Over the course of the last couple of weeks, Impact has been gathering information and speaking to all of the candidates for the Executive of your Students’ Union. Our reporters have probed, questioned, and endeavoured to find a way of differentiating between the candidates – to find out to just what is underneath the manifestos and what our potential leaders stand for.
Forget the Presidency – the real competition is for Activities Officer this year. With six candidates all vying for the prize, we have to ask just what exactly are they competing for? The Activities Officer holds oversight over societies and takes responsibility for raising the overall profile of societies, and must ensure societies obey the rules whether they are just starting up or have been around since time immemorial. Single-handedly responsible for Refreshers’ Fair, playing a large part in Freshers’ Fair and taking on the responsibility for the strategic development of a range of Student Run Services from TEC to Week One, the Activities Officer plays a part in the background of almost anything non-academic you do at this university.
Investigating all six candidates was Katie Cook…
Douggie McMeekin is a 3rd year Physics student and is hoping to gain your votes and become the next Activities Officer on the SU Exec after dedicating his university life to various societies and Athletic Union clubs. Douggie spoke to Impact about his policies and why he is so passionate to be elected as Activities Officer and why he believes he would be the perfect choice for the job.
When speaking to Douggie, his passion and enthusiasm for the range of societies and amount of interests and talents Nottingham has comes across clearly. For Douggie, becoming Activities Officer would make all the hard-work and effort he has put into the societies and sports clubs been involved in thus far worth it. He told me, “I love Nottingham and the best bit is the Societies and Student-Run Services. The amount of people involved and time, effort and talent invested is incredible. I feel a responsibility towards the role and it should be taken seriously.”
Douggie’s passion for this role is obvious, further emphasised by his campaign slogan being ‘Douggie Loves Activities’. But why does he think he’d be good for the role and why you should vote for him? “Ultimately, I’m passionate about the societies and as I’ve said, I feel a responsibility towards this side of things. I’ve sacrificed my degree for the sake of getting involved with everything and having this role of Activities Officer would make it all worth it.”
In addition to promising support for new and smaller societies, improving the website and better campus events and festivals, Douggie is keen to set up a better system of IMS (Intra-Mural Society) sport within the University. “There are so many society sports teams and loads of talented players. I want to set up an inter-society varsity and make it possible for teams to train and play. I also want to make sure there is a Sports Sec. for all the bigger societies and generally see more funding for society sports as they’re important. Essentially, I want to make it easy to do societies and sport together.”
Moving on from this, despite involvement in over “20 different societies” since being at this university, Douggie’s principal involvement has been in sports and the Athletic Union. Why hasn’t he run for AU? “I didn’t want to run for AU Officer as my experience and interest is more towards societies. I’ve got transferable skills and the roles constitutionally are the same. I can contribute more to the societies than I can to AU clubs.”
Campaign-wise, expect to see Douggie and his team of campaigners out in force around campus in their bright yellow t-shirts emblazoned with ‘Douggie Loves Activities.’ He has created a video which can be viewed on his Facebook group and website where he wants viewers and potential voters “to get to know him”. Rumour has it that he has a cape that he plans to wear whilst he zooms about on his Vespa scooter on campus. The big question is, are we going to love Douggie as much as he ‘loves’ Activities?
A clearly confident individual, 3rd year Physics student Ben Lucy is hoping you will have just as much confidence in him and his manifesto to become Activities Officer as he does in his policies and campaign. Impact spoke to Ben whilst he was in the middle of preparations for the start of campaigning in Ocean.
When asked why he wants to become the next Activities Officer he argued that “it’s just the best job. It would be so much fun, rewarding and a good stepping stone. Also I’m passionate about my policies. Having been a STARS trainer (STARS is a training programme which all society committee members must attend), I can see it from the other side.”
Questioning him further, I asked Ben why he would suit this role and he told me in no uncertain terms why he would be best for the job. “I think I’m the only candidate good enough. I’m the only President of a society out of all the candidates. I’ve been in a President’s shoes so I’ve got valuable experience. I think my policies are the best. I’ve been a President so I know what people and societies need. I’ve got the most relevant experience and I’m enthusiastic and dedicated.” Spoken with a cheeky grin and an air of contented confidence, Ben is clearly in it to win it – and he thinks he’s got the goods.
Ben is serious about doing this role justice and is serious about his policies, one of which is more collaboration between societies, with a proposed increase in events such as ‘Notts Got Talent’ and ‘I <3 Socs’. He believes this will promote inter-society interaction and wants to facilitate the communication between societies.
Drawing on his experience as President of Breakdance Society, Ben is keen on lobbying for a specific dance studio which he says all the other dance-related societies can benefit from as well as yoga groups as well as martial arts societies and AU clubs. In addition to this, he plans to increase the amount of storage space – a not uncommon pledge in this campaign, it seems – and make account information easier to access for society committees.
With clear links to the Nottingham University dancing community through Breakdance Soc, Ben is basing his support in an area of the electorate which is not necessarily represented elsewhere in the campaign. From this base, next week will reveal whether he can meet the needs of the electorate at large.
Joseph Tansley is a 3rd year Computer Science student and not one to be put off by narrowly losing out on the position of the Activities Officer last year. This time around, he is gearing up for an even bigger and better campaign that he hopes will see you elect him as your choice for improving and taking care of the society and activities side of the Exec.
With a formidable list of previous involvements spanning everything from a place on the STARS training team, to the SU Communications team and Committee places in both SciFi Society and Judo Club, Joseph is certainly an experienced candidate for the role of Activities Officer. But why is he running for the role again and what does he think sets him apart from the other candidates to make it happen this year?
The reason Joseph is running for the job of Activities Officer is plain and simple, “I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve been involved in and I want to give back to the societies and improve them and the system.”
Again, his answer to why he thinks he would be good for the role is simple and no nonsense. “I’ve got a variety of experience and I know lots of people.” Joseph thinks these are qualities which makes him best suited for the role in comparison to his rivals, and is hoping that standing again will lead voters into thinking that this shows the required dedication and determination to do the job well. Following his previous defeat, he points out that over the last year he has still been involved in many societies and has been able to build up more experience making him the best candidate for the job as well as learning from things that may have not gone so well last year.
Joseph also has quite an extensive list of policies upon which he is basing his campaign with one of the most interesting and unique being the improvement of recognition and accreditation for being involved in student societies. “Working towards accreditation and having some form of formal recognition provides a focus for students. When applying for jobs you can have official recognition to show you’ve been committed and involved, kind of like the Advantage Award.” As a Computing student, Joseph has a clear interest in the use of online media, stating an intention in his manifesto to “Encourage further development and use of the Student Union Website”. His previous experience as IT Officer for both the Societies Exec and the AU Exec will be useful in this regard.
With this wide range of experience in a variety of positions, as well as a stated desire to give something back to the SU community and a clear determination to try once again despite a defeat, Joseph is hoping that a large publicity drive during the voting week will see him elected.
Richard Lockington, a 3rd year Economics student and potential Activities Officer, clearly talks the talk with the ‘X Factor’ announcer’s voice imploring us to vote for him in his cracking election video. However, this does not mean there is no substance to his campaign.
With a 4 point policy focusing on ‘Communication, Facilities, Resources and Publicity’ along with a wealth of experience in Student-Run Services, societies and a Presidential role on Nightingale’s JCR, Richard and his campaign team have a lot of campaign material to draw upon. This aside, why is Richard running for Activities Officer?
Lockington has had 3 years of being involved from the outside and now sees this as his chance to implement ideas and solve issues that he has been able to see from his point of view and involvement in SRS, SU and society activity. Besides his work as President of the Nightingale JCR, he is IT Officer for MusSoc and Technical Director for TEC PA and Lighting, a job which has meant a significant amount of liaising with societies and the Students’ Union. This experience is, in his own words, why he thinks he would be good for the role, “I’ve had an ample amount of experience. From day one, I can be as effective as anyone else in the role as I believe I’m already aware of the issues and I already know about procedures”. If elected, Lockington believes he will be able to slip into his role with ease and start work on his policies straight away with the utmost efficiency.
So what are these policies exactly? As outlined in his manifesto, Lockington’s policies are based on lobbying for better facilities across all campuses that societies can use for meetings as well as rehearsals. Use of the current space and facilities around campus is already a significant part of his university life, due to his involvement with TEC. Inclusivity and a coherent communications policy are also important for Lockington, who wants to create a dedicated SU meeting area on Jubilee Campus. This will mean students on Jubilee won’t have to make the journey into University Park to be involved in societies and the Students Union.
Publicity and exposure are important policy points for Lockington as well. For example, he would seek to introduce a ‘Showcase Stage’ at Freshers’ Fayre. Such a stage would be designed for societies who may need a little more visual promotion to entice prospective members, and would be an opportunity for them to showcase exactly what their society is about. Ever been confused as to what Flair Soc is about? And what exactly does the Brazilian martial arts dance Capoeira involve? Lockington wishes to help show off the societies who may not be getting the publicity they deserve.
With such a wide variety of societies and different events and socials always on here at Nottingham, exposure for the lesser known societies and events and effective communication is key. Lockington proposes to install plasma screen TVs in each and every hall, campus, department and School building to advertise and inform what is going on. He tells me this will save time as adverts and PowerPoint presentations can be put into the system in a matter of minutes, it will be more eye-catching and save on paper and printing.
With an extensive CV and a pledge to go full on in the final week of campaigning, Lockington’s mantra is simple, but fundamental – “Basically, I want to make the amazing array of societies we have here better. No tricks, no gimmicks – I’ll be good at the job, I’ve got the experience and the vision.”
Lawrence Bolton has been a student at Nottingham for 3 years, he’s in his 2nd year of a Philosophy and Theology degree and he has certainly packed a lot into his time here. So much so that he wants to be your next Activities Officer to improve societies and make the Nottingham experience even more enjoyable.
Lawrence states that he has always been keen to get more involved in societies, arguing that “as early on as the Fresher’s Address I knew I was really interested in the SU and its role. I want to do more for societies and it has got to a point where I feel I can do the job.”
This belief that Lawrence has that he is right for the job stems from a wealth of experience, such as in his work as Black & Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer. It is particularly this experience, among involvement in numerous societies and Student-Run Services, that Lawrence feels sets him apart from the rest of the candidates in what he believes will be a tightly run race, “Being the BME Officer, I already know the ins and outs of a role on the SU Exec. I know the bureaucracy and workings. I’m the candidate that crosses all the borders.” There is no denying Lawrence has been involved in a huge variety of activities; he was a Karni Rep in 2008, and has taken part in Musicality and Student Improv shows. He went on to say that in comparison to the other candidates, “I think my experience is the most appropriate for the role.”
One of Lawrence’s most conspicuous pledges is to create an online system of booking rooms for societies and events – something normally done at the SU reception, which books and timetables rooms manually. The process would be simple, according to Lawrence: “I’m planning an online form which is emailed and sent to the SU reception, they sort it, then the booking conformation is emailed back. It will make booking rooms feasible and accessible for societies and committees.”
Lawrence is also vowing to support new societies and avoid them getting into debt by providing help and advice in organising fundraising and securing sponsorship, as this is something of a problem for the newer and smaller societies. Lawrence also wants to group societies according to the kind of activity undertaken by the society. “We could have ‘Performance Societies’ where they can interact and share ideas and cross-promote and bring a sense of community. Or ‘Course Societies’ for example.”
This creation of a sense of community and inclusivity is a recurrent theme in Lawrence’s rhetoric, and it is clear that he wants to work to promote wider involvement in societies, especially from minorities on campus: “There seems to be a lack of involvement from BME students, postgraduates and those with disabilities. I want to work with societies to help them include these students.”
As for the campaign, Lawrence knows that it is quite the task to come out with a win in such competitive conditions, with six candidates all vying for the job. He tells me that he reckons it’s going to be a hard campaign to win: “It’s going to be a really tight race – definitely the one to watch aside from the Presidency. I know I’m good for the role.”
Candice ‘Candy’ Golend
Candice Golend, who is using the nickname ‘Candy’ in her campaign material, is a 2nd year Management Studies student. Despite having what might be seen as a handicap by being a year behind her rivals, her raft of comprehensive policies puts her right in the running.
Ambitious and determined, Candy has found that the more she has been involved at university, the more she has enjoyed her time, and she wants to spread this through her work: “I really enjoy this sort of thing and what it entails. I like being involved and being part of a team. I’m very driven and creative and I think this will allow a new slant on the role.”
Candy is just as passionate about her policies, and thinks that her ‘A Society A Day’ idea is a unique and effective way of increasing society involvement. Essentially, Candy’s policy proposes to offer less known societies a time and a place where they can display themselves in an attempt to improve membership, and increase awareness. She argues: “When I looked at a list of societies, I was unsure as to what many of them do. The conceptions of some are wrong. ‘A Society a Day’ would increase student awareness and highlight diversity, hopefully resulting in increased membership. I’m really determined to get the university on board with this as it would have so many benefits.”
Candy’s manifesto also pays particular attention to society activity and involvement at Sutton Bonington. She pledges to create a ‘Start Your Own Society’ scheme to encourage the large, popular and often oversubscribed societies on University Park campus to offer the same activities over at Sutton Bonington on alternative days. This, she hopes, will increase participation and cut down travelling time between campuses for those who still want to be involved in life at University Park.
Candy is also pledging to improve the directory of resources available to societies, SRSs and JCRs. Work has already been done on this by current Activities Officer Claire Game but Candy is keen to continue this and make the directory the first port of call in organizing events such as balls, parties and formals. Candy believes this will improve events organizing for everyone and pointed out the benefits of having a comprehensive directory of details for Social Secs to use when arranging balls and formals. “If we use the same places and use the same contacts we can build up relationships and therefore hopefully get cheaper prices in the future”, she argued.
When I asked Candy why she thinks we should be voting for her over the other candidates she said “I’ve got a broad range of experience, and it’s always been the activities related side of things I’ve been interested in. I’ve got numerous leadership qualities and always been very involved in organisation – I organised two formals for Broadgate Park last year”. Candy has got some good experience including Social Sec for the Broadgate Park JCR, and was also a Week One Rep this year as well as being J-Soc Social Sec 2008-2009.
Some of the Impact team have been the recipients of love heart sweets from Candy’s campaigners, but rest assured we are still totally impartial. Only next Friday night will tell whether the voters are sweet on her policy ideas.