Meet the Candidates: Activities Officer – Denis Lelin

Denis Lelin is running to be UoN’s Students’ Union Activities Officer for the 2020/21 academic year. Impact caught up with Denis to ask him a few questions. 

Do you think Student Run Services and societies need to be treated differently, and if so, how do you plan on doing this?

I think it is reasonable to ask for more support from the Student’s Union to be able to carry on providing the SRSs. For example, for media groups if you are expected to cover elections, the SU should be responsible to provide you with tailored media training. Otherwise it isn’t a fair trade of services in my opinion. Not to mention, it is harder for some SRSs to keep self-sustainable, as we have fewer active members and we can’t charge for some of the services unlike societies.

“We need to make our communication readable for people with learning differences… It’s all about raising awareness.”

How would you encourage societies to run more accessible and inclusive events?

First of all, we need to improve our society training with regards to EDI and inclusion overall. I will make accessibility statements compulsory for the union events, but I will also help societies provide one if they wish so. Lastly, we need to make OUR communication readable for people with learning differences, unlike it is at the moment, and again help publicity secs learn how to do it too. It’s all about raising awareness.

Do you have any preliminary ideas of how you could alter freshers’ week in the current COVID-19 situation e.g. by moving events online?

If our start date is pushed back, the welcome week could be pushed back too and if it cannot work in its fullest capacity, it should be a similar but a smaller scale event. Moreover, the Get Involved fair could go online, and we could have a virtual Portland building – Minecraft vibes, that then could have videos dotted around the place.  Similarly, we could have a walk around Lenton, Beeston and Kegworth on Google Earth with ‘pinned’ hotspots in town like the Kitty Café or cinemas. Where there is a will there is a way!

“I definitely want to meet each SRS individually and ask each of them what they want from me and how they want to supported.”

What do you see as the next steps for Student Run Services?

As said, first of all, they need to get embedded into our democratic structures. Firstly, I definitely want to meet each SRS individually (as well as societies or other student groups for this sake) and ask each of them what they want from me and how they want to be supported. I don’t really want to leave a legacy or completely change our union, no, what I want is to make sure that everyone gets the support they need. However I obviously did consider having reps from each SRS, or maybe have a separate committee/focus group with them. What I definitely do not want to do is simply add everyone to the current societies council, as it is already very large and unengaged, so I am thinking of more tailored approaches.

Do you have any ideas on how to make promotion of events more environmentally friendly?

Yes, I am thinking of a greater utilisation of Portland screens and in order to achieve that we need CLEAR and easy to find guidance on how to use them. Another idea is to utilise pavement and chalks. Also, I think we could provide more notice boards, perhaps using whiteboards to reduce the use of paper leaflets. Lastly, we need to make more use of social media promotion. £10 that you could spend on leaflets that go in the bin will give you a weekly ad on Facebook with a reach of 1000 people per day and we are talking to a targeted audience. This is a lot more cost efficient and environmentally friendly, but again, we should develop training for that.

Do you plan on encouraging alcohol-free events within societies and the SU, and if so, how?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it encouraging alcohol-free events, but simply provide different types of events, where the alcohol is not needed. This year I organised a few incredible events which were alcohol-free like Wear Your Flag with over 200 students in the beginning of the year, or International Ball which was fully vegan and alcohol-free with over 200 students too. The same can go within societies, just make sure your events are diverse. I think if the SU could get similar discounted deals with other providers, NOT just the club managers and owners, the societies will be quick on exploring new opportunities.

You said in your manifesto that you’d like to ‘create an association body on Jubilee.’ Could you explain more about what this would entail- who would make up this association body and what exactly would they do?

Of course! So I am from Jubilee Campus myself, or I consider myself so, because that’s where I stayed in first year. Jubilee is the only learning sight that has NO overarching representational body apart from the JCRs, which diminishes the sense of belonging here. Based on the current engagement of the campus a way to start would be to have the tri-JCR council, a collective of 3 JCR committees together.

Your manifesto also outlined that you’d ‘set up large union events at all learning sites’. Sutton Bonnington campus is difficult to reach for many students, how would you encourage them to attend events here as well as the other campuses?

That’s what I thought, however, this year I helped the International Rep on SB Guild with the International Music Night event, for which there were provided buses from UP and back and to my surprise around 300 people went. I also don’t think events should be advertised as “SB Events” or “UP Events”. I think that more people from uni park would love to get involved in Barn parties or come to the farmers market. Providing the transport and increasing promotion is all we need.

Voting for the 2020 SU elections closes at 3pm on Monday 11th May.

The link to vote for the 2020 Students’ Union candidates is here.

Emily Casey

Featured image courtesy of Nina Sasha. 

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