Yasmin Talsi is a School of Biosciences Education Rep, a Learning Community Forum Member, an SU councillor and a Learning and Teaching Committee member. She is also on the BME Elections Committee. She wants to run for the position of BME officer “because [she] think[s] it’s really important that minority students are represented at our Union and there are some issues that need to be addressed.”
Yasmin wants to look into the reasons why UoN students from non-white backgrounds with the same qualifications as students from white backgrounds achieve lower outcomes in their degrees. “At the minute the University and the Union don’t quite understand the reason for this. It’s not a language barrier, so I think it would be interesting to find out why this is happening and to try and do something about it,” she explained. She said that she would do this by running a union-wide campaign in conjunction with the Education Officer.
Yasmin also mentions in her manifesto that she wants to create safe spaces for religious groups. She has some specific cases in mind, “at the minute, Jewish students at our university don’t have anywhere to go for prayers; they tend to go to their Rabbi’s house. I think that we should be doing more for these students. They should have a place to go on campus. It’s a basic human right.”
Yasmin’s other policies include lobbying the SU shop and hall catering to serve more Halal and Kosher food, expanding the BME networks’ directory of shops and religious establishments in Nottingham and setting up extracurricular activities which cater to BME needs, such as women-only swimming.
DISABLED STUDENTS’ OFFICER
Naomi Gilchrist is already involved in the Disabled Students’ Network, and says that she has experience and understanding of a range of health issues that may affect students, including mobility, mental health, hidden or long term health conditions, specific learning difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
She pledges to raise awareness of disability issues among students, to make students aware of the Disabled Students’ Network and who they support and to ensure that all students have fair and equal access to services and support.
She also wants to improve accessibility for students on all campuses and ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and support to fully integrate into university life.
Naomi says that she wants students to “know that being at university with a disability, long-term or mental health issue or learning difficulty is totally possible!”
Calum Battersby and Ella Funge
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ OFFICER
Hadiza Marwa is a course rep for Neuroscience with Biochemistry and the exhibition sub-head for Discover Islam Week.
Hadiza wants to give students more opportunities to integrate and experience different cultures by hosting international events during Freshers’ Week and communicating with other societies so that more inter-cultural events can take place throughout the year. She wants to provide students with the opportunity to enrich their university experience and become more culturally diverse by liaising with different departments and the Nottingham Advantage Award.
She also wants to create a system where upcoming students can hear from current students during the summer to prepare them for their first year in advance, as well as make storage more accessible for international students who have to leave during the holidays.
Alexandra Pinzariu is the head of Public Relations for the Romanian Society, a member of Rotaract Nottingham and coordinator of the UK branch of the International League of Romanian Students Abroad. She also has experience with volunteering and charity work.
In her manifesto, she pledges to ensure that all students are represented and have an equal say. She wants to facilitate an open dialogue between students and the university and create more jobs for foreign students on campus.
“We need to work on the level of equality for students which is low due to the passport they hold,” she says, “A vote for me guarantees a difference, for the better, a strong voice, because your voice is my voice!”
As Vice President of the Pakistani Society, Sponsorship and Marketing Manager for the Nottingham Economic Review and a UCAS Student Ambassador, Usman believes he has the relevant experience to fulfil the role of International Officer.
“There is a severe underrepresentation of international students,” he told Impact, “There are over 10,000 international students according to the international office. We contribute seventy five million pounds to the University turnover… so a fifth of the turnover is generated by international students. There are 140 nationalities, yet you hardly see international students in the SU, and you hardly see policies for international students.”
“The current international officer has done a really good job establishing the groundwork, but I think that really needs to be pushed forward in the coming year because if it’s just left there, we’re not going to see any change.”
Usman wants more SU representation on Sutton Bonington and Jubilee campuses, an association to support international students similar to the BME network and a buddy scheme for upcoming international students, so that they can be introduced to other students from their course and country prior to their arrival at Nottingham.
He would also like to implement a shuttle bus from Birmingham to Nottingham during International Welcome Week and set up a programme to help with the high cost of storage over the summer holidays. Usman stressed that he wants to train JCR committees to better be able to deal with the needs of international students, and that he wants the University to accommodate the problems that students may be having back home.
Finally, he intends to expand the range of international events that are available, celebrating religious festivals such as Eid and Diwali and providing non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic events.
Jasmine Chow has studied in Hong Kong, the US and the UK. Her experience relevant to the role includes being on the core committee of the international club at her high school in the US.
“I’m aware of the issues that international students have,” she says, “so I want to try help them to get involved with activities more [and] make them have a better experience.”
The main issue that Jasmine wants to tackle “is probably the difference in cultures, [like] the language barriers… because I know many international students [whose] English is not very good and it makes it really difficult for them to get along with the locals [non-international students]”.
As for integrating UoN’s 8,000 international students into the main student body, Jasmine says, “I have to get international students to know each other first. And after that I will try to promote their cultures and their beliefs so that other, local students can get to know about them.”
Her manifesto proposes celebrating the cultural festivals of different ethnic groups on campus.
Another of Jasmine’s main focuses is to “increase food diversity in catered halls”. She has spoken to many international students “the food [in catered halls] is really not so good”, adding, “but I think it’s really important for them to enjoy their experience in the catered halls”, and “we cannot just ignore this small issue, because they have to get the food every day”.
Jake O’Farrell describes himself as being passionate about LGBT rights, which he believes makes him an ideal candidate for the role. Highlighting “engagement of the LGBT community” as a cornerstone of his policy, he hopes to represent the views of all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, regardless whether they are involved with the LGBT society or not.
He cites homophobia on campus as a real concern, and condemns the “accidental ignorance” of some university staff when addressing LGBT issues. He seeks to counteract these problems by lobbying the university to provide training for staff to be able to handle students equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender status.
Jake boasts experience relevant to the role, including being the Social Secretary for the LGBT Society for two years running, representing Nottingham as the NUS LGBT Conference Delegate in 2012 and he has also been an Attendee of the SU Council.
An equal marriage campaign and helping to publicise World AIDS Day are what Jake believes to be some of his most impressive achievements.
Jake’s manifesto speaks of plans to create the chance for LGBT students to live together when applying for accommodation and also to run a weekend trip to the National Student Pride event in Brighton.
Jack Salter say he is “excited and nervous” about running for the position of LGBT Officer. He has had an active involvement in the network for some time at Nottingham University, participating in campaigning for Equal Marriage for example.
Since moving away for a year to study abroad, Jack has started up a new LGBT network in his halls at Hong Kong University, and has taken part in the Hong Kong Pride march. “Given that these halls that I’m staying in are brand new, it seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Jack.
Jack has also developed leadership skills outside the network, holding positions such as President of the Nottingham Law Exchange group and director of Law Revue.
If elected, Jack wants to fight homophobia and LGBT ignorance by providing education events and campaigns regarding health and wellbeing, and also “minority within minority” issues such as bi-phobia and trans*-phobia.
Jack also stated that the LGBT network is sometimes seen as not “necessarily as open to everyone as it should be; appearance-wise at least” and said “that’s something I want to try and address.”
He also added that “if [he] were to win the election, [he] want[ed] to include people from all backgrounds. British students, international students, students of all different ethnic backgrounds and colors.”
Jack says he has a “wonderful campaign team” campaigning for his election in England and France while he remains in Hong Kong. He described them as his “eyes and ears on the ground.”
MATURE STUDENTS’ OFFICER
Running for the second time for the position of Mature Officer, Phil Bragg is a second year undergraduate studying Health Care Sciences. After gaining the experience of being a general secretary for the Mature Students’ Association this year, he wants to get more involved with University life, and gain further experience. He says his roles as course representative and general secretary have allowed him to make a lot of good connections among the committee and mature student population.
Similarly to last year, his manifesto pledges to “make sure that all Mature students’ needs are addressed”, targeting key areas such as parking and childcare. He puts a large emphasis on the social aspect of mature students’ lives, aiming to organise regular socials and events, starting “on day one of fresher’s week”.
He admires the work of current Mature Student’s Officer, stating that he would like the opportunity to “take the reigns” straight from her. He mostly plans to continue the good work already in place, as well as focussing on the possibility free parking on Sutton Bonington campus for mature students that may have families at home.
Phil hopes to continue to provide successful services and social events for mature students developed by the existing officer.
Krishna Shah & Nina Humphries
Krishna and Nina are running as a joint candidate. Explaining this decision, Krishna said, “We’ve got parts of our manifesto that we’re both interested in so we’re going to share it out like that, and I think we work well together as a team as well.”
Nina is currently the Women’s Network Publicity Officer, a “Women’s Words” show presenter on URN and the Sociology Society Treasurer. Krishna is a general committee member for the Women’s Network. Both have been involved with various feminist summer schools and workshops.
They are particularly interested in targeting events towards student carers. They also want to hold workshops on gender inequalities and carrying on the work of the ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign against sexual harassment started by current Women’s Officer Rose Bonner.
They wish to maintain links with Nottingham Rape Crisis centre and the Women’s Centre, but they also want to establish links with a global charity. In addition, they would like to work more closely with other SU campaigns, such as BME and LGBT. Their other pledges include campaigning against cuts that affect women and holding letter-writing workshops so that students have a chance to write to their MPs about these issues.
Their only rival for the position of Women’s officer, Amy Green, has stood down, stating that running against joint candidates Nina and Krishna was a contributing factor in her decision. “We understand completely where she’s coming from and we do sympathise,” said Krishna, “It was our decision [to run as joint candidates] and it was such a huge role that I think if either of us had run separately it wouldn’t have worked out as well as if we’d run together.”
Krishna summed up their campaign as “educating people on inequalities. We want to create as many workshops and events as we possibly can to inspire women.”
Laura Theobold is running for a second term as Postgraduate Officer. She said that she’s running again because “for the past year I’ve been laying the groundwork for change to happen”.
One of her main concentrations in her manifesto is on funding postgraduate schemes. She notes that “a lot of reports have been coming out about how postgraduate study has become the path to social mobility, and that the Masters is the new Bachelors”. However, she foresees a raise in fees over the next few years, so “this is a fight we have to prepare for.”
In her role as Postgraduate Officer she has built up what she feels is a “good relationship with the grad school”. She wants to ensure, through a system of lobbying, that the University “understands the importance of postgraduate study”.
One of the biggest obstacles she’s faced in implementing her pledges last year is the isolated nature of postgraduate students. She said, “It feels like I’m doing a lot on my own… I want a more unified postgraduate community”.
In terms of integrating the postgraduate students with the wider student body, Laura said that she has been doing a lot of work with surveys in order to get a clearer picture of “what [postgraduate students] want from the Union”. In her research she wants to expand a focus on the post-graduate experience “and do more outside of the classroom”.