Happening on Campus

Manifesto Reviews- Full Time Officers: Postgraduate Officer Candidates

Harry Chapman and Hannah Walton-Hughes

A group of Impact Magazine writers have looked over the candidate manifestos for this year’s Student Union Elections. Harry Chapman, Katie Sullivan, Emma Burnett, Oli Harris, and Hannah Walton-Hughes summarised and discussed each candidate’s main manifesto points, and gave their views on the manifesto. Voting closes on 15th March 2024 at 2pm.

Abhishek Madan:

“I am committed to championing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of student life and organizational governance.”

Abhishek begins by explaining how his experience as an international student would benefit him in the Postgraduate Officer role. He recognises that many international students are postgraduates and would like to champion them as a priority. He wants to embrace the diverse student population here at UoN to create a more vibrant and inclusive community.

Much of what he wants to achieve in the role centres itself around diversity. Abhishek wants to advocate for policies that are inclusive for all. His manifesto suggests that his values are definitely in tandem with those of the Students’ Union.

Abhishek has experience in the world of work as well as his experiences as a student to bolster his campaign. He has had a stint as a marketing intern at a menopause-focused organisation, championing women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. He believes that his unique blend of academic knowledge and practical skills make him an ideal candidate for the officer role.

Abhishek writes a detailed account of what he would do as the Postgraduate Officer, although his manifesto it not the most readable when repeating his commitment to international students in the first paragraph. I think his proposals for helping the international student community are fantastic, however this comes at the cost of leaving little in his manifesto for postgraduates who aren’t international students.

Clement Asante:

“Together, let us embark on a mission to forge a stronger, more connected postgraduate community”

Main manifesto points:

  1. Enhanced Support for Postgraduate Inclusivity
  2. Tailored Postgraduate Workshops
  3. Proactive Representation and Advocacy
  4. Working with Academic Reps
  5. Support for International Students

Clement states his commitment to ensuring that postgraduate students feel represented. This is presented from the outset with the pledge to tailor welcome week to meet the needs of all postgraduates.

Clement’s manifesto also commendably talks of careers and employability, alumni events, adequate representation and support for international students. No stone is left unturned in respect of what the Postgraduate Officer role may entail.

Clement’s manifesto is detailed and well structured

His leadership credentials include holding the position of Vice President for the Ghana Biochemistry Students Association as an undergraduate, a role he describes fully in the experience section. He also has experience volunteering in a church, and is a current International Student Ambassador for the university.

Clement’s manifesto is detailed and well structured. It would be very easy to hold him to account for his proposals and his enthusiasm for the role he is applying for is compelling. It would remain to be seen how achievable some of his ideas are. Working with postgraduate academic reps requires the support of the Education Officer to ensure a functional education network, and while a Postgraduate Student Hub and a Postgraduate League Games inspired by the Varsity Series is ambitious, they also sould somewhat unrealistic.

Shuyu Lui:

“Together, we can work towards making the University of Nottingham a place where every postgraduate student thrives and feels a sense of belonging.”

Shuyu states that their primary goal as postgraduate officer would be to create “a more supportive and welcoming environment for all postgraduate students, with a special emphasis on the needs of international students.” Shuyu is an international postgraduate student, studying a PHD in English.

Collaboration with the other officers was a goal that Shuyu clearly outlined in their manifesto. Firstly with the Education Officer- to “address academic concerns and ensure that postgraduate students […] have access to resources and guidance that facilitate a smooth transition into the university’s academic landscape.” In terms of international students and education, Shuyu wants to create “targeted orientation programmes, workshops and mentoring initiatives” which will help them adapt to the British educational system.

The second collaboration Shuyu discusses is with the Activities and Sports Officers. Shuyu wants to orgnaise social activities, workshops, and events to encourage “camaraderie” among post-grads.

Diversity and inclusion is another key point made by Shuyu in their manifesto; “actively engaging with student groups and organisations to understand their unique needs and concerns.”

Finally, Shuyu wants to have “regular forums and feedback mechanisms” to “gather input and address concerns promptly” and “open [a] line of communication between postgraduate students and university administration.”

Shuyu outlined why they believe they are best suited to the role. Serving as University Ambassador, “serving as a bridge between prospective students and the university”, the experience has “heightened [Shuyu’s] awareness of the multifaceted nature of student needs” and provided “valuable insights into the diverse concerns and challenges that students from various backgrounds face.”

Shuyu has some really interesting ideas regarding increasing inclusivity and diversity

Shuyu was an associate at Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in West London, where they organised events and workshops for young people, “enhancing the well-being of individuals within a community” and giving them experience in “plan[ing] and execut[ing] successful events.”

Shuyu has some really interesting ideas regarding increasing inclusivity and diversity, and clearly has a wealth of experience in executing events and leading on community engagement.

It would be helpful to have a more structured set of manifesto points, as well as a bit more detail on the types of workshops and social activities they might set up.

Sony Sajan Isaac – no manifesto submitted

Tina Ehterami:

“A supportive, enriching, and thriving postgraduate community.”

Main manifesto points:

  1. Enhancing Teaching and Assessment Quality
  2. Strategic Networking and Experience for Career Success
  3. Improving Student Life Quality
  4. Promoting Inclusive Social Initiatives

Tina wants to advocate for smaller class sizes for postgraduate students, to “create a more conductive learning environment and ensure inclusive classrooms”. She also wants to fight for a formative task to be set in every module, with feedback within the first four weeks, as well as pushing for students to select one module outside the university’s recommendations, to be studied alongside their major. Finally, she wishes to advocate for inclusive and accessible university services to “remove barriers” for those with diverse needs and disabilities.

She pledges to try and introduce an Apprenticeship course in the final semester to help students to “engage with companies or organisations as apprentices and gain hands-on experience.” She also wants to connect students with “alumni, postgraduate, and industry experts.”

In order to tackle the cost of living crisis, Tina wants to establish a student-run network “for buying and selling second-hand goods, including clothes, books, and accessories.” Other financial initiatives include increasing scholarship opportunities for Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth students, and the establishment of a Postgraduate Student Experience Grant Programme.

Tina wants to engage the student body in “cultural exchange events” such as “Global Ceremony”, and fostering a “welcoming and inclusive environment” by “actively recognising and celebrating individual contributions and achievements.”

As a postgraduate student, Tina understands the “unique challenges we face”. She was responsible for collaborating with colleagues to organise high-level meetings for the Asian Productivity Organisation, sharing knowledge across 21 economies, honing her “audience engagement” and “communication” skills.

Tina then specified what in her personality made her right for the role, describing herself as a “passionate problem-solver and advocate”, “committed to identifying and addressing barriers faced by the postgraduate community”, with a “detail-oriented approach and analytical experience.”

I particularly commend Tina’s commitments around easing the cost of living crisis for students; these sound practical and important steps. Some very interesting ideas.

I would like to have heard in a little more detail how Tina’s experiences would make her a strong candidate. For example, when she describes herself as a “passionate problem solver”, I’d have liked to see a bit more evidence as to how she has developed that skill.

Xuan Zeng:

“Together with me, we are not only bringing changes, we ARE the changes.”

Main manifesto points:

  1. Practice Makes Perfect
  2. Feedback Matters
  3. Tailored Activities From Societies

At the start of their manifesto, Xuan comments on how, as an international postgraduate student, she has observed that international students do not always feel confident speaking up in classes, due to “pronunciation anxiety, causing negative effects on our willingness to communincate.”

Xuan wants to work with the Activity and Education Officers in order to run weekly meetings of classmates, “to talk about anything, but of course in English only!”. Xuan wants to introduce fun language games into these sessions.

Xuan outlines their past experience as a teacher, and their realisation of the importance of feedback. Xuan wants students to speak to them at any stage throughout the term, so they can bring feedback to relevant staff members immediately. “I can be the perfect bridge between our teaching faculty and students.”

After acknowledging that many postgraduate students do not join societies due to the fact that they are only at the university for one year, Xuan says they want to work with societies to better tailor their content to postgraduate students, to encourage more to take part.

Xuan describes themself as a “natural campaigner” who is “enthusiastic, creative, and compassionate”. Xuan points to her five month internship with a Human Resource company in 2019, where they interviewed candidates, “learned how to recruit people” and learned “team management”. Teaching English to children under five also helped them with their management skills.

Xuan was a student representative for four years in college, and was responsible for expressing “students’ needs and suggestions to teachers to improve class quality.” They also pointed out their successes in English speech contests back in China, meaning Xuan can “deliver information clearly and persuade people genuinely.”

Xuan clearly has a great deal of experience that they can bring to the role of Postgraduate Officers, and I think the idea of trying to open up societies to postgraduates is very important. Overall, a very good manifesto.

It would be good to know of any other specific initiatives that Xuan intends to bring in to improve postgraduates’ experiences at UON, in addition to regular meetings.

YanYan Bai:

“I am open-minded, empathetic, and dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment for all students.”

Main manifesto points:

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Cultural Exchange
  3. Sports and Wellness
  4. Community Engagement

YanYan’s main aim is to enhance the academic, social, and cultural experiences of all posgraduates at UoN.

This manifesto pledges to advocate for the boosting the availability of research grants and scholarships by at least 10%, which is a very interesting proposition. YanYan also wants to establish a mentorship program for postgraduates, help international students with different policies, encourage physical activity, and facilitate opportunities for postgraduates to engage in community service projects together.

YanYan is a Chinese student who is active in the Students’ Union. She is involved with the EDI committee and the International Students’ Network in a leadership role.

I think YanYan could represent postgraduates well at UoN. Her position as an international student puts her in an advantageous position with so many postgraduates also being international students. With many international students in the running for the same role however it may be that she needs to appeal to home students also.

Full officer manifestos can be read on the UoNSU website.

Harry Chapman and Hannah Walton-Hughes

Featured image courtesy of Korng Sok via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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