Hustings: Sports Officer

On Tuesday 6th of March, all the candidates running for the position of Sports Officer participated in a hustings chaired by Dimitrios Potsos.

This year there are five candidates running for the position of Sports Officer: Emma Hodges, Cassie Ulrich, Stuart Wharff, Lois O’Toole and Peter Boyes.

Each candidate was given a minute to introduce themselves before being asked how they think the welfare and sport campaign should be continued into the next year.

Lois said that she hoped to keep building on the foundations of the campaign, making sure future students have the support they need and “everyone knows it’s okay not to be okay.”

“It’s doing fantastic, growing every year,” said Peter of the campaign. He wants to augment it by providing training to entire committees, because welfare responsibility should not fall on a single one person in a society.

Emma said that welfare and sports “have been very important to UoN sport”, and as part of her manifesto, she would like to expand the welfare aspect into nights out as well in order to keep sport members safe.

Cassie said that “Adam and the University have done a great job” in regard to the sports welfare. She does however wasn’t to increase the outreach of sport welfare officers to IMS clubs as well.

Stuart went on to say that there is a great foundation setup. However, he thinks that there should not just be one single welfare officer within a sports club, as there can be cases where your welfare officer is not your number one choice.

“Emma talked about her experience as the Vice-President of the Netball club”

When asked how they would use their sporting experiences into their role as Sports Officer, Lois explains that she has taken part in many activities across the University, and plans to ensure everyone has as good an experience as she had.

Peter said he had 12 hours of training a week, which made him excellent at time management. He has also learnt how to fight for his club, so he can fight for you as a student too.

Emma talked about her experience as the Vice-President of the Netball club, and how that helped her to have a better understanding of all the different levels in which people can engage and participate in sports. She went on to say that not everyone will excel but that everyone can enjoy the sport.

Cassie talked about her experience in the US, where she said that it is all about performance. She later on talked about her commitment with the IMS football club by nearly attending all of the Sunday games and feeling like she has done a good job in connecting with those girls and keeping their engagement up as well.

Stuart, the President of the Men’s Basketball team, said “my club has become my life this year.” He was able to show this commitment by explaining how he has helped the third team after seeing them struggling, being present at every training session, helping coach IMS, as well as other roles.

“Behavior comes down to awareness,” said Peter.”

The next question each candidate was asked had to do with student behaviour in sports.

Lois highlighted the responsibility of separate societies. She plans to make sure every committee member is informed what is and isn’t acceptable. In addition, she talked about the importance of knowing how to drink responsibly.

“Behavior comes down to awareness,” said Peter. He hopes that behavior can be improved by raising awareness of how much the University’s sports contribute to the city. He suggested that if students were aware of their influence, they would behave better.

Emma said that “it is all primarily about prevention.” She then talked about educating teams about what is and what is not okay. She continued to say that this can also be a case of dealing with certain students and not an entire team. She finished by saying that this is something that she would be prepared to do as the Sports Officer.

Cassie said that everything comes down to professionalism and that this should be addressed to everyone on the team and committees, so that they are aware of what is acceptable and what is not.

Stuart mentioned that the key in dealing with this is being relatable, adding that the last thing you want to be is patronizing when talking to students when it comes to behaving accordingly. He said that it all comes down to those personal relationships.

“Lois agreed that trialing was necessary when student interest was significant”

The next topic the candidates talked about had to do with their views on trails for sports clubs.

Lois agreed that trialing was necessary when student interest was significant. Lois herself has had a negative experience with trails, but believes that it all comes down to the way students are treated at trials which is very important.

Peter noted he did not have personal experience with sports trials. However, he believes that club and resource capacity should be increased instead of refusing to manage larger clubs.

Emma said that trails are a necessary part of performance sports, but adds that it should be stressed and encouraged to students that there are many other ways in which stidets can partake in sport such as Engage. She ends by saying that it is important to engage clubs at lower levels.

Cassie as well agrees that trails are important and a valuable tool in evaluating the skill pool. She says that it is important to communicate with the students so they are aware of all the other different ways in which they can still play the respective sport.

Stuart said that removing trails would be risky due to the competitive attitude. He said that all it really takes is communication and having a speech at the start so that everyone is aware of the process. He continued to say that he would tell them that is always a chance to work yourself up into the team.

“Cassie goes on to say that it’s a cultural mind-set”

Another interesting question that was brought up had to do with initiations and how they would prevent them from happening during welcome events.

Lois was initiated and had a good experience, but is aware of the problem. She believes it’s about making sure the committees know they are responsible.

Peter thinks it is about hitting a chord on a few influential people in each club. He plans to spread the message of the harm of initiations consistently throughout the year.

Emma said that signalling out students should not happen and that everyone should be aware of this.  She does, however, admit that the fact that they haven’t had any issues is a positive sign.

Cassie goes on to say that it’s a cultural mind-set, but they need to show that by partaking in these, they are essentially de-humanising the students, and treating anyone differently is “simply wrong.”

Stuart mentions that he is aware of initiations but thinks that students have a better understanding of what is okay and what is not: “some initiations have gone on but we still haven’t heard anything about them which I think is a good sign.”

Sarah Lindgarde and Goda Naujokaityte

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