On Monday 5th March 2018, the candidates running for Environmental and Social Justice (ESJ) Officer in this year’s Students’ Union Elections participated in an election hustings.
Hosted by Yolanda King, the current SU Postgraduate Officer, the hustings started with Yolanda asking the candidates what they would want to do if they were to be selected as the ESJ Officer.
Vivek Agarwal, an Environment and Civil Engineering PhD student, told Yolanda that he would use his knowledge and past experiences to make a difference around campus.
“I would want people to connect more”
If selected, “I would want people to connect more”, and one way in which he would do this is by making sure that events and experiences within University are accessible to all students.
Lara Isabell, a Philosophy student, shared several ideas of what she would like to do if selected as the ESJ Officer. She told Yolanda: “I believe we can make our campus a lot more ecologically friendly.”
A few ways in which she would like to do this is by reducing paper use, taking away flyers and having more hot water dispensers across campus. Another important point she mentions is that she would want to “listen to what students on campus have to say.” She goes on to explain that she wants students to feel involved and listened to.
Tilly Tribe, an Environmental Science student, said that if elected “there would be a lot of things that we can do to make the University more environmentally friendly.” For example, she wants to make sure that reusable coffee cups are used around the different cafes on campus.
“I have been more involved in the health issue side [of campaigns]”
She goes on to say that she would also like to work with other social justice officers such as the LGBT+ Officer.
Bonni Jee, a Natural Sciences student, told Yolanda that if he was to be elected, some of the things he would like to do is to reduce food waste, introduce more food bank donation points, improve recycling bins in halls, and give discounts to people who bring their own cups to all cafes on campus.
The next question asked by Yolanda had to do with what social justice-based campaigns each candidate have been involved in.
To answer this question Vivek started to talk about health campaigns that he has been part. “We gave free health tips to people” as well as free condoms. He finishes his answer by saying, “I have been more involved in the health issue side [of campaigns].”
Lara went on to talk about how being part of the Philosophy society committee has allowed her to learn how to bring students from different courses, backgrounds, and cultures together.
“every student feels like they have a place on campus where they feel comfortable”
She finishes of by saying that she would want to reach out to everyone and make sure that “every student feels like they have a place on campus where they feel comfortable.”
Talking about her own experiences, Tilly mentions that she has been part of the Living Wage campaign, where they were able to raise a lot of awareness. In regard to the campaign, she said: “I think that the University is trying to make change, but there is still a lot more that we can do.”
She would also like to raise awareness to similar campaigns so that they too can be shared across the entire student body.
Being the last candidate to answer this question, Bonni mentions that he is part of the fossil fuel divestment campaign and that he too was in support of the Living Wage campaign.
He goes on to say that he is also interested in academic and welfare issues, mentioning that he is a Peer Mentor on his course.
“My number one priority would be to organise various social events so that people from different communities can bond together properly”
The final question asked by Yolanda was what each candidates number one priority would be if they were to be elected.
Vivek answered by saying: “My number one priority would be to organise various social events so that people from different communities can bond together properly.”
He goes on to say that he would also like to look after the environment by promoting recycling and by better-educating people on how they can help improve the environment.
Lara mentions how she would first like to reduce the amount of waste around campus. She said she would do this by starting a campaign that encourages students to do “small changes that don’t affect your everyday life but would make a huge difference.”
“She wants students to think about their actions, whether that is how they treat others or how they treat the environment”
These small changes that she mentions involve using reusable cups and washing at 30 degrees instead of 40.
Tilly said that the main thing she would like to do is “increase awareness for environmental and social justice.” She wants students to think about their actions, whether that is how they treat others or how they treat the environment.
Bonni said that he would like to “foster a sense of sustainability.” He would also like students to feel like they are being listened to and that their suggestions are being heard.
Note: Agata Daszko did not attend the hustings as she is currently studying abroad. However, the same questions will be given to her which will then be posted online for you to read.
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