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YUSU Elections 2016: BME Officers Candidates – Gabriella Obeng Nyarko and Sophie Flinders

Credit: YUSU
Credit: YUSU
Credit: YUSU

Gabriella Obeng Nyarko (left) and Sophie Flinders (right) are running for the joint position of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) candidates. They are second year students who have taken part in activism on a large scale and feel that they are well-practised to take on the role.

Tell us about yourselves.

Gabriella: I’m a second year student doing Politics and International Relations. I’m involved in the Feminist Society, ACS and Socialist Society!

Sophie: I’m a second year student doing maths and philosophy. I’m the BME officer for Alcuin college, and also part of Feminist Society and Socialist Society. I’m not actually involved in ACS, I just turn up to their events!

What inspired you to run for the position?

Gabriella: Well Sophie initially asked me to join her in running for BME because it’s a two-person job. I was hesitant at first but I then realised there’s just so much here to do for BME students, when i realised that DSA and maintenance grants cuts have a huge impact on BME students, I knew this role would be the one where I could try and push for more. In general there just needs to be a better support system for BME students, and I felt that inspired me to run because I felt I could do that if I get elected.

Sophie: Over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of people politicised over things like police brutality and the rise in islamophobia in the UK. I want to help start up and maintain an organised response from BME students at York and I think the best way to do this is as a BME officer.

Why do you think you are the best candidates for the position?

Gabriella: Sophie and I are very very passionate about issues regarding the BME, we are up to date with current affairs, reliable, confident and we strive to get things done. As well as this, we have both been involved in a lot of online and offline activism such as doing workshops, organising events, going to protests, doing interviews and so on. Like I know people say “oh, I’m passionate” and it sounds cliche but in this case, this job is something that suits us both.

Sophie: We have the experience of putting on events at the uni and else where. We dedicate a lot of our spare time to supporting campaigns that the NUS Black students have run.

Which policy are you most excited about?

Gabriella: The most exciting policy personally is putting BME York on the national map by working with the NUS black students campaign, this way we can submit loads of motions, create a good influence and actually get our voices heard, this way we do have a better chance of making sure BME students here at York have their needs met.

Sophie: The policy I’m most looking forward to putting into practice is meeting BME people at York and aiming to build a community that is aware of BME issues.

Who, if anyone, are you backing for YUSU President?

Gabriella: Ananna! I know she would seriously do a great job at being the YUSU President because she is transparent, there are no ulterior motives with her – what you see is what you get. And I think that’s really important for when students need accountability and explanations. She’s also really hard working and dedicated, so I’m backing her.

Sophie: I think Ananna would make a great YUSU President because she is already familiar with YUSU being Women’s Officer last year and I believe she genuinely wants to do what is best for students here.


Voting is now open and will close on the 19th of February. 

Interview conducted by Grace Parker.