What is the Leadership Race and Who’s Running?

The Leadership race has begun and you may have seen people campaigning on campus. Here is our rundown of the event, who’s nominated, and what it means for students on campus.

What Is It?

The Leadership Race is the University of Essex’s annual election for its full-time sabbatical roles and part-time community roles. The sabbatical officers each cover an area important to students and will work to improve these areas whereas the community officers each represent a community of students and will work to support this community.

The Leadership Race is important because those voted in really do have the power to make a difference. An important part of the sabbatical officer’s job role is to work on the Big Plan; the key topics that students have voted are something that needs to be worked on that the SU will be driven to improve throughout the academic year. For this academic year, the topics were environment, mental health, transport, cost of living, food on campus and courses. This year’s officers have made some big changes, including making the move to plastic-free sandwich packaging, creating a service ‘flowchart’ so those struggling with mental health issues can be instantly directed to the right service for their needs, meeting with First Bus to arrange better services for students, removing the £20 Essex Blades Pass, adding desserts to the SU Bar menu, and pushing for the repair of the paternoster elevator. Next year’s Big Plan is now in its final stages, and this leadership race will determine who will be working to make the student’s wishes happen.

What Roles are Available and Who’s Running?

The full-time roles are a year-long paid contract, meaning that those undertaking these roles will need to take a gap year between their studies (or after if they’re graduating this year).

Full-Time Roles

SU President

The SU President will lead the SU and have the key part of working with the university and sabbatical officers to ensure students are being heard. The SU President is the chair of the trustee board, meaning they have responsibility for the SU’s financial security.

Running for this role this year is:

Molly Purcell

“Molly Dot… hits the spot… round two!”

Molly, a BA Sociology graduate, is this year’s VP Services & Engagement and was last year’s Women’s Officer, so is no stranger to the Leadership Race. Molly has previously been a supervisor in The Kitchen and has been involved in several societies such as Show Choir, Theatre Arts and Politics. Molly’s involvement in this year’s Big Plan included being part of the team working towards improving transport and food.

You can read their full statement here.

Jake Painter

“Democracy – Transparency – Accountability”

Jake has not only been a member of Student Parliament this year, but has also worked in the SU’s retail department for three years. Jake is an avid supporter of democracy and has previously worked to remove the policy of no manifestos for the sabbatical elections (last year, manifestos were removed from the Leadership Elections to prevent runners from making false promises), now runners are presented with questions to answer in a statement. Parliament can also call for referendums thanks to a motion that Jake put forward.

You can read their full statement here.

Uzge Saleem

“From you, by you, for you.”

Uzge is from Pakistan and studied as an undergraduate student there, this experience was key to understanding the importance of Student Unions due to the lack of them in Pakistani universities. Uzge’s ambitions as SU President revolve around strengthening the bond between students and the SU, including launching new schemes and programmes.

You can read their full statement here.

East 15 President

The East 15 President represents students on the Loughton Campus. It’s a similar role to the SU President in that the East 15 President would be working to encourage students into the goings on of the Union.

Running for this role this year is:

Ibraheem Toure

“Together we aspire, together we achieve.”

Ibraheem aspires to bring back East 15’s own character and personality by organising events and supporting both East 15 students and its officers. Ibraheem aspires to reinvent the SU so it can provide the best services to students and build a better relationship with them.

You can read their full statement here.

Magdalena Mowinska

Magdalena had not yet uploaded a manifesto at the time this article was written.

VP International

The VP international represents the issues that international students face and works to make sure the SU is representing these students and their cultures and beliefs. This includes working with the International Students’ Association, making sure the SU’s activities, facilities and services are reaching international students, ensuring programmes and events are organised specifically for international students, and more.

Running for this role this year is:

Alexandru Ilie

“Toss a vote to your future. Alex for VP International, designed to make changes, engineered to last.”

Alexandru is the only nomination for this role. A masters student studying Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security, Alexandru is from Romania and has previously been Chairman of the International Student Association, President of the Romanian Society, a Vteam project coordinator and SU Learn Frontrunner.

You can read their full statement here.

VP Education

The VP Education is responsible for ensuring academic policies in the SU represents its members, this includes sitting on committees and working with the SU to resolve issues that students have reported are affecting their quality of education.

Running for this role this year is:

Mark Kiley

“It’s time to Mark your Education.”

Mark is a 3rd year Politics student who is currently the Colchester Union Chair and says this experience means they know the workings of the SU inside out and is already acquainted with the amount of work ethic required.

You can read their full statement here.

Farzad Vaziri

Farzad had not yet uploaded a manifesto at the time this article was written.

VP Student Experience

The VP Student Experience overseas student activities and opportunities in order to create a successful student experience. This means representing Essex Blades and the Societies Guild, chairing Essex Blades and Societies Guild meetings, supporting the Societies Team and Sports Team and raising issues around students’ extra-curricular experience.

Running for this role this year is:

Liv Matthews

“Enjoying your time at university is arguably as important as your degree! Though continuing to improve Societies, VTeam and Sport, we can increase the value of YOUR student experience.”

Liv has been a part of the University of Essex since 2016 through studying Economics, being a member of the Essex Blades Lacrosse team, being Social Secretary and is currently a Vice President, Women’s Vice Captain and Communications Officer and Events Officer for the Blades Executive Committee.

You can read their full statement here.

Demetra Cojocariu-Turcu

“Don’t settle for less. Vote for Demi, she’s the best!”

Demetra is a third-year Criminology with Social Psychology Student and is also President of the Romanian Society and Treasurer of the Photography Society. Demetra says that these experiences would make a successful VP Student Experience to represent and support societies, sports clubs and VTeam.

You can read their full statement here.

Mohammad Rahimi

“We don’t build hope, we build future, more activities mean more success.”

Mohammad is currently a Life Science Society President which has brought experience in organising activities and creating a good relationship with students.

You can read their full statement here.

Alex Leney

Alex had not yet uploaded a manifesto at the time this article was written.

VP Welfare

The VP Welfare (formally VP Community & Welfare) ensures that SU is working to develop and support welfare and ensuring that liberation officers and staff associated with student welfare are being supported.

Running for this role this year is:

Luisa Surdu

“110% true brutal commitment.”

Luisa has stated they are a ‘massive Human Rights nerd and absolute bookworm’. Luisa has been a VTeam session leader, secretary for Amnesty, Human Rights Society President and an individual representative on Student Parliament.

You can read their full statement here.

Jahnvi Nagpal

“Just when you thought you’d seen the last of me.”

Jahnvi is a finally year Law with Human Rights student and says mental health should be considered just as important as physical health. Jahnvi has worked as a Residents’ Assistant and Senior Residents’ Assistant so has a lot of knowledge on the wellbeing services on campus as well as being mental health first aid trained.

You can read their full statement here.

Samra Saddique

“Samra Saddique will make you happyique. Your welfare, my priority. A vote for me is a vote for you!”

Samra is a second-year Law student from Manchester and has been an ISA Project Officer, a Wellbeing Ambassador and Student Representative. As well as being a Wellbeing Ambassador offering the support, Samra has been a student receiving the support in the past and wants to make students more aware of what’s available.

You can read their full statement here.

Vinnosh Jaya Kumar

“Making Welfare a priority for every student all day, every day.”

Vinnosh is a third-year Law student who has also been a course representative, LGBQ+ Officer in the 2018/2019 academic year and Retail Supervisor in The Kitchen. Vinnosh was inspired to run for this role based of their own and his friends’ mental health experiences.

You can read their full statement here.

VP Community & Engagement

The VP Community & Engagement (formally VP Services & Engagement) is responsible for the methods that students and the SU can use to communicate with one another and ensuring that members are able to give feedback and help shape the SU.

Running for this role this year is:

Adrian Tejan-Jalloh

“I actually give a sh*t!”

Adrian is a second-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student who moved to England from Norway sixteen years ago. Adrian is the Local Leader of the Association for Norwegian Students Abroad at Essex and has been has been Session Leader in the Refugee Teaching Program, Leader of the Youth County Council and leader of its International Group.

You can read their full statement here.

Daniel Seorici

“I am quite loud when using my theatre voice, so how about you vote for me and I get to put that to good use? Remember: Dan can!”

Daniel is a third-year Drama student and has been a Student Representative working on the Big Plan this year and says that their drama background has given them a big enough voice to support students’ issues that might otherwise go unheard.

You can read their full statement here.

Part-Time Roles

Part-time community officers have an unpaid year-long role of representing the issues that their communities face and making sure the SU addresses these issues. This involves holding meetings for their community, running activities and events, and raising awareness for community issues.

LGBQ+ Officer

Phoenix Chilvers

“Developing our community one gay at a time.”

Phoenix is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student who is currently an LGBTQ+ Representative on Student Parliament but wants to increase their involvement with their community by being the representing officer.

You can read their full statement here.

Asian Officer

Yi Shan Lim

“Equality for all.”

Yi Shan is a second-year Law with Business student from Malaysia who is currently an ISA Marketing Office and Student Conduct Committee panel member. Yi Shan wants to make Asian students feel more comfortable and safe at the University of Essex so that they have equal opportunities in whatever they’re taking part in.

You can read their full statement here.

Black Officer

Andrea Curtis

“Vibrance, greatness, creativity and resiliance.”

Andrea wants to help support black students in tackling the challenges they face and celebrate diversity within the community. Andrea wants to do this by supporting initiatives, fundraising events and pushing for more uplifting experiences for Essex students.

You can read their full statement here.

Women’s Officer

Dolly Okeowo

“People give up their power by thinking they don’t have any – Alice Walker.”

Dolly is the president of the Feminist Society and a Women’s Representative on Student Parliament. Dolly wants to focus on misogyny on both campus and in the curriculum and expresses that women of colour and Trans women should be encouraged to tell their stories as some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

You can read their full statement here.

Mature Students Officer

Somdep Dey

“Mature students need to be heard, and changes being made on and around campus for their benefit and wellbeing. I will make sure this happens.”

Somdip is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering who has felt out of place in an environment surrounded by much younger students. Somdip offers support for mature students who may be feeling alienated or struggling to juggle university work with outside life.

You can read their full statement here.

Sam Howlett

Sam is a second-year undergraduate Law student and is the current Mature Student Community Officer. Sam feels that mature students are underrepresented and found it difficult to fit in or find support for mature students.

You can read their full statement here.

Southend Black Officer

Hannah Akhalu

Hannah had not yet uploaded a manifesto at the time this article was written.

Unfortunately, no one is running for the following roles this year:

  • VP Southend
  • Trans Student Officer
  • Union Chair Colchester
  • Union Chair Southend
  • Union Chair Loughton
  • SU Services Officer
  • Students with Disabilities Officer
  • Southend Student Parent Officer
  • Southend Asian Officer
  • Southend Women’s Officer
  • Southend Mature Officer
  • Southend LGBT+ Officer


Any student can vote in the SU Leadership Elections, however students who are not a part of the communities that the Communities Officers represent cannot vote for those communities but can self define if they believe they are a member of these communities.

Voting polls open on Thursday 5th March at 12.00pm and then close at 12.00pm on Tuesday 10th March. Rebel will then showcase the results at 5.30pm that same day with interviewees with the winners the following day.

Feature image was taken by Jess Clayton-Berry. All images of candidates, including information, was taken from the SU Official Site.

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