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Poll for YUSU Big Student Debate motion pulled after voting error

Image: the University of York Students' Union (YUSU)
Image: the University of York Students' Union (YUSU)
Image: the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU)

A poll to decide the topic for the final Big Student Debate of the year was pulled on Friday after the online voting system erroneously suggested that over 12,000 students had voted in favour of a single motion.

An error in the voting system saw over 12,400 votes cast in favour of the motion, “This house believes that a vote on the Brexit deal is anti-democratic” before staff at the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) took the poll offline.

Students at the University of York were invited to vote to choose a motion for the final Big Student Debate of the academic year, which will take place on June 4th. Motions were available to see on Mentimeter.

The Big Student Debate, introduced this year by YUSU’s Community & Wellbeing Officer, Mia Shantana Chaudhuri-Julyan, features York students debating prominent topics on campus in front of a student audience.

Potential topics of this term’s debate included racism in the higher education sector, the scope of the ‘#MeToo’ movement and the relationship between immigration policy and the national economy.

Other motions related more to YUSU, asking students whether white, male students serving as chairmen of college common room committees should be blocked from contesting the role of YUSU President in the 2019 Officer Elections and whether there should be an all-female shortlist for the same role.

Students were able to vote for their motions on Thursday 10th May. Fewer than fifty votes had been cast by the end of the day. However, by approximately 10:00am on Friday 11th May, over 12,400 votes had been cast in favour of the Brexit motion. This number, around two thirds of the student population at York, is over double the turnout of the most recent YUSU Officer elections. In comparison, the second-most popular motion had earned only sixteen votes.

The Yorker observed that, in the late hours of Thursday evening, the Brexit motion received votes at a rate of approximately ten a minute, though this rate of voting may have increased.

Henry Dyer, Editor of The Lemon Press, dedicated several Tweets to the subject of the Mentimeter poll. Shortly after the poll was taken down, Dyer Tweeted: “RIP, gone but not forgotten” with an image of the vote count, standing at 12,474.

The error in the voting system follows a previous error on the night of the first Big Student Debate. Audience members were invited to vote on the motion before and after the evening’s proceedings. However, over double the votes were cast at the end of the debate and the number continued to rise as the results were declared.

The first Big Student Debate, which was filmed by York Student Television (YSTV), took place last term and asked whether society “misunderstands the challenges faced by Generation Z.”

Tickets to this term’s Big Student Debate can be found here.