The Conservative and Liberal Student union attempted to run against CBS Students: “We never had a fair shot”
While CBS Students were handing out free coffee to voters, The Conservative and Liberal Students (CLS) couldn’t even enter the building to campaign during the CBS election 2021. “We really had no chance to campaign on equal terms,” says President of CLS, Casper Øhlers. CBS Students agrees that the process should be improved for the next election.
Even though CBS Students aims to be an organization that represents all opinions at CBS, other players are allowed to challenge its position. In theory at least. The reality of attempting to campaign against CBS Students for the annual CBS election is quite different, according to Casper Øhlers.
He is a student on the BSc in International Business and Politics program at CBS and also the President of The Conservative and Liberal Students (CLS).
“We were met by a system that clearly didn’t anticipate anyone running against CBS Students. We were denied a stand and the possibility to put up posters – or even just enter CBS to talk about our cause,” he says.
CLS is a conservative liberal student union that, in its own words “has a different and more specialized target group than CBS Students, which tries to represent all students”.
They campaigned for all lectures to be recorded, more transparency during the acceptance process for master’s programs and a higher and more homogenous baseline in economics classes across HA Bachelor’s programs at CBS.
“But we couldn’t really present our views on the same terms as CBS Students. While they were handing out free coffee for people who voted, we could only campaign via social media,” Casper Øhlers explains.
The Conservative and Liberal Students applied for a stand about three weeks before the election, but were refused by the Event and Room Allocation Office (LOK), with the explanation that they hadn’t been approved as an organization by CBS Students.
“I don’t think it is very democratic that you have to get approved by the organization you are trying to beat in an election,” Casper Øhlers points out.
CLS therefore complained about not being allowed a place on campus and told the acting President of CBS Inger Askehave that a reelection was warranted.
“We did not get our reelection, but her reply through a lawyer was that some procedures in the election should change in the future. We are looking forward to the next election when we will hopefully be able to run on equal terms with CBS Students,” Casper Øhlers explains.
CBS Students agrees the process should be improved
CBS Students agrees that it should not be responsible for allocating stands.
“Of course, a competitor in the university election should not have to deal with CBS Students in any matters regarding the process. Although we agree that this process should be improved, it is not up to us. The CBS election committee has already tasked LOK with improving the process,” President of CBS Students, Mikkel Wallind says.
CBS Students is therefore not willing to take responsibility for the fact that CLS was not allocated a stand.
“At the end of the day, LOK decides who gets a booth and who does not. CBS Students speeds up the verification process for student organizations registered under us but does not determine who is permitted a stand,” says Mikkel Wallind and adds:
“There is also something to be said about the level of preparation that CBS Students puts into the election campaign. We sort out bookings and practicalities with LOK months before the election. This did not seem to be the case for CLS. Regardless of that, we are standing with CLS when we say the process should be more equal and democratic.”
No bad blood
Casper Øhlers also wished that CLS had been better prepared for the process.
“Looking back, I wish we had applied for a stand months instead of weeks in advance,” he says.
And even though CLS criticizes the election process, it is confident that no deliberate attempt was made to sabotage its chances.
“I’m convinced that CBS Students hasn’t sat down and thought this is how we can sabotage the election for CLS. But I think the process shows that we need to make a new procedure that enables other student organizations to have a say and to run for elections in a more democratic manner,” Casper Øhlers concludes.