On Monday 5th March 2018, the candidates running for Activities Officer in this year’s Students’ Union Elections participated in an election hustings.
Both candidates, Mike Flanagan and Katie Clubb, were given two minutes to introduce themselves before they were asked questions from both the audience in attendance and from questions posted online.
The first online question asked was what each candidate thought the role of the Activities Officer is.
Katie started off by saying that “the role of an Activities Officer is a broad one.” She goes on to say that the officer needs commitment, they need to sit in and chair many different meetings, helping to affiliate new societies, trying to make the lives of students easier, giving advice to societies and training them for events.
“[Activities Officer is] responsible for the way that every student spends their time outside lectures”
Mike then gives his own version of what he believes an Activity Officer’s role should be like. He mentions that an Activity Officer is “responsible for the way that every student spends their time outside lectures.”
He goes on to say that “catering the needs of every individual is what an Activity Officer needs to do.”
The next question, which came from the audience, was in regard to what both candidates would like to do to get Postgraduate students more involved and engaged.
Mike mentioned how they tried to get Postgraduate students more involved during Welcome Week. He believes that big changes were made this year in regard to this issue but is also aware that more changes need to happen. He goes on to mention that he is aware that Postgraduate level entry medicine students get completely left behind because they start University 5 weeks before everyone else. Therefore, he wants to create a better events programme so that their experience is as good as any other students in Nottingham.
“when there is a reputational risk, I do think that [reputation] has to come first”
Katie told the audience that the events held for Postgraduate students need to be better promoted and that they need to do a better job in getting these students more involved. She believes that she will be able to do this by having smaller, more accessible and approachable welcome fairs throughout campuses in order to make it easier for everyone to get involved.
The next question was one of great interest. Asked online, someone wanted to know how they would balance the reputational risk of the SU if it goes completely against what the students want.
Katie said that “when there is a reputational risk, I do think that [reputation] has to come first.” She goes on to say that listening to the students is important, but there are boundaries for a reason that would mostly have to do with welfare which is an important factor to keep in mind. She finishes by saying that “proper planning and communication with students is the way forward.”
“He is aware that the reward scheme is catered to larger societies”
Mike agrees with Katie that “representation comes first.” He continues to say that he wants to enable students to practice what they want to do, but at the same time training them to do everything in a proper and effective way so that the Students’ Union reputation is not put at risk.
When asked what they plan to do to help smaller societies, Mike explained that this would be his main focus. He is aware that the reward scheme is catered to larger societies and that the small ones tend to get left on the side. What he hopes to do is to improve the society section on the SU website by creating better descriptions and communication.
Katie, on the other hand, wants to showcase videos for those smaller societies. These videos would be in collaboration with different media societies and would explain what that specific society is, in order to promote it.
“[he] points out that students are allowed to ask what the Students’ Union are doing with their money”
Talking about how they would help and support JCR committees, Mike said that he would like to start the welfare activity campaign. He continues to say that it would involve meeting with society groups and JCR committees to ensure that the welfare needs of every student are met.
When it was Katie’s turn to answer she said that she would like to have a JCR council. She believes that the JCR is overlooked and would thus like to bring them all together for them to share their expertise and knowledge on putting events together.
“[I] would be committed to working on [society debt issues] and creating a spotlight for that issue.”
The last question for the night had to do with what each candidate would do to help societies that are currently in debt due to committees from previous years.
Katie said that there should be an investigation first before clearing any debt. She finished it off by saying that she “would be committed to working on that and creating a spotlight for that issue.”
When answering this question Mike talks about transparency. He wants to show how funds and resources are used within the SU and points out that students are allowed to ask what the Students’ Union are doing with their money.
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