election process, merely the returning officer for not enforcing it.

It would have been all too easy for Mustafa to sign the declaration, as contesting it makes no difference to the vote. It makes a refreshing change to see a candidate who relies on his morals to guide him, as opposed to taking the easiest option - usually passing the buck or keeping quiet.

10. Nia   
Feb 26 2003 20:57

He he! Mr Lamb submitted 2 versions of his comment. One describing Mr Arif as having a string spine and the other a strong spine.

The editor (or possibly Smeagol, he gets everywhere he does), spots the double entry and deletes one of the submissions. Unfortunately, the editor deleted the one saying Mr Arif has a strong spine.


Or perhaps the editor in question is trying to tell us something. ;-)

String spine - reminds me of those little toy figures made of little sections with a string threaded through them. Usually the string's taught (sp?) and the figure stands up but if you press the button at the bottom it introduces slack into the string and the figure collapses.

Tee hee hee! Childish humour!!

11. Sam   
Feb 26 2003 21:12

What is the string taught? Is is a vocational course, or a real degree?

(spelling is taut...)

12. Nia   
Feb 26 2003 21:22

The string is taught Music at RCM. It's on a violin. It's taught about keys and chords and harmonies and things. In its spare time it's taught things you really wouldn't want to know about by a double bass string.

The little bits of toy figure on the string give added percussion to the string's musical qualities.

Feb 26 2003 21:51

I've been told that while Elections Committee did not quite manage to meet during the election campaign, the President did request feedback on some of his decisions by email. So I take back the my assertion in the article that they were completely ignored but still believe that they were not as involved as they should have been.

14. Tank   
Feb 26 2003 23:55

You say that you did not bog down the process. Yet at around 9:15pm last night, i was sat down in the meeting room (with around 6 other candidates), prepared to sign the declaration when you made an appeal to the exec, about a decision made by the election executive committee, which meant that the candidates meeting didnt happen till around 11pm.

While I agree that it is within your right to make the appeal, it was ultimately dismissed. As you say the process is important to the candidates, especially as some are final years. This is my case, I am in my final year and wasted 5 hours last night hanging around in the union when I should really have been doing some work (not entirely your fault I acknowledge Mustafa). What has annoyed me is that when I left last night I felt that the count would be taking plce last night or today and we would have a result by Thursday. This has not happened and frankly it is s**t. Whose fault I dont care, but my personal well-being is shot, my degree is suffering and worse of all I have no idea what I can and cant do with my life!

All of these rants have been made when I am pissed and people may dismiss them as they wish, but i feel that I should vent what I feel. I want to know the result now, and i feel that you, Mustafa have acted in a way to delay them. Sorry if this offends anyone.

15. J01   
Feb 27 2003 00:04

Yeah, but what the hell's the point of having elections if they're not run fairly?

I'm sure that Mustafa wants to know the results as much as any other candidate, and he would have been well aware of the delay that it would cause when he declined to sign the paper/ appealed against a dismissed complaint.

Only a person firmly convinced that they were doing the right thing (or a complete masochist) would have done this, and I applaud Mr Arif for taking the action that he did last night.

Feb 27 2003 00:28

Tank, I did request an appeal, on behalf of another candidate who upset with proceedings and felt let down. (I was not privy to the original discussions by the Elections Committee and was only able to look at all the information myself during said appeal.)

I thought it was much later than 9.15pm (because the candidates meeting followed straight after, which was 11pm and although I can't remember how long that appeal took, I thought it was certainly under an hour.

I also agreed at about 11:20 pm to sign "something" but that I wanted a small change to the wording. It was decided to defer that until today. When I met Sen today to agree said wording it took us about ten minutes. Had there been the will to go through a count last night, it could have happened. But the Elections Committee felt they were too tired to do it justice, and in the circumstances I don't blame them. But I share your frustration about wanting to know the result!

Feb 27 2003 00:32

Incidentally, if I actually had wanted to delay the count there were plenty of spanners I could have thrown into the works. I know the system too well...

Feb 27 2003 00:36

And there was no scrutineer from College present...

So let's assume that there were no complaints, no appeals and everyone signed the declaration there and then. There STILL would not have been a count!

Feb 27 2003 01:10

This is a farce and quite frankly the fault lies at the election regulations' doorstep.

This is sounding more "out of brussels" than the "do i get 20k if i don't farm 10k hectares when I would get 10k for not farming 5k hectares".

Feb 27 2003 01:15

To correct myself:

"the fault lies at the fault of the election regulations...

"either being too flexible or the returning officer(s) being ineffective in applying them."

Feb 27 2003 01:20

A bit of both, I feel, Rob. I understand that one of the outcomes of the appeal that Tank mentioned was a consensus that certain parts of the election regulations needed addressing.

Feb 27 2003 09:04

Damn, I thought I'd got away with the whole string/strong thing...

23. Atul   
Feb 27 2003 10:12

Have to agree with Mustafa, he probably knows the system well enough that if he really did want to screw up the whole count process he could darn well do it.

You also have to respect him for sticking to his guns and not signing something that he did not believe in.

Feb 27 2003 10:36

MUSTAFA, if you read this , please check your email ASAP.


PS- sorry guys...totally irrelevant to conversation topic but was necessary.

Feb 27 2003 10:54

If only Mustafa would carry a mobile phone ;-) I've been trying to convince him to do so for years, but with no success... <sigh>

26. Sam   
Feb 27 2003 11:02

I think someone should introduce policy that says the President should have a mobile phone...

anyone not owning said device will not be elected.

that should convince him to get one!

Feb 27 2003 11:05

I even offered to give him one for free, just so I could get hold of him! The change of policy is a great idea IMHO ;-) Can we add a clause in there stating that the handset must be purchased from Time2Talk? <g>

Feb 27 2003 11:16

Dial-a-Phone is much cheaper, with a much greater variety...

29. Nia   
Feb 27 2003 11:25

We could give him a choice.

1. Get a mobile phone.

2. Use 2 yoghurt cartons and a piece of string. He would of course be disallowed from going further than the string's length away from a responsible adult.

30. idris   
Feb 27 2003 11:57

A piece of strong?

Feb 27 2003 12:33

Neil, I think he's holding out for a P800...

Feb 27 2003 12:58

He told me that he was not too sure about the P800 now. It costs too much sim-free.

I don't know where he is, but I have just received an e-mail from him. It reads:

"Custom computing - Aaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhh HELP ME!!"

Shame the deadline for the coursework was an hour ago!

Feb 27 2003 13:42

Just seen him. Man does he look rough.

Feb 27 2003 13:56

This has turned into "ArifWatch"

Feb 27 2003 15:13

Maybe we should replace the picture of Francis with one of Mustafa

36. Sam   
Feb 27 2003 15:38


grab a screenshot from the STOIC special on him signing... makes him look soooooooo geeky!

37. alex C   
Feb 27 2003 15:59

you should listen to it down here... the pitch has shifted up an octave, so not only does he look geeky, but he sounds about 12!

sorry mustafa...

Feb 27 2003 16:10

Funniest thing is the photo credit to NUS. Seems so apt for Francis.

Feb 28 2003 13:47

Your talking s**t:

"In particular, I have to say that I am extremely angry that one of my ?rival? Presidential candidates, Ameet Bhakta, was disqualified. While I believe his offences were serious and that Elections Committee?s decision to dismiss him was fair, it was unnecessary. If Mr Ganesh had actually dealt with complaints made during the middle of last week instead of waiting around then there could have been a much more constructive solution. By leaving it so late, Elections Committee was left with no choice but to disqualify him."

Your the one who made the complaint!!!

40. Nia   
Feb 28 2003 14:24

Is it not possible to believe that an infringement of election rules should be dealt with in some way (e.g. a "yellow card" type caution or some other penalisation) but is not necessarily worthy of disqualification?

ps: your = belonging to you

you're = you are

41. Dan L   
Feb 28 2003 14:33


First of all why do you need to post under a false name?

If you read the article correctly, you will see Mustafa has said that there would have been no need to disqualify Ahmeet had the situation been resolved straight away instead of 3-4 days later.

The complaint was made the week before voting, so no candidate had any idea that another candidate would be disqualified from a complaint.

Feb 28 2003 15:34

That's absolute bollocks.

So if the complaint was dealt with straightaway the outcome would have been different? Surely the election committee should be judging a case on facts, therefore whenever the complaint was dealt with the same verdict would apply??????

43. Nia   
Feb 28 2003 15:43

There are less sanctions available to the committee when voting has taken place. Warnings like "if you infringe any of the rules again you're out" cease to have any meaning once camgaining has finished.

44. Nia   
Feb 28 2003 15:45

Obviously I was trying to write campaigning not camgaining. I'm not entirely sure why they'd want to gain cams.

Feb 28 2003 15:58

Good points made by Nia and others about range of sanctions available to Elections Committee - the system needs reworking. Maybe fines would be a better idea?

On the other hand I firmly believe that this attempt at self-justification by Mustafa is complete humbug.

Feb 28 2003 18:15

Ameet *could* have been fined (the election regs allow it).

Umpteen different people (including 'ordinary' students, current Sabbaticals and candidates for other posts) submitted complaints regarding Ameet early last week.

My complaint was actually one of the last to be filed - but it was still before voting had started. They could have fined him, but what I was really after was permission to campaign in lecture theatres (as Ameet had been doing). I know several candidates for other positions wanted to do this too.

I didn't realise they were going to dither about leaving them with no choice but to disqualify him.

And perhaps you should note that Sen has now emailed all canidates asking them to sign the new form of words (as I signed) because 'it complies more accurately' with what the election rules actually require us to sign (i.e. not that the elections were run 'farily and consitutionally' but that we are not going to formally complain about them being unfair or unconstitutional).

Feb 28 2003 18:28

Also, fining someone after voting has taken place is useless. Sure it might 'punish' the individual. But it doesn't recreate a level playing field.

Let's take a not-so-hypothetical scenario: The Returning Officer decided to ban candidates from campaigning in lecture theatres. Most candidates obey this (although they wish they could campaign in lecture theatres). One candidate repeatedly ignores this and campaigns there anyway - gaining an unfair advatage. Forget rules for rules' sake, how does a 'fine' solve anything? You have to either allow other candidates to do the same (which you can do if you act early enough) or you have to disqualify the person.

Feb 28 2003 19:17

Right mustifa let's set the record straight.

I personally campaigned in a lecture theater once, I genuinely didn't know about this until that evening (at hustings at CX) I found out this was a breach and since then I have not done this.

I have never instructed any person in my campaign team to campaign in lecture theater's. So when you say I have persistently campaigned in lecture theater's that is simply not true.

And after reading your complaint I got so angry that the little vein in my temple (maybe a medic could tell me what it is) was nearly about to explode.

Especially since you have breached regulations, but of course I am the only candidate who has gained an unfair advantage?

So I would appreciate if you stopped telling lies.

Feb 28 2003 19:24

when i mean lies i mean:

"One candidate repeatedly ignores this and campaigns there anyway - gaining an unfair advatage."

This is a complete distortion of the truth.

Feb 28 2003 19:58

"I personally campaigned in a lecture theater once, I genuinely didn't know about this until that evening (at hustings at CX)"

Your proposer asked at the candidates briefing (TEN days beforehand) and Sen expressely said it was not allowed. You were there. However, as you have read my complaint (good for you as Sen forgot to tell me about the 8 complaints your proposer levelled against me) you will have noticed that I had said that I turned a blind eye to that breach as I felt that you genuinely didn't have a clue.

"I have never instructed any person in my campaign team to campaign in lecture theater's."

It doesn't matter whether you expressly instructed them to or not. They did it and you are responsible for your campaigning. Again, your proposer was at the candidates' briefing and knew the rules.

"Especially since you have breached regulations"

The 8 complaints that your proposer submitted about me were all allegations that I put posters in 'disallowed' locations. The Elections Committee agreed that the locations were actually not 'disallowed' if you read the election regulations properly. It's not my fault if your proposer "didn't realise" that posters were allowed in those locations.

I know that "I don't read the regulations" was an important part of your campaign but if you don't read the election rules you only have yourself to blame.

Once more, I'd like to emphasise that I did not want you disqualified. If you actually have read my complaint then you will appreciate this.

Feb 28 2003 20:06

Actually, I think the Elections Committee decided that one of those 'disallowed' areas really was 'disallowed'. But both yourself and Andrew Shore had posters there too. (So it was a level playing field.)

Feb 28 2003 22:22

So let me get this straight Mustafa - you thought that the election was run unfairly, but you have no qualms about benefitting from the election. Either you're complaints aren't that serious, in which case you are just wingeing, or the complaints were serious, and you don't see the problem with winning a crooked election. In your reply, if any, can you mention the Education Act, the principles of democracy, and George W. Bush.

53. Seb   
Feb 28 2003 23:46

Seems a bit harsh, given the other candidates are also signing the same statement.

Mar 01 2003 00:24

Andy, to answer your question, I feel that the election was not run properly and that that introduced an element of unfairness. Initially (when I first arrived at the Union on Tuesday night for the post-voting candidates meeting) I felt that a re-run would be the only sensible option.

By the end of the evening I had changed my mind. For two reasons. Firstly, the Elections Committee had adressed many of my concerns. (E.g. the allegations of impartiality at the CX ballot box, while serious, were unlikely to have been as significant as I had at first led to believe). I also realised that however unfair this election, a re-run would be much worse. Worse because people would not be voting with their initial intentions. Some people would vote for me for having made a fuss. Others would vote against for the same reason. There might be a 'sympathy vote' for Ameet. And then there could also be a renewed attraction of New Election.

So, yes, while it makes me squirm to think of the prospect of winning an unfair election, I believe a re-run would yield a result that would not reflect the orginal intentions of the students before it turned into the farce that it now is.

Incidentally my willingess to accept the result applies regardless of whether I win or lose. And unlike some people, I don't think my winning is a foregone conclusion.

As far as the Education Act and democracy are concerned, I think this election is a shambles and a re-run would (for the reasons outlined above) make it worse. I used the George W. Bush analogy when reporting on Richard Taylor's disqualification for putting posters on trees but I don't believe it applies in this case. The Geoge W. Bush / Richard Taylor scenario was where people in elected positions (Union hacks of the day / Jeb Bush) used their authority to ensure to stop a popular candidate they didn't like. I don't think that's a fair comparison with this election. I don't think Sen was trying to be partial to anyone. He just didn't run it as well as he could have done (in my opinion).

Mar 01 2003 00:33

Incidentally, I don't think that my campaign benefitted in any way from the poor running of the election. My guess is that 'New Election' will be the 2nd choice of most people who voted for Ameet (so there's a much greater chance of my losing now he's disqualified). It's also possible that the alleged impartiality at the CX ballot box may have swung a handful of votes towards another candidate (though having heard the evidence in the appeal, I now accept that it was unlikely that the effect was significant).

Mar 01 2003 16:11

How can I put this nicely...

after reading your comments I come to the conclusion that your full of s**t.

57. Fuad   
Mar 01 2003 17:57

calm down beta, take a few deep breaths and de-emotionalise.

then read the thread again from the beginning?

Mar 01 2003 18:00

Care to elaborate, or are we to assume Mustafa is telling the truth?

Simply saying he's full of s**t implies you cannot counter his arguments. I know if I were in your situation I'd want the world to hear how I was wronged, and would at least try and counter Mustafa's posts, even if only in part.

Mar 01 2003 18:27

Mustafa, "Alleged impartiality at the CX ballot box"?

I thought impartiality was to be encouraged in these scenarios.

Mar 01 2003 20:04

David you?ve forced me to elaborate:

?I know that "I don't read the regulations" was an important part of your campaign but if you don't read the election rules you only have yourself to blame.?

  • this was not an important part of my campaign, in fact I only mentioned it once at the hustings at South KEN. Indeed I did read the regulations carefully and the regulations that ?I? breached Weren?t even in the regulations.

?Actually, I think the Elections Committee decided that one of those 'disallowed' areas really was 'disallowed'. But both yourself and Andrew Shore had posters there too.?

  • absolute rubbish, the returning officer can verify that you had many posters in areas which breach regulations and in doing so had a significant unfair advantage.

?One candidate repeatedly ignores this and campaigns there anyway?

  • that's not What happeneD

?My guess is that 'New Election' will be the 2nd choice of most people who voted for Ameet?

  • what a silly prejudiced statement to make.

As for elaborating how wrong I feel my disqualification was you shall hear that at the appeal.

Mar 02 2003 01:22

"Indeed I did read the regulations carefully and the regulations that ?I? breached Weren?t even in the regulations."

Correct. They are not in the Election Regulations. (I asked you to read the "eleciton rules"...). The restrictions for election publicity are set in the Union Clubs & Societies Policy (this absurd situation is because the Bald One merged several policies, including a Union Posters Polocy to create the C&S policy when he was a Deputy President). The policy also gives the Returning Oficer / Elections Committee blanket authority to add extra restrictions on election publicity. All of the restrictions in force were set out in the candidates' briefing pack.

"the returning officer can verify that you had many posters in areas which breach regulations and in doing so had a significant unfair advantage."

Ah! Our good friend Sen Ganesh. Yes he found me on Tuesday afternoon to say that someone had pointed out posters in 'disallowed' locations which he had pulled down. I challenged him as to which rules I had broken. He then read the rules and realised that posters were actually permitted in those locations and that he had misread the rules (just like your proposer). The Elections Committee agreed that I abided by the rules. So, far from gaining an unfair advantage, I was actually at an unfair disadvantage - the Returning Officer had taken down some my posters because he hadn't read the rules properly :-p

"what a silly prejudiced statement to make."

No. It was based on your campaign theme being that you are 'new' to the Union and that is important to have someone 'fresh'. Neither Andrew Shore or myself are exactly new to the Union (although I haven't been directly invovled this year). It was also influenced by the fact that your proposer was running around DoC collecting proxy votes and instructing them to be cast for you as 1st preference and New Election as 2nd preference.

"As for elaborating how wrong I feel my disqualification was you shall hear that at the appeal."

I look forward to it.

Mar 02 2003 08:29

?It was also influenced by the fact that your proposer was running around DoC collecting proxy votes and instructing them to be cast for you as 1st preference and New Election as 2nd preference.?

o You are such a hypocrite. Your henchmen were doing this all day around Doc and in other departments!

63. alex C   
Mar 02 2003 10:07

To come to Mustafa's defense here, i too do not think that the elections were conducted in a fair and constitutional way, but think that a re-run would do far more harm than good.

It therefore seems to me that the only sensible option is to accept the outcome of this farce, and then, whatever that outcome is, to try and sort out the regulations and the electoral system for next year so that this level of farce is not repeated.

To this end i will be presenting a paper to council next monday (whether i win or lose) in an attempt to start this process.

in a (vague) attempt at democracy... are there any specific & sensible changes that anyone would like to see, that i can consider adding to this paper?

Mar 02 2003 14:15

Not sure what sensible changes to the regulations would have to be made to avoid a repeat of all this silliness - somebody would have to enforce them, and from this discussion it sounds like only a half-a**ed effort has been made to enforce the existing regulations.

Online voting would be a nice addition/change though, if it was made secure - it would certainly prevent any allegations of people manning ballot boxes trying to influence the vote. It would also make the counting rather more simple. A system like this would obviously require some kind of login though, which raises issues about whether people would trust the system to be a secret ballot, whether we could trust the people implementing it and operating it etc. A massive can of worms. I think it would increase turnout hugely though if done properly.

Another change which I think would make hustings more fun is scrapping the policy of making all questions aimed at all candidates - this is the only time that people get to question the candidates publically, so why can't this opportunity be used to challenge or question specific points raised by individual candidates? Incidentally the regulations themselves don't say anything about this - only that "directly or indirectly relevant to the potential performance of the candidate in the post being elected", so I don't see any reason why the questions must be directed at all candidates at once. The candidates themselves could then debate with the other candidates, which would make everything much less dull.

Mar 02 2003 14:17

That should say

...only that questions should be "directly or indirectly relevant...

Mar 02 2003 14:43

How about next year a new policy is introduced scrapping virtually all of these rules. So what if one candidate can talk to a lecture theatre after a lecture. If I can talk to lecture theatre that is bigger then 1-0 to me. Every year there is a hoo hah about elections only being a popularity contest and this group of people will vote for this person. So why not go the whole hog, yep it may not be fair, but it might be a lot more fun. It also might get a lot more people voting (just out of interest even though the count hasn't happened yet, it must be known how many people actually did vote, anyone know??) As long as those that are running the elections are impartial, those that are running for election are simply subject to survival of the fittest.

Mar 02 2003 14:56

It's always going to be a popularity contest anyway. If you scrap the lecture theatre rule, then you'll end up with all the candidates touring all the lecture theatres in the run-up to voting. Although it wouldn't inherently be unfair to get rid of the rule, it creates more work for the candidates, and people will quickly become bored when they're held up at the end of the eighth lecture in a row just because somebody else is desparately trying to win a couple of votes. Net advantage - nil. So I don't think scrapping the lecture theatre rule would be a good idea at all.

68. alex C   
Mar 02 2003 15:26

The rules don't state that you can't campaign in lecture theaters - to my knowledge - but it was banned by this years elections committee after they couldn't decide whether to allow it or not, and so erred on the side of caution and banned it anyway.

i think that if people want to talk in lecture theaters, as long as they either speak after the lecture has finished or before its due to begin, then it's a good thing. people are far more likely to vote if they've actually seen and heard the person they're voting for!

69. voter   
Mar 02 2003 15:27

Online voting could never be secure - we're at IC, people would just see it as a challenge for a bored moment.

Maybe an open book test for the candidates on how they can and can't campaign?

1)Highlighting manifestos in Felix is:

a) Strictly against regulations

b) Not referenced to in any way

c) A waste of 99p of a campaign budget.

And I have to say, my vote would always go to the one who can spell and use correct grammar (not to mention capital letters) in his/her arguments......

Mar 02 2003 16:46

My comment wasn't aimed specifically at the "lecture theatre rule." And at any rate if students are bored with the umpteenth lecture visit i'm sure they would vote with their feet. I think the survival of the fittest idea in general just might make everything that little bit more exciting for people who think the union is a bit boring.

71. alex C   
Mar 02 2003 17:39

Grammar, eloquence and design are all important factors in campaign material...

i think capital letters have less importance online: as long as the grammar is there, the aesthetics of the letters themselves seem more important in all but more formal situations, like publishing articles, where traditional rules should take prescedence.

and yes, you have hit a nerve. :-p

Mar 02 2003 19:16

"You are such a hypocrite. Your henchmen were doing this all day around Doc and in other departments!"

Do you ever read anything carefully? I didn't suggest that it was wrong for students to go around asking others to proxy thier votes to them. I merely observed that the proxy votes your team were collecting were being cast to New Election as 2nd choice, as (the smaller) part of a justification for why I think RON will get most of you're second preferences.

Having said that I think the proxy vote system is open to abuse. No, I'm not alleging that anything untoward happened this year. However it is known that a certain Union Officer has a history of rigging elections with fake proxy votes. I think David Francis' system last year (where proxies had to be assigned by email, and confirmed by reply to an IC email account, ahead of the voting days) is a sound one.

Mar 02 2003 19:24

Online voting has to be the way to go. Being a geek myself (and having acted as Returning Officer for a cross-campus ballot) I know that any potential problems will be much less than for a paper ballot. Furthermore it will make it easier for students not on campus (especially clinical medics) to vote.

I do not share Voter's cynicism. Yes, we have clever people at IC. That means we have people (i.e. students in DoC) who we can get to make a bullet-proof system.

Also, the decision to not allow campaigning in lecture theatres was absurd. (And for that matter, the decision to not allow campaigning in halls of residence.) The more campaigning the better (provided all candidates are allowed to do it).

Three years ago C&G trialled electronic voting in DoC. The result was that turnout for the DoC and ISE Dep Rep was higher than ever before. Admittedly, turnout was not as good as the paper election for the Guilds exec that happened on the same day. However, Dep Rep is a lower profile post and the basic proof-of-concept was there.

ULU also have online elections. All consituent college unions are licensed to use their software (if we so wish).

Mar 02 2003 20:02

Alex (C), if you're serious about writing such a paper, I suggest reading up on last year's electiosn report by David Francis (he suggested similar chages were needed - although he managed to avoid the mess we are in this year).

It might be worth setting up an elections review group, inviting candidates, members of this year's Elections Committee and other interested parties to take part, rather than having an endless discussion at Council. David tried to set this up last year but lost interest (partly because he was involved in the same thing at ULU and partly because no-one showed any interest). I do remember him wanting myself to be on the group since with a view to creating a workable online voting system.

Mar 02 2003 20:08

The more campaigning the better - up to a point. The whole point of the rules governing campaigning is to stop things getting out of hand - this is why there is a budget limit, for instance. Otherwise we'd have some rich bastard paying for fifty cheerleaders to parachute in, dispensing free alcohol and bewitching every chap at Imperial straight to the ballot box. Which just wouldn't do at all. Other candidates would bankrupt themselves trying to compete.

If we could just put up posters anywhere, we would have posters everywhere. Elections overload - we'd get bored of it all very quickly, and trees deserve better. The candidates would spend hundreds of pounds on photocopying, and end up slashing their arms to bits with paper cuts.

Similarly if we could campaign in lecture theatres, you'd end up effectively missing college for two weeks as you toured around, boring students to death with yet another attempt to persuade people to vote. You'd shout yourself hoarse, bore people to tears and your degree would be completely f**ked.

All this complaining and bickering shows that some people are taking these elections far more seriously than they ought to. The election regulations should be there to protect more balanced candidates from over-enthusiastic nutters.

76. alex C   
Mar 02 2003 20:58

I've read Francis' report already...

Part of my paper will involve the setting up of a review group, but there are one or two changes (such as ensuring that no proposers or seconders are allowed to man ballot boxes) that i want to make a point of putting through council now.

77. amram   
Mar 02 2003 22:31

I want new elections. I believe that is what most students want as a lot of us voted against Mustafa and his sleazy, corrupt politics. Ameet was treated unfairly by union hacks who are corrupt and who are Arif supporters. If Mustafa does win in the second election fine but if he is allowed to win with ameet's disqualification still standing then he will have a difficult time running a union where the silent maority will see him as corrupt from the very start. The way he pretends to be fair and unbiased in these comment sections- while he clearly has it in for ameet- the people's choice- shows what a sleazy hack he is.

Mar 02 2003 22:48

"Silent majority"?? Hmm, given that probably at least 85% of Imperial College didn't vote at all in these elections, certainly the majority is pretty bloody silent. I don't see how anybody can talk about a "people's choice", when most of the people don't care either way. Ho hum.

Mar 02 2003 22:51

Actually amram, Mustafa is not universally loved by the current set of Union hacks.

If you look at everyone involved in the running of Elections, you will see that Mustafa has been at odds with most of them at one point or another, and the Returning Officer in particular must be a little peeved at him (given this article).

I think that the comment that Mustafa is "corrupt... and has it in for Ameet" is a tad libellous. Mustafa made a complaint which he was entitled to do. (Ameet's supporters made more complaints, i hear) The outcome of the complaint is nothing to do with him. If you have a problem with it, take it to the Returning Officer, or the Elections committee. They made the final decision, not Mustafa (he's not THAT powerful you know!)

I think the difference is that Mustafa's complaint was upheld, everyone else's was not. That's not his problem... he is the plaintiff, not the judge and jury. If he proved his case better than the defendant, then he won. If you can't see that is entirely fair, i suggest you are completely stupid and have no appreciation of a real justice system. Sour grapes is a terrible thing.

A jury of his peers decided Ameet or his agents did wrong, and the only fair solution for the other candidates was to disqualify Ameet. That is nothing to do with any of the other candidates, nor does it reflect on their campaigns. It seems to me that it is squarely at the door of whoever did wrong, not the person who pointed it out.

I suggest that a president in office who blatantly ignored the rules to get there is much much worse than a president who followed the rules and used them, whether to his advantage or not. Knowledge and adherance to the regulations will generally get you, and in this case possibly the entire Union, further than stupidity, arrogance and ignorance.

80. amram   
Mar 02 2003 23:06

Again mustafa haks are at it...

If you disqualify a candidate (especially when there were only 3) on election day and do not inform the electorate is totally undemocratic- it is not reminiscent of the US fiasco it is more like the Iraqi election where no other candidates were allowed to challenge the president. While i believe that Mustafa's "straight talking" is not very convincing-even if i was a supporter of his i would still like a re run as I wouldn't want my candidate to be tainted with an unfair election. As to the rules about campaiging in lecture theatres etc- they are ridiculous and should be scrapped!

Mar 02 2003 23:06


"union hacks who are corrupt"

Can I say how delighted I am that I and my colleagues have been labelled corrupt. Judging from the tone of your comment, presumably we are also evil, baby-eating, grandparent-murdering psychopaths.

The "union hacks" you so deride are the people who volunteer anything from 10 to 50 hours a week of their own time, in addition to pursuing their degree, to represent/organise activities for/generally help the students of this college. The members of the Executive Committee that sat as the appeals panel were quite aware of the importance of their decision and we did not make the decision we did simply by tossing a coin. It was our view that although Ameet had probably not set out with an intention to break the rules so seriously on so many occasions the rules had nonetheless been broken, whether by himself or by others working on his campaign, and his campaign derived an unfair advantage as a result. That left Elections Committee, and the Executive, with no choice but to disqualify him.

And frankly, referring to any candidate as "the people's choice" before the votes have even been counted is more than a little ridiculous.

82. Becky   
Mar 02 2003 23:30

Starbuck you bastard, the no rules or at least minimal rules, thing was my idea and you nicked it. grrrrr.

My reasoning is simple - i want a president with initiative and origniality - let it be a free for all. If you don't have the nerve or the ability to get out (or into other lecture theatres) and talk to people, or the flare to run a crowd stopping poster campaign, then i don't think you're worthy.

And it would make the elections way more fun and the returning officers job much easier

Mar 02 2003 23:32

"If you disqualify a candidate (especially when there were only 3) on election day and do not inform the electorate is totally undemocratic"

Ahhh, another common misunderstanding... If you disqualify a candidate in a preferential voting system such as Single Transferable Vote all you do is take those votes which were originally cast for the disqualified candidate, and move their choices up one place.

If you voted for a disqualified candidate, you vote would go to the second choice. If that's RON, you get a new election. If it's not, someone else gets in.

Sorry to say this, but the (wo)man with the most votes wins. That's why it's called an ELECTION. If you've been disqualified, you don't get any votes, so you don't win. Sorry, that's life, deal with it.

However saying that the candidate who does get in somehow does not have an electoral mandate, or any other such twaddle, is frankly ridiculous. STV ensures the candidate with the biggest broadest section of support wins. Sorry if it wasn't your first choice... I haven't had my first choices in every post for a few years now, and you don't see me talking s**t on discussion forums.

Ameet broke the rules (according to two levels of panel). They chose to disqualify him. He's out of the running. Live with it.

He might not have been the most popular, he might not have won, and he had no clue what the rules were (ignorance is not a defense) so let it go, at least he can come back next year.

Talking c**p about other candidates just detracts from the good points Ameet had, so shut up, please... you're not doing yourself any favours because like Seb on your favourite thread, i could sit here and argue the rules and the principle for days - i know it a damn sight better than most people, so you won't win and you won't even look good trying.

Mar 03 2003 00:13

I made "1" complaint to the Elections Committee with 6 "bullet points" to act as support for my complaint.

85. alex C   
Mar 03 2003 00:27

Amram - you want new elections, do you?

if you can provide evidence - actual physical evidence- that the elections were run in an unconstitutional manner then please do so.

if you cant do this, then shut up, stop whinging and stop being abusive to people about whom you know very little.

exec were not out to get Ameet: no-one there wanted to see him disqualified at the start. They simply felt that, in their estimation, his repeated disregard for the election rules and regulations was great enough to leave them with no other option. If he thinks this was wrong, there is always Council for him to appeal to, if he wants to.

If he decides to drop it, then drop it. If you have a larger point, that doesn't pertain to this conspiracy against Ameet, then deal with it yourself.

If you don?t like those two, there is but one option remaining: Silence yourself.

86. alex C   
Mar 03 2003 00:55

and a quick note for all those proto-hacks out there that haven't quite got the hang of the baby eating: make sure you add enough salt to the pot, and make sure that you boil them for at least 4 hours to ensure they're tender.

87. J01   
Mar 03 2003 01:38

What's the exact cost of these elections? I seem to remember it being something massive enough to make re-running the entire thing to be a complete last resort.

Amram - The whole point of certain candidates refusing to sign the papers on the evening in question was that they refused to say that the elections had been run fairly. Because to them, it was plain that they hadn't been. Hardly "sleazy and corrupt".

Plus you have the fact that the union hacks are, by definition, those who know the most about what's going on in the union, and who would be most likely to run it well. They'd care enough about the union to make a vote on their own intelligence, not worrying about friendships/ professional relationships. It is, after all, a secret ballot (not withstanding other complaints made and dismissed on that night).

Mar 03 2003 12:06

lets make a few financial assumptions:

11-13 ballot boxes, hired from the local council for ??free?? They're used in FSA elections as well, so if they are costing anything it should be split over a variety of budgets.

each ballot box opens for 8 hours, with an extra 4 hours worth of late ballot boxes -> max 108 hours of ballot box duty.

ICU pays ?4.20 an hour, so maximum of ?453.60 for manning ballot boxes.

Say 20 hours of people delivering boxes on ICU minibuses, -> ?84 wages, ?150 of bus hire, ?40 of diesel.

So lets estimate the cost of an election at ?750.

... hardly breaking the bank with a ?3.5M turnover ...

Mar 03 2003 12:35

I agree there should be a limit on spending for the reasons you have said alex. However you could always see how many freebies you could pull?

There are regulations about posters covering activities for all union clubs and societies. If posters are placed up in non designated poster places then they should be taken down anyway. Make the rule cover both (if it doesn't already.) Problem sorted

People screwing up their degrees? Well I guess most "hacks" miss a lot of college time and if your serious about being an superhack (a new term I've decided on for sabbaticals - if only they could live up to it!) then you will be doing the same. Yes it would be wrong of the Union to encourage students to miss out on anything college wise but I want a sabbatical team that are enthusiastic about their jobs - nutter or "well balanced" as long as they are competent at their jobs. And I want them show some initiative and flair in the process of getting elected. Being able to strike the balance of keeping college and campaining ticking along nicely is part of the act. As a sab you will find more constraints on your time than that - test no 1 I guess - can you hack it ('scuse the pun!)

Who says lecture theatres have to be the only way - stand on a box in the quad a la speakers corner style. Do something different, get noticed. If you have to take time out of your degree then so be it, your choice. I was chair of a club last year and A&E treasurer and to do both of those well, I had to miss quite a lot of college or miss time that I should have been doing work in. My roles included traipsing all over london to buy/repair equipment and meet people at times inconvenient to me because I saw it as wrong that students were waiting on money from the union. And I managed to sing in no less than three vocal groups on a regular basis, work three nights a week in the bar to help pay the rent (and my caffeine addiction), keep a busy social calendar, sit on BAG, sing for RAG and numerous other things as well as finshing several pieces of course work and walking away with a good 2:1. So I have NO sympathy for anyone who can't strike the balance. And I want a Sab team that can.

90. alex C   
Mar 03 2003 13:27

I think that the financial constraint is a necessary one, to ensure that elections are not simply won by the person with the deepest pockets for a campaign, as having money personally isn't much of a qualification to be a Sab. That should only count towards things that have been paid for, however: If you know someone that's willing to print posters for you free of charge, why shouldn't you be able to take advantage of this fact? Surely the ability to network, and having contacts through london/college are useful traits for a sab to have.

I'm with starbuck on this one: if one wants to spend time that one should be doing college work campaigning, then why not? You should be able to exercise your own judgement over your time allocation, and not be dictated to.

Mar 03 2003 14:20

I'd just like to qualify that by "anyone" I mean anyone who is running for election.

Mar 03 2003 17:46

I'd just like to say that after Starbuck's penultimate post, the Catholic Church has decided to canonise him/her. Step forward St. Arbuck, rise to be patron saint of 'martyrs for others' and ICu choir...

On a complimentary note, well done everyone for silencing Amram - it takes quite a lot of doing, as others have indeed discovered on other threads!

Mar 04 2003 11:03

surely the whole thing was unconstitutional though?

I mean, the elections committee didn't meet, which means there were no meetings to minute, which means any rules Ganesh made up about halls etc are not 'written down', which means our favourite Presidential candidate shouldn't have been disqualified!

There. Re-run. End of.

Mar 04 2003 13:58

I posted a reply but due to shennanigans with the web server it seems to have gone walkies.

Anyway, I said: Ameet was disqualified because his campaign broke rules which were "written down" before campaigning even began. Hence the lack of physical meetings of the elections committee is not the cause of his disqualification. Straws. Clutching.

If the elections were re-ran, the turnout would be lower. God knows, even I don't think I can really be that bothered to vote again. A lower number of votes would hardly make this election more constitutional.

Mar 04 2003 14:44

Your excellency, I shall graciously decline your wonderful offer as I think St. Arbuck already exists. In deed there are many churches in London named after him/her but most of the parishoners seem to be more concerned with coffee and cakes than actual worship. Partly the reason I got the name (caffeine addiction you see) and my vague resemblance to a character from Battle Star Galactica

Continuing with the Ecclesiastical thread: I've decided to give up Live! for Lent as I spend whay too much time posting on here and not doing any work. Speak to you all after Easter!

Mar 10 2003 11:04

Is this whole elections farce being stage-managed?

I mean, look at the thread above. You'd have thought that Ameet and Mustafa were at each others throats. You would certainly not expect them to be on speaking terms. Yet several hacks spotted Mustafa in the JCR advising Ameet on how to go about appealing his disqualification. It's even made this week's issue of London Student.

Something fishy going on? I think we should be told!

Mar 10 2003 11:32

Let's not forget that Mustafa and Sen are (despite what goes on public) still, allegedly, good friends from their time together on Dinesh's "mafia" C&G Exec. Could they have planned this together.

The plot thickens.

Mar 11 2003 13:34


This is why IC guys generally don't get any. I can't believe how many muppets are on this damn list! (not all of you, you know yourselves muppets) You all take yourselves so seriously as well. How can you all consistently fail to see that a LARGE proportion of people find you irrelevant (hence the low election turn outs) I read the thread with increasing incredulity, such passion! About? Honestly, truly, dispassionately think about what VALUE to the average person at IC the union or other such bodies that meet and intellectually masturbate each other over rules and constitutions and what not have given to students at IC. Its rather low, especially in proportion to the amount of noise you lot make. You spend so much time wanking each other off you don't even realise how disconnected you are from the population. Even when you read this you won't take it on board, cos you really think you know what's right.

I feel ill right now, I'll come back and slag u guys off later. In the meantime why don't u overexcite your muppet selves posting "witty" replies full of in jokes and rules to me. Unfortunately I'm rubber, and your glue.....

he he he he

F**king muppets.

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