On Monday 21st March, Impact News attended a Question Time in Monica Partridge, which included the candidates running for the role of SU Activities Officer, Sports Officer, Welfare and Wellbeing Officer, and Community Officer. Question Time gave the candidates the opportunity to re-enforce their main points and expand on their manifestos.
First to take the stand were the two candidates for the role of Sports Officer
Student Voice Manager and Deputy Returning Officer of the SU elections, Ashley Storer-Smith, led the event. Each candidate was given one minute for an introduction, followed by questions from both Ashley and the audience. Finally, they were given one minute again for conclusions.
First to take the stand were the two candidates for the role of Sports Officer: Sean Nolan and Marcus Briggs.
Inclusivity, accessibility and diversity were topics raised both in the prepared questions, and in questions from the audience.
Sean Nolan touched on his extensive experience of sport at the University of Nottingham; he has previously served as Chair of Welfare in Sport, whilst also serving on the Squash committee. He outlined his main aims of creating inclusion in Sport and discussed introducing opportunities for disadvantaged groups to take part in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
Marcus Briggs emphasised his stance on welfare; there is “no strength in silence.” He wants to push for smaller, less competitive sports to be given attention, in addition to headline games. He also raised the idea of hosting weekly drop-in sessions, where suggested improvements in sport could be made. He covered one of his main manifesto points: the promotion of ‘Vamp up Varsity’.
Both candidates discussed how they would improve the relationship between UoN Sport and the Student Union. Sean hopes to provide a “clear” and “consistent” output from UoN and SU both, after commenting of how cross-over information can sometimes get lost. Marcus wants to inform members about the work the SU does behind the scenes and raise awareness of how it is there to “represent” the “entire student body.”
Ashley then raised the issue of UoN using the “highest cost for engaging with SU sports in the UK” and asked the candidates how they would ensure all students had better access to sports.
Both candidates agreed that more needed to be done to improve accessibility and diversity.
Sean mused that this issue would take “a lot of time” and work with people high up taking “accountability” for the lack of accessibility and the price barrier for IMS sessions, for example, which are currently only free if you have a UoN Sport membership.
Sean responded to Ashley’s questions about how he would tackle the loss of knowledge about the training and behaviour of sports groups, in a post-COVID world, by saying that it is “all about collaboration.” He believes that Sport needs to improve welfare training, which is currently “limited.”
Marcus discussed his participation in the Rugby Minds Campaign Team, which ran consent sessions with the male rugby team/IMS rugby. He wants to extend this scheme to as many sporting clubs as possible, and ensure people are aware of what behaviour is expected of them.
A question from the audience followed: “How can we make sports more inclusive?”
Marcus said that he wants to include an ‘inclusive Sports Day’ at the beginning of every semester. He believes more sports should be included in the ‘Just Play’ programme; a programme aimed at students who do not have very much experience in sport, but who find it interesting.
they believe they are the best person for the job
Sean echoed his previous points about inclusion, whilst adding that he would work close with the welfare officer in a “proactive” way.
The two candidates concluded their questions by reiterating why they believe they are the best person for the job.
Marcus drew attention to his experience in his two-year role as a club president, and ended by promising- “as your Sports Officer, I won’t drop the ball.”
Sean said that he had been involved in sports throughout the whole of his three years at university, and described himself as “passionate” and “enthusiastic”, participating in sport at all levels.
“You’ll see me cheering you on.” he finished.
Daisy Forster was introduced next, as the only candidate running for the role of Community Officer. She is a third year Liberal Arts student, specialising in History.
In her introduction, Daisy talked about how she is currently President of the Acapella society and serves on the Amnesty committee. She has also recently started a UoN gender health gap campaign.
Daisy approached this from a personal perspective
Topics covered in this set of questions included what Ashely termed “dodgy” landlords, the relationship between the University and local authorities, inter-campus relationships, sustainability and refugees / asylum seekers.
In response to the first topic, Daisy approached this from a personal perspective, commenting on how she “had her deposit taken away for no reason.” She said it’s important to raise awareness of what rights students have, and how they can get help.
Daisy wants to build a better relationship between the SU and Nottingham City’s local authorities, primarily by “getting in a room with them” and building a relationship through face-to-face contact. She hopes students and student groups will get involved with this, as well as Officers.
Another massive issue that Daisy wants to tackle is sustainability on campus. She raised the problem that the University does not currently have information about biodiversity on campus, or about how to improve it. There is “no point being the second greenest university in the world, if we haven’t done the groundwork”, she said.
Daisy also discussed making the University of Nottingham a hedgehog-friendly campus, by involving students in research and striving for the gold Hedgehog Preservation Society award.
she wants to increase the student activities held on Jubilee
She also touched on inter-campus relationships between the Student Union and the Jubilee/Sutton Bonington campuses. There are currently no representatives from either of these campuses in the union, and this is something Daisy wants to push for, either electing a full-time or part-time representative.
She said the catering facilities on Sutton Bonington “drastically” need improving, and that she wants to increase the student activities held on Jubilee.
In terms of Welcome Week, Daisy is committed to making it the “absolute best that it can be” for all campuses.
This was in response to a question about welcome events on Sutton Bonington and Jubilee, from a member of the audience who served on the SU Welcome Committee this year.
Daisy finished with a final key point. She wants the University to provide more support for refugees and asylum seekers; those “most in need”.
Daisy said she is “incredibly passionate about the University” and described herself as “ambitious” and “striving”.
Joe is a member of countless societies
The third set of candidates to be questioned were those running for Activities Officer: Joe Paternoster and Yan Lu.
Yan is an international student from China, in the final year of her Postgraduate studies, majoring in Education. She wants to create a “communicating community” for all students and connect those with similar interests.
Joe is a member of countless societies, including being a prior President of the English society, and a lead Welcome mentor two years in a row. He said he wants to “give back” to the societies that have helped him over the years. He wants to “put a smile” on people’s face again, after such an isolating time.
Ashley asked them what they thought could be done to better support student group funding.
Joe said, “the money is there”, student groups just need to prove worthwhile for it. To get more people to buy membership, he wants to continue “increasing and boosting engagement”.
Yan discussed how she was a member of the Outreach group when she was an undergraduate, and they always reached out to businesses for funding for student groups. She believed a “mutually beneficial agreement” could be achieved between the SU and these businesses.
For the voice of student committee members to be better heard within the SU, Joe wants to continually maintain communications and reviews between EDI (Equality Diversity and Inclusion) Officers and committee members. Yan wants to promote the collection of students’ opinions through social media and interviews.
When asked how they would increase student engagement, Yan said that she would continue to promote SU activities through emails and social media, as well as meeting with all student groups to discuss how they can better engage students.
Joe discussed his success with engaging with students “a lot over COVID”, such as through his running of the University Challenge society. Students got to know him through everything he has participated in.
Both candidates concluded by reiterating why they believe they are strong candidates for the role, with Joe quoting Susan Boyle: “I dreamed a dream.” His dream is for there to be a “happy” and “collaborative” feeling on campus.
Yan finished by saying that she wants to “serve our fellow students.”
The final set of the questions were posed to the singular Welfare and Wellbeing candidate, Mental Health Nursing student, Gemma Weston. Gemma’s central point in her introduction was her aim to “help students help themselves.”
Gemma recognised that this was a national problem
She wants to provide advice that allows students to be “confident” about making decisions about their university life. Gemma also wants to develop an online platform that will help students for whom the more conventional welfare methods, such as meditation, have not worked. The platform will allow students to discuss their worries.
When questioned about what she would do to increase safety at night, Gemma recognised that this was a national problem, and therefore it would be more effective to take the issue beyond the SU and to local councils.
Gemma said that she believed “drop-in-sessions” were the answer to creating a “no-hierarchy” system within societies.
In response to Ashley’s question about how to engage students not in societies in wellbeing and welfare campaigns, Gemma recognised that these students can often feel “excluded”, and she wants to change this.
In terms of consent, Gemma wants to promote a “not accusational” approach, where everyone is considered. She also referred to a key point in her manifesto: promoting and developing ‘Project Period’ for all menstruating students.
Featured image courtesy of Chiara Crompton. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of Hannah Walton-Hughes. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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