BY TARA McEVOY Tensions surrounding the 2013 elections have flared on social media. Sarah Wright, 2012 candidate for the position of VP Welfare with Queen’s Students’ Union (and current NUS-USI Education and Welfare Officer), used her personal Facebook page to express concerns over plagiarism of material from her manifesto. In a status posted on Wednesday February 27, Wright wrote, “It’s truly enlightening reading what is essentially my VP Welfare manifesto… with someone else’s face on it”. Later in the same statement, she added, “Student politics is much dirtier than ‘real’ politics, that’s for sure”. Her views were supported by Chloe Minish, who applied for the same position last year. Minish suggested that certain policies outlined in a current manifesto appeared to have been “directly lifted” from the manifesto of Jessica Caldwell, who had been in the running for the position of 2012/2013 VP Campaigns and Communications. Rebecca Sheldon, President of the QUB Politics Society, hit back at these allegations – labelling Wright’s speculation ‘careerist’. The accusations of Wright and Minish are believed to have been directed towards candidates on the ‘Student Action’ ticket, as the ‘#backinstudents’ ticket had not released their manifesto at the time of Wright’s statement. Wright confirmed that her words were not directed towards an independent candidate, but has not provided clarification on which candidate exactly she believes to be at fault. Speaking to The Gown on her decision to vent her frustration on the social network, Wright addressed the view that current candidates may simply have looked towards her manifesto for inspiration, remaining sceptical of this explanation: “Obviously, I would be chuffed if these
plans and ideas actually came to fruition but these are student elections, they aren’t always won on policy and that policy isn’t always implemented”. When questioned on whether it was reasonable to make such allegations – as a few key student issues are known to crop up every year, and will continue to do so – Wright continued, “Of course, [when campaigning] I read through previous manifestos, council reports etc., but I tried to do something different or improve on policies already in place – I wasn’t handed a list of policy ideas and told to go with it”.