It has been revealed that the Union spends thousands of pounds on advertising for the Leadership Race elections each year.
This year, the Union has spent £7,000 encouraging students to vote for the new student Executive and Leeds Student Editor, a sum that would take an Essentials worker 1,400 hours to earn.
This figure has been released just weeks after this newspaper reported a 98 per cent fall in the Union’s financial surplus, due to a major drop in takings from shops and venues.
Each of the 50 candidates running for leadership positions is given £40 to spend on self-promotion, making up £2,000 of the £7,000 budget. Another £800 can be accounted for as the cost of the billboard on Hyde Park corner.
Clear Channel, the operator of the space, quoted this figure as the cost of a fortnight’s rent of the space. Other costly campaigning initiatives employed to persuade students to vote include the offer of free Fruity tickets for the first 2000 voters.
The organisation’s website promotes the elections to show the democratic structure of the Union, stating, “Every year, the Leadership Race gives students the opportunity to elect six of their peers to lead Leeds University Union. Last year’s campus-wide ballot saw over 8,000 people taking part.”
Union Affairs Officer, Antony Haddley, responded: “Leeds currently holds the national record for student election turnout. To achieve this, the Union has invested in growing the Leadership Race, and I personally think it’s an extremely worthy investment.”
Words: Ellie Parkes
Photo: Leo Garbutt