On Tuesday 8th March 2016, this year’s Activities candidates for the Students’ Union (SU) Elections participated in a Question Time to expand upon their manifesto points. The candidates running for Activities Officer in the SU Elections are Tom Burke, Emily Mills, Becky Player and Elina Ioannou.
The question time took place during the fourth Societies Council, giving the leaders of student societies the opportunity to question candidates on proposals that will affect their organisations in the coming year.
Candidates had one minute each to introduce themselves and had thirty seconds to respond to questions from the floor.
In a brief introduction, Tom Burke told society leaders: “I have personally found extracurricular activities very enriching and I think they are a vital part of the university experience, helping students to learn more about themselves”.
He mentioned that he would like to “tackle lad culture and make sure we have a more inclusive, accessible and friendly culture on campus”.
“Emily Mills wants to improve the Welcome Fair, alongside training and rewards, where she feels there is a massive need for review of content”
Elina Ioannou, currently President of the Belly Dance Society, highlighted that she wanted to make sure people do not miss out on joining societies, and also to “ensure big and small societies are included” in decisions.
Becky Player was next to speak. She told those present that she would like to improve engagement in halls, improve employability offerings for societies and focus on more funding.
Emily Mills highlighted that she “attends all Society Council meetings” and thus feels that she “knows what you want from the SU”. She stated that she wanted to improve the Welcome Fair, alongside training and rewards, where she feels that there is a “massive need for review of content”.
The first question from the floor was what the main project of each candidate would be and how they felt that this would benefit the SU.
Becky stated that her main project was “publicity support for societies”, with an emphasis on an activities calendar, shared on social media, which all societies would be able to submit at the beginning of each month to improve student engagement and awareness.
Emily suggested that her most important manifesto point was a Welfare and Society scheme, in which she would aim to “look individually at societies to see what they need”.
“Tom said that he wanted to support and encourage a variety of events, be that through reforming the funding system or providing services for which he feels the SU should be responsible”
Tom said that he wanted to “support and encourage a variety of events”, be that through “reforming the funding system” or “providing services” for which he feels the SU should be responsible, such as printing off forms for societies so that they do not have to print them themselves.
Elina emphasised the need for a timetable for societies so that students can see what is available and when, which she hopes would increase society memberships.
The candidates were then asked what steps they would take to improve the storage issues experienced by many societies.
Becky recognised that the Portland redevelopment would open up opportunities for the improvement of storage, and stated that she wanted to improve security of storage spaces.
“I was one of the people who highlighted the storage issue at the last meeting”, Elina told those present. “If I am elected, I will increase actual storage space in the locations where societies are, as sometimes they are on different campuses”.
Tom suggested that an open forum during the Portland redevelopment would be the “perfect opportunity for students to voice all of their concerns”.
Emily elaborated on previous proposals with the idea that there should be a key code system, as the current system of getting the key from a porter “is not efficient”.
“Becky and Emily recognised the opportunity this would provide for them to work alongside the Postgraduate Officer to find out what postgraduate students really want”
The candidates were then asked how they proposed to rectify the situation that many SU facilities are closed outside of term times despite the fact that postgraduate students often remain in Nottingham.
Tom and Elina agreed that a survey to find out what services postgraduate students would like to remain open would be helpful in enabling them to locate rooms for societies.
Becky and Emily recognised the opportunity this would provide for them to work alongside the Postgraduate Officer to find out what postgraduate students really want.
However, where Emily suggested that events held out of term time did not have to be limited to postgraduate students, Becky suggested that these events could also be postgraduate specific.
As all candidates stated that they would like to improve student engagement, they were then asked how they planned to realise this.
Tom suggested that intersociety and interfaith events would be a helpful way to encourage students to try societies that they perhaps would not have joined otherwise.
“Becky recognised that bringing all societies together in one location for Welcome Week would enable smaller societies to have more exposure”
Emily noted that a forum would be important in finding out what student societies would like, whilst Elina advocated better publicity for try-out sessions.
Becky recognised that bringing all societies together in one location for Welcome Week would enable smaller societies to have more exposure.
The SU candidates were also asked how they would help with handovers for committees if they were elected.
All candidate responses highlighted the importance of forging relationships with society members and listening to what they wanted. Society-specific, tailored handover documents were also proposed.
Each of the candidates recognised that they would like to improve society publicity and were therefore questioned on how they would realise this objective.
Becky suggested that an activities calendar would be useful and also proposed that students interested in graphic design could be involved in improving the quality of graphics.
Elina said that she wanted to improve the SU website and the presence of societies on social media. Tom agreed, adding that it is important to improve physical advertising for societies on campus too.
“The final question asked how each of the candidates would improve awareness of the silver and gold star ratings for societies”
The final question asked how each of the candidates would improve awareness of the silver and gold star ratings for societies.
Elina stated that she wanted to change the rating system and that she would consider how to better publicise it within those plans.
Tom proposed that each society profile should include its star rating, with an explanation of what the rating means and what the society had to do to obtain it.
Emily expanded on this point, stating that one requirement for ratings is a welfare event and that student awareness of this could be improved through her manifesto point on welfare and societies.
Becky proposed that the Activities Officer should speak to societies about what they want rewards for and ask students what they would like their societies to do in order to restructure the rating system. She also recognised the importance of celebrating societies when they achieve the rating.
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