Over the past week and a half, the candidates for the SU Elections have been grilled on their policies. Ahead of the close of voting tomorrow at 5pm, Impact summarises the most interesting issues that arose at the Candidate Question Times.
PORTLAND QUESTION TIME
SU Presidential Candidate Amina Vora was not present at the Candidate Question Time, due to unforeseen family circumstances but her intent to continue running in the election was announced beforehand and commended by her fellow candidates.
Dexter Morgan conspicuously donned a pair of blue surgical gloves and placed a surgical cloth on the table in front of him before proceedings began. Morgan declared that he didn’t “need your vote” but rather “…would love to move to Miami…” Despite his declaration of indifference to actually winning, he followed this statement by saying students should consider him for President if they wanted “…to revolutionise the way the SU is run”.
When asked which part of his manifesto would be hardest to implement, Amos Teshuva responded that although he feels that the majority of his policies are realistic and manageable, his hope of securing a hopper bus stop on Triumph Road will be the trickiest to realise. Teshuva made it clear that he was not campaigning for the “fabled Lenton Hopper Bus”, only for the slightly more realistic goal of an added stop on the existing route. Dexter Morgan responded to the same question with the answer that his Fraternity and Sorority system would take a lot of work and be difficult to establish at the University.
AU OFFICER CANDIDATES:
For the AU Officer Candidates, many questions revolved around finances and the allocation of funding to sports clubs. The candidates generally agreed that an increase in tuition fees would result in students needing more encouragement to part with their cash when it came to sports and that facilities would need improving to provide better value for money.
However, disagreement arose over the question of membership fees. Jonny Bell argued that there is currently no leniency when it comes to pricing but that it would still be his “job to push for this”. Bell suggested that instead of lowering fees, termly fees could be introduced instead. Hew Williams categorically stated that lowering membership fees was unfeasible and that the sports centre would not budge on the issue. He emphasised the importance of taster sessions so students can try new sports before paying costly joining fees.
FINANCE AND SERVICES OFFICER CANDIDATES:
The stagnant issue of The Den brought about the fairly predictable answer from the two candidates running: that the venue needs to be improved and re-launched for students to make the most of it. No clear course of action was suggested by either candidate. Although Anil Palmer stated honestly that quite simply, more ideas needed to be thrown at it.
Interestingly, the candidates were asked whether Exec Officers should be paid more, to which Jonathon Stimmler replied that he didn’t really know how to answer that sort of question, but that the workload of an officer justified their salary. Palmer said that for him, the experience of working in such a role within the union was more important to him than the money, but the full time nature of the job warranted the full time salary.
EDUCATION OFFICER CANDIDATES:
When faced with the question of how to help students who struggle to get the right balance between their activities and course, the only Education Officer candidate Matt Styles expressed an intent to communicate with departments, comparing deadline dates with activities timetables to try to prevent them from coinciding.
When asked which two officers he’s most interested in working with, Styles replied the President as well as the Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer as he’s eager to try to engage with some of the harder to reach groups. He also expressed ideas of harnessing social media to communicate with people across campuses, training for postgraduate course reps and more information concerning course reps in the induction packs for Freshers so that they know who their reps are and what they do.
ACCOMMODATION AND COMMUNITY OFFICER CANDIDATES:
The first question posed by current Accommodation and Community Officer Julia Seal concerned how the candidates would deal with the criticisms that they will inevitably face due to the operational nature of the role causing a lack of face-time with students.
Both Green and Redfern disagreed that this necessarily had to be the case, with Green saying that she would make time to make appearances so that students can see who she is and what she does. Redfern felt that it was important that both sides of the job get done as it’s important to communicate with students to find out what the issues are.
On a slightly lighter note, the candidates were asked whether they were actually capable of spelling the name of the role, as their publicity indicated that this may not be the case. Thankfully, both were able to. Concerning the issue of the parking permits in Lenton, Redfern didn’t think it would be possible to get rid of them but expressed hope that conditions on them, such as dates of validity and price, can be renegotiated. Green suggested joining together with other universities that have faced similar problems to make prejudices against students a national issue, as a way of increasing pressure on the council.
Nick Redfern has now withdrawn from the Elections
DEMOCRACY AND COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER CANDIDATES:
In regards to the failure of the ‘Big Ask’ to achieve quoracy (10% of the student body were needed to vote for it to valid, but only 6% voted), Wilcox said that he found that most students didn’t know what effect it would have on them so he would have explained it in very simple terms covering what it will do now as well as future implications. Mitchell was part of the committee for the ‘Big Ask’, one of their responsibilities being publicity, and a survey indicated that students thought there was enough of it about. He thought that its lack of participation was down to the fact that “a lot of students don’t feel that they can make a difference and a lot of students didn’t understand the current structure”.
Mitchell thinks that he is very level-headed and can see both sides of an argument so he will be able to deal with disputes even if they conflict with his own views. On this matter, Wilcox said that he would remain impartial and logically consider the issues, mediating rather than getting involved. When asked whether he thought that all students should be allowed to attend council, Wilcox thought that it would be problematic if people were simply able to bring in their friends to vote for whatever policy they were trying to push through. Mitchell agreed on this point, saying that it is already the case that students are able to put any issue forward for consideration.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AND WELFARE OFFICER CANDIDATES:
When asked by current officer Rosie Tressler which policy on their manifesto they would push for, Abi Alcock stated that she would strive to push forward better networking between societies and the representative networks. Charlotte Bell prioritised giving training for the welfare roles, while Matthew Wilks would focus on increasing the use of the C-Card scheme, by which students can get free condoms.
Mike Dore said his policy of online student forums where students can get together and discuss problems will be the policy that he really pushes for. Lastly, Elliot Reed said that the formation of an Equal Opps Committee would take precedence if he was voted in.
ACTIVITIES OFFICER CANDIDATES:
Discussions quickly turned to the question of finance and grant money. Daniel Elia responded by saying, “I think its all about finding out exactly what Societies want to do before hand, finding out how many people are going to be in their society, and then allocating funds.” Michelle Mcloughlin took a similar approach, saying that she wanted to “re-evaluate the current financial system to ensure that societies all have the funds to complete the aims and objectives stated on their constitution”.
There were, however, areas where candidates clearly disagreed. When asked how they intended to publicise societies, Sam Dodgin stated that “posters are always the way to start”. Mcloughlin disagreed saying “there is over-saturation, and people don’t look at posters anymore”. Elia steered clear of the contentious poster issue, instead expressing his wish to start a newsletter to publicise societies and help them attract new members.
The candidates expressed themselves well during the first Q&A session, but were far from word perfect in the second session. When asked by a NUTS reporter who the Sutton Bonington Societies Officer was, no candidate knew the answer. Dodgin admitted that he had not looked it up, despite being asked the same question the previous day, as he “had got in rather late” the night before. Mcloughlin could only remember the initials of the officer, and Elia was not present.
SUTTON BONINGTON QUESTION TIME
Question Time provided the audience with a clear indicator of those who had done their research on life at Sutton Bonington and those who hadn’t. The most important issue addressed to nearly every position was one of how to integrate SB students with those on Jubilee Campus and University Park. Michelle Mcloughlin (prospective Activities Officer) argued that the SU should respect and maintain the autonomy and unique character of SB, while helping students there feel a part of the Nottingham environment, as opposed to placing an emphasis on integration alone.
Accommodation and Community Officer candidate Sian Green acknowledged the problems faced by SB students, in regard to slow and unreliable hopper buses as well as strict parking restrictions, making transport difficult and disconnection from the main campus worse for SB students. Sian and Michelle were by no means the only two to have come across as having made an effort to connect with the SB student body, which is a good sign for SB students. Amos Teshuva (running for SU President) noted that the current SU exec has failed when it comes to integrating SB.
It was not an evening entirely lacking in the odd light-hearted moment, with Dexter Morgan provoding an unusual style of campaigning by turning up splattered in fake blood and riling against the ‘cuts’.
Mature Student Officer prospect Phil Bagg barked like a dog when requested, while Accommodations and Community candidates Green and Nick Redfern (who has since withdrawn) debated the virtues of a proposed pirate ship on SB. All made for lively discussion, especially in a debate disappointingly absent of heated argument between candidates.
Reports by Richard Collett, Ellis Schindler, Daniel Fine, Antonia Paget and Emily Tripp.
For more information on the candidates and their policies check out Impact’s handy guide: http://www.impactnottingham.com/2012/03/meet-the-executive-officer-candidates/