Nadia Mehdi is vice president for societies and activities at Edinburgh University Students' Association, who are taking part in our diversifying the movement pilot this year - improving intersectional work across students' unions.
Naida led a workshop, using her experiences as a case study for others who wanted to diversify the candidates putting themselves forward for elections at their unions.
· Why did you feel it was important to diversify election candidates? What problems were you seeing?
At Edinburgh we were finding that our elected representatives weren’t actually representing the student body.
People from minority groups and historically oppressed groups weren’t standing for election, but they were a significant proportion of the student body, so we needed to make sure we had equal representation.
· What were your first steps to try and address these problems?
The most important first step was getting buy-in from staff, to get them to see it really was a problem. Then we ran a load of workshops to make sure everyone could feed in their ideas, so it was really collaborative.
· What were some of the difficulties faced in trying to diversify your elections?
It’s probably the confidence of potential candidates – actually making people believe they can stand in the elections, and win.
· Tell us a little bit about your next steps.
We’re planning to do a lot more electoral training for liberation groups, and trying to monitor how many of those individuals actually go on to stand in elections.
· Has it had a positive impact? Would you encourage other students’ unions to adopt your practices?
Yeah. The students that have heard about what we’re doing are really keen on making elections more accessible and inclusive. We’d definitely encourage other students’ unions to take similar measures or else we won’t get equal representation across the student movement.
If you'd like to find out more about our work in diversifying the movement, contact Emma Green