On Monday 4th March 2019, the candidates running for Activities Officer in this year’s Students’ Union Elections participated in election hustings.
Each candidate, Ava Meyer, Emily Coleman, Aanchal Rawal, Georgina Pittman, Rushi Pandit, and Ozan Khan, was given five minutes to introduce themselves before they were asked questions from both the audience in attendance and from questions posted online.
Emily opened explaining her five main points which focus on creating unity between student groups and student societies. One way in which she wants to put this forward is by increasing visibility across campus, by introducing a physical hub for a student body and societies on Jubilee Campus and involving Jubilee Campus in Welcome Week.
Ava gave a brief overview of her manifesto points, stating that there have been issues such as debt that other committees have to carry forward that isn’t fair and hinders the amount of work that they can do as a society. This falls in line with her main manifesto point about reviewing the STARs system which acts as a way for societies to gain recognition for the work that they do.
Rushi during his time at Nottingham he’s tried to get involved in as much as possible and has worked on inclusive events and large scale events such as “Summer Ball”. Talking and working with hundreds of students has helped him have a good insight into what works and what doesn’t.
Georgina has been apart of 11 student groups and 4 committees during her time at university and believes this has given her well-rounded experience to tackle what being Activities Officer will entail. Her main incentives would be creating a points scheme for students, the more you get involved the more points you have. It would be in the form of a QR code on the uni app that would reward students for getting involved in the SU for things such as signing up for societies.
Aanchal has planned the International Festival Week as International Student Network Officer, which she believes shows her hardworking nature and the importance of a cultural presence in the activities network. As International Officer, she has actively put in work to create an International Hub on Jubilee Campus.
Ozan was not able to attend due to a family emergency, however, Zoe MacKenzie read out a statement on his behalf which stated one of his main manifesto points, to boost communication between students and the Activity Officer.
The first question asked was how each candidate would work on the best way to connect students on University Park and Sutton Bonnington.
“Groups aren’t aware of the similar groups that are on SB and linking similar groups will increase collaboration and awareness”
Emily started off by expressing the importance of creating a physical hub in the exchange building, for example on Jubilee Campus, and holding a welcome fair there and rewarding them through the STARS system “groups aren’t aware of the similar groups that are on SB and linking similar groups will increase collaboration.”
Georgina agreed to state that “a lot of students don’t know what’s going on and in order to increase awareness is to give access to the weekly newsletters on each campus.” Rushi highlighted the fact that SU staff members are now based across different campuses.
The next question was asking the candidates what exactly they would do to support SRSs, excluding STARs. Ava stated that she wanted to establish a monthly meeting for the Activities Officer and SRSs to make sure that they are able to communicate with each other and so that Activities Officer has a better understanding of the work that SRSs do because they put in hours that are similar to a full-time job.
Georgina agrees to state that there needs to be a society council equivalent for them, Aanchal added to this saying that as Activities Officer she would devise a different recognition system entirely.
All candidates agreed that they were aware of the hard work that SRS members put in and want to communicate with them to make sure that they are awarded accordingly.
How are you going to apply your manifesto to everyone and how are you going to maintain them and keep engagement up?
Georgina: Feedback and communication are very important, constant feedback and communication, meeting people and being on the ground and discussing how well the incentives are going. If more people are involved in something they’ll feel accountable for its success
Rushi: There are 34 thousand students here, you choose a candidate based off of what they propose, improving policies so that more people get involved and good marketing to keep engagement up.
Aanchal: Dual responsibility and accountability at all times
Emily: Communication and collaboration are key, working with different societies to see what works well. Creating guidelines in terms of what helps put on good events.
Ava: Focusing on Welcome week and refreshers to make sure that societies work better
How will you engage the sites that aren’t as known as UP, SB, and JB in activities?
Rushi: Working with committees that work on different sites such as Derby, supporting these committees and engaging in outreach.
Aanchal: Worked as outreach officer during the welcome week at Derby, so is aware of King-Meadows and Derby and it is important to target welcome week to these sites.
Emily: Frequent physical officer visits are important, targeting students who study there who would know the best ways to increase interaction and what they want and need.
Ava: “Communication is a really good basis to start”. Listening to different student groups and societies to make sure that there is a connection, social media presence stretches to other campuses.
Georgina: “I know very little about Derby but I am very willing to learn”. Communication is a massive part of it and feedback.
A student in the audience had a question for Georgina asking, how she will avoid creating an elitist culture within her points system?
Georgina replied saying her plans to tighten up the system and make sure that every individual will be held accountable for everything that they do within the SU. “There’s more responsibility to have to follow through with your individual efforts that you use in the SU.”
The next question was directed to Rushi, questioning what he will add to the SU training for societies?
Rushi stated that whilst he was aware of the training that was already in place he would focus on providing “a marketing guide because not every group will be clear on the effective way to market their events. The training already exists but whether they actually follow them through is something completely different.”
Featured image courtesy of Ella Taylor.
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