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University of East London students quiz election candidates


Event to encourage more students to vote

Students at the University of East London had a chance to quiz local candidates standing in the general election when they took part in a hustings event organised by the University in a bid to encourage more students to vote.

It was the first such hustings event organised by the University’s Cass School of Education and Communities and was part of a series of events encouraging students to register to vote. The focus of the University’s Cass school on the general election has already paid off, with 50 students becoming voting advocates earlier in the week. 

Taking part in the hustings event at the University Square Stratford campus (on Thursday, 21 November) were three East Ham election candidates - Conservative Scott Pattenden, Labour's Stephen Timms and Liberal Democrat Michael Fox, plus Green Party candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster, Zack Polanksi. The candidates discussed a variety of issues with the topic of Brexit high on the agenda.  Other issues included the question of a second referendum, how Brexit would affect EU students’ status, the importance for students to register for settled status to retain their rights and mental health care and funding.

The candidates also touched on the importance of diversity and trust in politicians.
Following an animated introduction by each of the candidates, many of the University students attending went on to probe the panel with incisive questions on a variety of topics.

Student Diana Ramirez (38) studying special education commented afterwards that she was very impressed with the hustings event. “I have always voted Labour, but I am now thinking about voting for the Greens,” she said.

Psychology student Nora Duale from Newham added that she thought the event had gone well and gave her a chance to find out more information about the parties. “I have always been a Labour voter and this has not influenced my ideas, but it has been interesting,” she said.

Richard Harty, acting head of the Cass School of Education and Communities, said, “It was good to see that students brought their passion and incisive questions to the day. I think it has helped to encourage more students to vote.

“In Cass we have been busy organising a series of events to encouraging students to register to vote. Only last week our school hosted Michael Abiodun Olatokun, the head of public and youth engagement at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, who explored the concept of democracy and citizenship with our students and supported their thinking on developing approaches to boost voter registration in their local communities.

“Education is more than simply teaching in classrooms, it encompasses all aspects of work within the community from social work to international development. Courses within the Cass School reflect this and all share at their core the importance of engaging with local and international communities. We are proud to have hosted this first husting event and to have offered our students an opportunity to debate with candidates.

“And it’s as much thanks to our staff, Micky Levoguer and Francesca Zanatta, who organised it, as to the students that gave up their time to attend, that this event has been such a success.”