The first SU elections debate, covering four roles: Development Officer, Welfare Officer, Education Officer and President, was a huge success despite minor initial technical problems. On stage, candidates seemed at ease and prepared for each question, with rebuttal and candidate-candidate questioning increasing as the debate went on, spiking, unsurprisingly at the SU President debate.
The debate opened with a question on each candidate’s approach to sustainability. Jordan Weir, who ran for this position last year, stressed the importance of ‘encouraging reusability and recycling’, claiming that now is the time for the investment into such services. Ciara O’Sullivan said her proposed swap shop would be a huge hit and would give the students body a choice as to what charity the money from it would go to. Sophie McGinley set out her aim for encouraging a ‘move away from fast fashion’ and noted the paper waste of the Box Office, whereas Tara Kimberlee made the case for modernising our textbook system in our libraries, claiming it is currently inefficient.
On the question of finance, Sophie McGinley noted that our SU is currently ‘running on a deficit’ and claimed the only way to resolve it is investment. Jordan Weir expressed his commitment to a university staff pay rise, with Tara Kimberlee adding that current staff are paid less than the real living wage. Each candidate expressed their concerns with plastic reduction. Ciara O’Sullivan wants to teach first years how to recycle properly if elected, Sophie McGinley and Jordan Weir proposed an active lobbying of the University on its efficiency and Tara Kimberley expressed her aim of a sustainability fund.
Majority of this debate focused on the importance of mental health services. Candidate Megan Dora Roberts opened the debate explaining her policy to train First Aid workers in the ability to spot mental health and to make services well known to students. Chris Burrey proposed a reformed budget for mental health, with more counsellors, especially specialist counsellors. Holly Ellis took this time to express the importance of a 24 hour helpline for students, and fellow candidate Elmo Huang detailed their commitment to a multilingual mental health service to tackle language barriers.
On the topic of ensuring diversity, Elmo Huang proposed a training for Inclusion Officers on the cultural differences in our University and Holly Ellis stressed the importance of making sure societies are being as diverse and inclusive as they can. Adding to this, Megan Dora Roberts noted the ‘brilliant campaign’ on microaggressions last term, and wants to expand that initiative to all types of groups, whereas Chris Burrey said that ensuring diversity ‘comes with the role itself.’
Two candidates took the stage for this debate, Officer hopefuls Micha Farrel and Sam Calderbank. When questioned on the lack of policy surrounding tuition fees, Micha Farrel stated that making commitments on such a large issue would, for the one year position, be unreasonable and instead wishes to aim on making policy to aid students during strike action. Sam Calderbank answered similarly, saying that if elected she would focus on the things she ‘could tackle straight away.’
On the topic of education issues of today, Sam Calderbank focused on the importance of student feedback, and a specific aim to make this stronger on a departmental level. Micha Farrel noted her commitment to ‘Equality and Support’ for students and an update on how we give module feedback. When questioned on the role they would have with distressed students, Sam Calderbank made it clear that she wanted to be seen as a friendly face to anyone who feels uncertain and a prioritisation of helping distressed students. Micha Farrel however replied that she didn’t think she would prioritise distressed students, as she feels all students’ situations are different.
Definitely the most heated debate of the night, candidates answered questions from the speaker as well posing questions to each other. The debate began with a focus on sustainability. Josh Glicklich aims to lobby the current ‘hypocrisy’ of the University and its green scheme. Fleur Delugar claimed that the biggest problem we have is food waste and her policy of installing microwaves and water taps in the University would tackle that. Beth Eyre noted her commitment to a ‘leaflet-less’ campaign and stated her commitment to a greener University. Fellow candidate Dom Fairbrass followed, arguing that flyers as relative to the crisis are ‘negligible’ and that flyers are an important part of our democratic process. When asked why they were the best people to be the figurehead of our SU, Josh Glicklich noted his experience in student politics and Fleur Deluga stated her main skill ‘is that I’m approachable.’
Finally, on what they see as their main policy, Josh Glicklich stated that his manifesto doesn’t cost a penny and that specifically he wants to tackle the hypocrisy in the University. Dom Fairbrass detailed his policy of implementing a Officer Question Time system, to ensure accountability and Beth Eyre prioritised her aim for a meet and greet service for domestic students. And Fleur Deluga set out her aim to make Ecosia the default search engine on University computers.
Image source: Claire Henderson