Joe Paternoster is running in the 2022 SU elections for the role of Activities Officer. Impact’s Elizabeth Marshall caught up with him to ask him a few questions.
Q1: What do you think makes you a good fit for Activities Officer?
I feel the main thing that makes me a great fit is my experience of community student group related activities whilst I’ve been at uni. So I’ve been president of the English society in my third year that’s quite big one. I’ve been a lead welcome mentor for the past two years.
This year, I was given the award of the most approachable welcome mentor. I was a module convener on a public speaking Nottingham Advantage Award module in my second year, so that is interacting and teaching students my age, younger and older, to public speak. That’s quite a unique experience.
“I’ve seen both sides of the arts and sciences divide”
I’ve been a writer and editor for Impact Magazine, and I’ve written sporadically throughout the years. I’m part of NSTV, I’m quite a big part of that now doing various projects for them. I’ve been involved with Karnival this year. I’ve been involved in the Creative Writing society and in the Hide and Seek society involved in recreational running society. I went to an improv society event that was entertaining.
But you know, my broader point is here that I really have done it all. And I’m a psychology student now and I did English for three years before that, so I’ve seen both sides of the arts and sciences divide. I’m really quite experienced, and I’m really passionate for student groups.
They’ve carried me through what have been some of my darkest times at uni, they’ve given me a purpose where I didn’t have any stuff to do. And when I’ve needed something to put myself too, so student groups that really helped me and I felt pave the way for me to give something back would be to be activities officer.
Q2: Why did you run for the role of Activities Officer?
I sort of jokingly say that since I was a young boy, I’ve wanted to be activities officer. So, when I was 12, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. And you know, it’s quite tragic. But when I was in hospital, I encountered sort of lots of people who are actually in far worse conditions than I was like.
“It humbled me somewhat, made me quite grateful for my position”
I was quite lucky in the sense that my epilepsy was quickly controlled by my tablets. And so, it humbled me somewhat, made me quite grateful for my position. And what that then did was it made me highly motivated to not just rest on my laurels, and then be motivated to go out there. And really do the best that I could help and that has really propelled me and motivated my charity work that I’ve done.
Over the years, I’ve been a rep and volunteer for a couple of years now. I’m on the trustee board for that charity. I’ve worked with Cancer Research UK as well. In the past, I’ve done lots of charity work in my time. But there’s that ethos, that sort of desire to help others that has pushed me through my time and means that I really feel I would thrive as activities officer.
Q3: How do you plan on making societies and union activities more accessible and inclusive to everyone?
Inclusion is the ‘I’ part of my ‘United’ campaign. I’ve got quite a few ideas, the first of which relates to myself, I have epilepsy, a hidden disability. And I spoke to the current liberation officer, and he said there could be some use in having sort of a hidden disability perspective as on the inclusion and liberation training that student groups get.
Obviously through no fault of student group’s own, it can be quite hard to know whether someone has a hidden disability or not, so my insight on that could be quite useful. In general, when I was president of the English society, we had EDI [Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion] reps.
“Then as well, I want to focus a bit on international students and staff“
I think EDI reps have been introduced on societies. I imagine having a consultation at the start of the year, with all of the EDI officers on different committees, as these focus groups, just seeing where currently we are falling short on sort of equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Because that’s the best way to shape policy is to talk to those who are most informed, which would be the EDI officers. And then as well, I want to focus a bit on international students and staff. And there’s the global buddies campaign, which I don’t think a lot of people are aware about, which is sort of a campaign that pairs international students up I believe.
It could be a good thing to help promote, and really make more people know about to make international students to feel more included to really push to help international students during Welcome Week as well.
And doing stuff like story takeovers, Instagram, and things like that to get international students more involved, I think could be quite good.
Q4: How will you help the Students’ Union, and its societies and its activities recover after the pandemic?
And so, a big part of my campaign is the unite part. And in my eyes, we’ve had two years of real doom and gloom and sort of real misery and isolation. And so, I want to put smiles on people’s faces, I want to bring people together again, in a way that people feel comfortable and safe as people are still quite tentative coming out of COVID.
But fundamentally, I want the student groups to come together societies, charity groups, the media societies, student run services, stuff like that come together produce some great events, great content.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if next summer on the downs it was like there was almost like a festival“
Stuff like Nottingham’s Got Talent as well, I’ve proposed a Strictly Come Dancing fundraising event that everyone can get involved in to really see the Students Union come together and become a community again.
There’s my Tunes point, as well, which is the TMR unite campaign basically I’m referring to music, but I really want Nottingham student musicians to be supported and I’ve always found music is quite a good way to unite people and bring people together.
I had this idea literally in a dream last night, wouldn’t it be cool if next summer on the downs it was like there was almost like a festival, we could have some people on the Florence boot, that sort of grassy plane and some people on the downs, all student musicians would have their own little bit set up.
It’s sunny out with a festival vibe people are going around sharing stuff they like, and you will get people from Sutton Bonnington over as well and make them feel more included. I really want to put a smile on people’s faces again and bring people together and that is probably the fundamental through line throughout my whole campaign.
Q5: Boots or SPAR?
I think I’m going to go for SPAR. I mean, there are boots meal deals and stuff, but I find whenever I go in boots, most of the stuff is already gone and everything which is a bit of a pain, and then SPAR has custard creams which I really like.
Voting for the 2022 SU elections closes at 1pm on Friday 25th March.
You can read Joe’s manifesto and vote in the elections here.
Featured image courtesy of Chiara Crompton. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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