On Tuesday 7th March 2016, the candidate running for Activities in this year’s Students’ Union Elections participated in a Question Time.
At the start of the hustings, people were informed that Joe McGeehan had dropped out of the race to become the 2017-18 Activities Officer, leaving Martin Nguyen to be the only candidate running.
Martin was given a minute to introduce himself in which he mentioned his experience as a Florence Boot Activities Rep, being a Lead Welcome Mentor and a Night Time Co-ordinator of the Welcome Committee.
He emphasised his passion for the student experience, which was the reasoning for why he decided to run this year.
In closing, he mentioned areas in which the Students’ Union could improve, stating that: “Kickstart is really one of the biggest things for me that the Student Union lacks in. Other areas include publicity, and making sure that everybody knows what is going on, depending on what their interests are”.
Following the introduction came questions from the floor. The first question posed queried what experience the candidate has had that will help the everyday running of societies in his role as Activities Officer.
Martin acknowledged that he has not been in a society committee but reasserted his role in the Welcome Committee, whilst stating that “student engagement, planning events and making sure that there is student satisfaction” are key in running a society.
The candidate was then questioned on how he would increase the profile of societies during International Welcome Week.
The candidate mentioned the importance of publicity of Welcome Week, mentioning the necessity of “updating the Students’ Union website by making sure that if there are events, everyone will know about them”.
In terms of the integration of international students, he referred to one of his manifesto points in which he planned to implement ‘how-to’ guides in various languages to help international students feel more settled and to engage them in the SU.
He did admit, however, that international integration would not be a quick fix; “it will be an issue because there is no clear step forward on how we can solve it.”
The next question was in regard to what would be done about STARs – the tiered reward system the SU implements to all societies.
Martin highlighted that he had spoken to a lot of presidents and members of societies about the STAR system, stating that the major problem is that people “are jumping through hoops to get to gold or silver” but “feel like there is no incentive”, something that he wants to improve.
He stressed that he would make sure that “all of the STAR points or goals that you are achieving are realistic, even for small societies”.
Another question from the floor was what would be done regarding difficulties surrounding the booking of rooms and venues.
The candidate said that this was a big problem in the Students’ Union but admitted that he didn’t have a direct answer to this “because certain groups have priority over rooms”. Martin did, however, say that he would make sure “that the website and the channels that we use to book rooms are fluent and flawless”.
He had also promised that he will try to make rooms accessible regardless to “whether you are a society or a sport[s club]”.
The final question from the floor was what would be done in regard to societies that are not as active or don’t get as many STAR points.
Martin was very clear in his point that he wanted to treat all societies equally, “one of my main things is to make sure that all societies are appreciated and supported regardless of what size”.
Images: Emily Harbottle