On March 15th, candidates for Postgraduate Officer in this year’s Students’ Union elections (Yolanda King, Paige Roden, Manuel Besares, and Anthony Alduino) took part in a husting to answer a number of questions regarding their manifestos. Matt Bramley was chairing the session as the current officer.
The candidates started off by giving a one minute speech about why voters should elect them.
Yolanda believes that her experience as President of Table Tennis Society and having campaigned three times already gives her the necessary skills for a role in the SU.
Manuel, as an international student, knows how difficult it can be for international graduate students at the University and states that he is committed to working for the entirety of the student body.
Anthony comes from a non-profit background, having previously worked in health care for immigrants in the United States.
He wants to work for every graduate student that may have “fallen through the cracks”, such as people that have come from “far-away places” and those who do not have enough support.
Paige is a distance learner and has acted as Postgraduate Lead Mentor in Welcome Week. She has also helped organise a number of events for postgraduate students and believes that these experiences have given her lots of ideas.
“He wants to work for every graduate student that may have “fallen through the cracks””
The first question was about the plans candidates have to make distance learning postgraduate students feel more a part of the postgraduate community at Nottingham.
Paige wishes to increase awareness of the available Student-Run Services, for example Nightline.
She placed particular emphasis on Nightline as she recognises that the service can be useful for distance learners, who may sometimes be “lonely”.
Anthony acknowledges that we have “the outreach through the internet to work with people who are not here”.
Manuel proposes graduate networks to improve networking and support.
Yolanda suggests using communication channels to work with distant learners to feel in contact with the University, as well as improving pastoral support.
“Paige wishes to increase awareness of Student-Run Services”
The following question asked: “How would you go about educating people who don’t know much about British culture and their rights, to make sure they integrate well?”
Yolanda believes the answer to this is working with Part-Time Officers who have the best knowledge about specific areas of the community.
Manuel says his priority is to address international students and states that he is well suited for this given his expertise in Human Rights.
He wants to get more international students “involved in activities with the purpose of inclusion”.
Anthony believes the idea of virtual Welcome Week packs are a good way to address the issue, perhaps by having them in languages other than English.
Paige believes that making more information available at Welcome Week is key, such as adding leaflets on welcome packs about “British culture and what to expect”.
When asked about a specific policy in their manifesto that the candidates think will have a big impact, Paige states that her most important manifesto point is increasing the awareness of welfare services available to all students.
Anthony would like to work with local authorities to establish standard protocols to have the best results for students.
Manuel says he wants to increase inclusivity.
Finally, Yolanda thinks her virtual Welcome Week pack encapsulates all her of other manifesto points.
“Anthony believes the idea of virtual Welcome Week packs are a good way to address the issue [of inclusivity]”
Next, they were asked about how to help research students.
Yolanda started by saying she wants to work more closely with research students to understand “areas we could improve other than what is already in my manifesto”, a thought that Manuel echoes when saying he wants to understand specific needs of the research students which may be different, such as funding opportunities.
Manuel wants to work with time management and advisory services to offer support to research students whose work time “ebbs and flows”, as he explains.
Again, Paige believes asking for feedback is very important. Recently, it has come to her attention there may be many disparities between schools for those who teach and study, and she wants to investigate this further.
Finally, the candidates were asked about the lack of connection between undergraduate and postgraduate students that leaves undergraduates out of potentially exploring postgraduate opportunities, and what is the way that this could be tackled.
Paige states that the LINK Conference is crucial for this. Within the schools, she also believes connecting undergraduates and postgraduates is paramount.
Anthony states that it is essential to work with societies to identify what undergraduates may be passionate about and educate them about the postgraduate opportunities available.
He explains that “working at the ground level can help catch more people”.
“[Yolanda] wants to work closer with research students to understand “areas we could improve in other than what is already in my manifesto””
Manuel wants to create a mentoring programme to solve this disparity.
Yolanda agreed that allowing postgraduates to share their research with undergraduates will be beneficial to both sides.
All candidates also state that they are looking forward to the multi-dimensional nature the Postgraduate Officer who balances all other officer roles at once for postgrad students.
When asked to define in one word why people should vote for them, the candidates answered:
Paige – Achievable
Anthony – Grassroots
Manuel – Inclusion
Yolanda – Tenacity
Images: Rhys Thomas for Impact Images