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Michael-Akolade Ayodeji reflects on his election as President of the Oxford Union for Trinity 2022

On 27th November, Michael-Akolade Ayodeji was elected as President of the Oxford Union for Trinity Term 2022. He won with 486 first preferences and 52% of the overall vote. In conversation with The Blue this week, he has reflected on his success and spoken about plans to boost inclusion within the Union.

“I feel privileged and incredibly honoured to have been elected as President,” says Ayodeji. He is the only member of the INSPIRE slate to win a major position for Trinity, with the offices of Librarian, Treasurer and Secretary going to the CONNECT slate. However, Ayodeji is excited to work with all staff and members of the committee to enact the pledges he’s been mandated to deliver.

Ayodeji’s vision is to make the Union more welcoming: “I want everyone to feel like it’s an environment they can truly be a part of – irrespective of their background,” he tells The Blue. Historically, the Oxford Union has had an elitist reputation, and some students still see it as inaccessible due to its high upfront membership fee. Ayodeji hopes tackle external misconceptions and proposed to implement instalments for Membership payment in his election manifesto. This is part of his overall aim to “demystify the Union” by opening the society’s extensive facilities to a wider range of students.

Ayodeji has also spoken about his care-leaver background, which makes him feel “even more lucky and humbled” to have won this tightly fought election. Care leavers currently make up just 0.1% of all undergraduates in the UK, so Ayodeji’s accomplishments at the Union and study at University College Oxford are particularly rare. He also mentions that around 50% of care leavers have been in contact with the criminal justice system and 25% are part of the UK’s homeless population – it was debating workshops at the Oxford Union, he says, which helped to build his confidence during the transition to university from this underrepresented background. 

Ayodeji thanked the membership of the Oxford Union for placing their faith in him on polling day. “I can’t wait for everything we will achieve together,” he says. 

The incoming President for Hilary Term 2022 is Molly Mantle of St Hugh’s College, who will be responsible for Union events after the Christmas vacation. Michael-Akolade Ayodeji and the other newly elected officers, meanwhile, will continue their plans to expand inclusivity at the Union in summer.