By David Anderson

As the first week of campaigning for this year’s Officer Elections draws to a close, we now have a much clearer idea of who our candidates are, what their manifestos entail and just how they plan to implement their policies.

Candidates and their campaign teams will have enjoyed their leafleting far more today, as blue skies and tropical temperatures (well, 15°C…) meant it was well and truly t-shirt weather on the concourse. It’s hard to believe that this time last year the campaigns were disrupted by snow storms.

When the sun went down, though, it was time for night two of Forge Debates. This evening the Women’s, Education, Welfare and Activities Officer candidates took to the stage, and it was nice to see the Returning Officers for some of these roles in attendance to watch their potential successors battle it out.

The Forge TV crew hard at work during Forge Debates. Image: Ximena Burns-Hunt

Four of the five candidates for Women’s Officer attended what was a very civilized debate, with all four agreeing on the importance of increasing the amount of compulsory consent talks. As the Women’s role also represents LGBT+ and BME students, though, it was good to hear a broad discussion of how the candidates would tackle issues affecting all these areas.

Next up were the candidates for Education Officer. If you had a pound for every time the words ‘hidden costs’ and ‘free education’ were mentioned during the first half of this debate, you probably wouldn’t have to worry much about your finances at all. But the discussion did eventually move on, with last year’s lecturer strikes, mental health support and access to computers and study space all being discussed.

Two of the four candidates for Welfare Officer have dropped out of the race, so the stage felt quite empty when Beren Maddison and Sadie Base stepped up to discuss their policies. But it phased neither and the pair engaged in a respectful debate as current Welfare Officer Katharine Swindells watched on.

This Forge Debates pundits discussing the candidates. Image: Ximena Burns-Hunt

On the other hand, the Activities Officer race still has so many candidates that they couldn’t all fit on the stage. Eight of the 11 candidates were able to make it to Forge Debates, and were split into two groups of four. In the interests of fairness, both groups were asked the same questions.

So, we’ve now seen roundtable discussions on Forge Radio and Forge Debates on Forge TV for each role. You can re-live tonight’s event as it happened by reading our Forge Debates live blog or you can read our full report here.

Five candidates have dropped out of the race since Monday, meaning we now have 34 students running for the eight roles. There’s still a long way to go, so stick with us for all the latest on our rolling live blog and at forgetoday.com/elections.

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