Impact returned to Monica Partridge for the second round of SU question time on Tuesday 22nd March. Speaking last night was Jay Simpson for Postgraduate Officer, Ife Oyedeji for Liberation Officer, and Sultan Chaudhury for Union Development Officer. Impact’s Laura Scaife reports on the candidates’ responses.
First Up: Jay Simpson (They/Them) for Postgraduate Officer
Jay began their opening speech by outlining their three main goals if elected as Postgraduate Officer. They want to improve campus integration with Sutton Bonington; increase the accessibility of welfare and healthcare for postgraduate students; and increase the ease of transition from undergraduate to postgraduate, and then onto the postgraduate’s chosen career.
The first question Jay was asked was: “Given the experiences of taught postgraduate students and research postgraduate students vary greatly, how would you tailor activities and services to be applicable for all postgraduates?”
Jay responded that, from personal experience, taught postgraduate students typically get a great deal of social interaction through their degree, whereas research postgraduate students can be more isolated when they are based in laboratories on their own. Therefore, Jay would work to integrate the needs of both groups through running surveys to establish the needs of new postgraduate students.
Next Jay was asked: “What would you do to see more postgraduates engage with the education network/postgrad education structure?” They responded by saying they would increase events and accessibility on campuses. Jay gave examples of offering drop in sessions and regular office hours to encourage engagement across all campuses.
Jay was then asked: “How would you ensure the reach of events and campaigns for postgraduate students accurately and diversely reflect common barriers to study for postgraduates?” Jay would keep the hybrid learning approach of teaching online and in person to help distance learners. Jay would also run events outside of work hours, for example in the evenings and over the weekend, so part-time students can attend.
Jay is most excited about getting Sutton Bonington considered in the decision making process
Following on from this question, Jay was asked: “How would you engage with students from minority backgrounds?” Although Jay said they have experience in some of these groups, as they are part of the LGBTQ+ community, they would love to hear the perspective of others whilst also drawing on their own experiences. To do this they would work closely with other officers, such as the Welfare and Liberation Officers, to ensure protected characteristics are considered in all decisions.
Finally Jay was asked: “What are you looking forward to doing the most if elected into the role?” Jay is most excited about getting Sutton Bonington considered in the decision making process when it comes to the Student Union (SU).
In Jay’s closing speech they highlighted the importance of Sutton Bonington being included in decision making with the SU and encouraging more students to visit Sutton Bonington. They also plan to focus on wellbeing and work more with the careers team at the University.
Next Up: Ife Oyedeji (She/They) for Liberation Officer
In Ife’s opening speech, she argued that she is super passionate about social justice and community liberation. Their main aim as Liberation officer is to decolonise the university; quoting Audre Lorde, she said that “Without community there is no liberation”. She argued that marginalised communities are hubs for social change and emphasised the importance of tackling accessibility issues.
The first question Ife was asked was: “Given the significant increase in hate speech on campus and beyond – what would you do to make these students feel safe and heard?” She asked students to stand strong against hate speech. She highlighted that sometimes students don’t know what classifies as hate speech or how to report it. Therefore she would reform the reporting process and educate the general student body to fight actively against these crimes.
Next Ife was asked: “How would you encourage more students from liberation backgrounds to engage in projects and campaigns?” She said that students can feel that because the university has a white majority, these spaces don’t always represent them. Therefore she would run community liberation forums to connect with the student body and ask them what they want, to create action from the students themselves.
Ife reminded us that decolonisation is becoming a buzzword
Then Ife was asked: “How would you work to ensure projects delivered by the SU are intersectional and collaborative to foster a sense of unified belonging and community?” Ife promised to take in the need for intersectionality in every room and every decision.
When questions were opened to the room a student asked Ife: “How would you reclaim the University’s current decolonisation work to ensure it is actively working?” Ife reminded us that decolonisation is becoming a buzzword. Therefore she emphasised the importance of active work to uproot systems. Ife argued for a systemic review of where there are issues.
Finally Ife was also asked: “What are you most excited about if you were elected to this role?” Ife is most excited about community liberation; she is looking forward to working with liberation networks to inspire change. She is also looking forward to actively reaching out to marginalised student bodies to create a sense of belonging and create a safe space to encourage them to speak up and make change.
In their closing speech, Ife thanked everyone attending and emphasised how grateful she was to break down barriers. Ife closed with their campaign slogan: “be liberation aware, vote Ife”.
Finally: Sultan Chaudhury (Sully) (He/Him) for Union Development Officer
In Sully’s opening speech he discussed his previous role as Liberation officer supporting marginalised groups. Next year, Sully would like to take this further through his three manifesto aims: “Presence, Power, and Policy”.
Sully’s main aim is to work with the student media groups
The first question Sully was asked was: “How would you encourage students to engage in key democratic activity?” Sully would work on students knowing about the role of the SU because most students aren’t even aware we have an academic council and committee spaces where we make big decisions. Sully’s main aim is to work with the student media groups to make sure students know about these democratic processes.
Due to Sully’s response, a student in the audience followed up with the question: “How do you aim to achieve this increased coverage of the SU with the student media groups when media groups also struggle with engagement?” Sully is hopeful that media groups working with the SU will create a positive feedback loop. It will both increase representation of media groups and representation of the SU. Sully aims to regrow engagement to the levels we had pre-Covid.
Next Sully was asked: “What would you like to see added to the SU in terms of the social enterprise?” Sully responded that the Zero Waste shop is incredible, however, it only opened just before the pandemic and was lost due to Covid. Sully would like to see the Zero Waste Shop reopen. He also believes the SU’s commercial enterprises should be available on every campus.
Then Sully was asked: “Where do you think the SU can place more investment to improve the whole student experience?” To answer this question, Sully returned to his manifesto. Sully believes it is important to empower students when it comes to ownership. He reminded the audience that we own the SU and that the more we use it the better it becomes.
Sully wants to use his past experiences to continue learning
Finally Sully was asked: “How have your past experiences shaped your plans for your year in office if elected?” Sully has been a University of Nottingham student since 2012 and loves the University. He thinks it’s a shame that students don’t know about everything around them. Sully wants to use his past experiences to continue learning and increase student engagement!
In Sully’s closing speech he reminded us that the election period is very short. He asked us to Stand with Sully on his Instagram and enjoy the election process. He encouraged us to take the opportunity to be involved and please vote!
To read the candidates’ manifestos and cast your vote click here. Voting closes on Friday 11th March at 1pm.
Featured image courtesy of Chiara Crompton. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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