bust that jargon.

With elections nominations open, you’re bound to have heard a whole bunch of complicated terms being banded around. We want elections to be as accessible to as many people as possible, so to help you jump straight in, we’ve come up with a list of words that we think might need explaining a little more. So here’s a quick guide to help you un-muddle any complex campaigning conversation with ease.


The slip where a voter places their vote and marks their choice. Unlike national elections, we use online ballot papers during the voting period.


The act of attempting to gain votes in an election through a variety of means, including using social media, banners, and talking to students.


A person running for a role.


Similar to campaigning, this is the attempt to gain votes from the electorate.


Using materials in order to create banners, posters, and other collateral in order to campaign.


The individuals able to vote in an election. At Royal Holloway, this means any student who is a member of the Students’ Union. Unless you have opted out, you are automatically a member of the SU, and are therefore eligible to vote.

Ex Officio

Certain roles are automatically given membership of Executives and committees due to the role/position they hold. An example of this is that the President and College Principal are ex officio members of College Council.


A form of interview or debate for candidates. This often takes shape in the form of a Question Time event, held during the voting period - ours is on 5 March.


The individual who currently holds a role. For example, Jack O'Neill is currently the incumbent for the position of President.


A document outlining the aims of the candidate, including policies and goals for their year in office.


The process of putting yourself forward for a position. Once you nominate yourself you will become a candidate.

NUS Delegate

A student representative from the University who represents Royal Holloway Students’ Union at the National Union of Students Conference.

Officer Elect

A newly elected individual who will soon be beginning their term, they can also be referred to as an incoming officer.

Outgoing Officer

An individual currently occupying a role or position, who will leave at the end of their term.

Returning Officer

The individual responsible for ensuring fairness in the elections. For the main elections, this role is filled by a representative from the National Union of Students, and the role of Deputy Returning Officer will be filled by the Students’ Union’s Head of Membership Support and Engagement, assisted by the Student Voice Manager.

R.O.N (Re-open Nominations)

An option on each of the roles. This is selected when a voter does not wish to vote for any of the candidates, and instead believes that nominations should be reopened for a new batch of potential candidates.

Sabb / sabbatical officer

One of the four Officer positions (President, VP Education etc.) that you can run for. Each Officer holds their position for one year, or two if they run for re-election and are successful. They lead on the Union’s campaigns, sit on important College committees, and are a big part of the decision making process within the SU. They are also trustees of the Students’ Union and sit on the Board of Trustees.

Student Trustee

A current student who sits on the Students’ Union’s Board of Trustees. They help guide the Students’ Union’s strategy, and ensure work is being done to deliver the organisation’s aims and objectives. Sabbatical Officers are automatically trustees of the Union while additional Student Trustees are recruited every year.

STV (Single Transferrable Vote)

The voting system used by the Students’ Union. This system gives voters the ability to rank their candidates in order of preference. You can learn more about STV in depth with this handy video.


A period of approximately 12 months where the elected individual is in office. Sabbatical Officers can be in office for a maximum period of 24 months.