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Oxford Union Town Hall TT24: Meet the candidates

Oxford Union elections for Trinity term 2024 are around the corner and Cherwell has interviewed both presidential candidates to find out more about their plans and ideas. This election follows recent controversy about the inclusivity and diversity in the Union, which involved an open letter, resignations, and all three major Union committees passing motions declaring the Union to be “institutionally racist”. The two candidates running for President, Izzy Horrocks-Taylor and Israr Khan, share their views on this and how they intend to handle the aftermath. Yet, keep in mind as you read: for all the racket and ruckus Union elections provoke, neither of the last two had a say in the final outcome anyway…

Introduce yourself briefly

Izzy: Izzy Horrocks-Taylor, she/her, Balliol, second year, classics

Israr: Israr Khan, he/him, Regent’s Park, DPhil, law

What commitments and experiences do you have outside the Union?

Izzy: I was an avid school debater, participating in Oxford Schools and going to finals of public speaking nationals.

Israr: I’m a law tutor. I have quite a few years of experience in a professional capacity, having run multiple programmes and organised conferences as director of different companies. 

What’s the top reason you’re running for President?

Izzy: Aside from caring about debate, I’m really passionate because I’ve always felt like there’s a lack of female representation on committees and in our term cards, and I really want to try to correct that, such as through handling the membership drive.

Israr: I grew up watching Union debates and they played a significant role in my life, but as I became part of the Union, I see there’s a lot of issues that recently resurfaced with the Union passing motions that it is “institutionally racist.” I think there’s a genuine way to make a change by winning with your entire candidacy where you can then have the power to do something concrete.

What’s one thing you would change or improve about the Union?

Izzy: I’d like to make sure as many perspectives as possible are heard. One thing I’m already doing is reviving the debate magazine to give our members the chance to contribute their thoughts and foster more debate.

Israr: I want to change and reform the rules that can be weaponised against members. I am determined to reform because I’ve not seen any genuine commitment or those who tried to commit have been sidelined.

If you could invite any three speakers to the Union, who would they be?

Izzy: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michelle Obama, and Taylor Swift.

Israr: Malala, Elon Musk, and Jacinda Ardern.

What’s one thing you like about your opponent?

Izzy: I admire his passion and his care for the society.

Israr: She’s an incredibly kind person and has been on committee for a while.

Following recent discussions surrounding overuse of election tribunals and structural issues, how do you plan to manage your campaign and potential aftermaths?

Izzy: The culture around elections has become very litigious and there is a gross lack of transparency. I think there needs to be an independent review of all disciplinary processes done by a KC completely unaffiliated with any associated societies as well as a serious cultural change. I don’t believe in creating a culture of toxicity purely for the outcome of ambition.

Israr: I’m genuinely scared that even if I win I’d be tribunalled, where the system and the rules would be used against me. I’ve been very careful this whole term, intentionally not breaking any rules, but I still have that fear that things might be fabricated against me. I want it to be a democratic process of fair competition.

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