Required: one YUSU President

The wacky, the weird and the wonderful seems an adequate way to sum up last night’s YUSU Presidential hustings. Candidates for key YUSU positions gave short ego-building speeches on why they were better than everyone else. We laughed, we cried and at one point I even had a little snooze.

It was almost 11pm before the candidates for YUSU President filed onto stage. They were: David Levene, Tim Ngwena, Oliver Hutchings, Roberto Powell, Matthew Freckleton and David Hansen. None came off remarkably badly, yet some definitely scored higher than others.

The proceedings began, and first up was a ‘big name’. Mr David Levene graced the stage and soon familiar phrases were filling our ears: high tuition fees, department budget cuts, protection of college bars, fight against rent banding, increase of student participation. You know the story. Well presented, with a couple of funny bits: “My experience? What I do have is epic hair.”

And then the big one: Levene wants a page of each edition of Nouse and Vision for YUSU officers to write about what they’ve been doing.

Well, well. I may be a tiny bit biased, but I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of dictator YUSU imposing its views on the media. Sorry, Levene, but I don’t know whether you still have my vote.

Next up was the incumbent; the one and only Tim Ngwena. Now, Tim is a talker. He was slow and eloquent, he emphasised all the right details… but as much as I hate to say it, he didn’t really say much. Sure, he told us what he hadn’t done right this year, he drummed in the idea that a President needs experience to be effective (i.e. “elect me! I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt”) but as to what he intends to do if he does get elected… I really couldn’t tell you.

On the other hand, the next candidate, Oliver Hutchings (whose buttocks looked in serious danger of falling out of his too-tight pink trousers), told us exactly how he planned to achieve his aims. Aside from the cheesy rhyming lines (“We need detailed plans not simple scams”), Hutchings set out a clear policy plan: a greener, more democratic Union and fairer elections.

So maybe he did ramble on a bit, telling us to “elect the best candidate for you” (hint, hint: ME), and yes, he also spent a mystifying chuck of his two minutes explaining exactly what the job of the President is (and there was me thinking these were election speeches, not job synopses). But overall, he seemed like a nice guy who would fight tooth and nail for the student interests. So far? He’s definitely my favourite, but there’s still more to come.

The exotically named Roberto Powell was the next candidate to take centre stage. Powell seemed immediately desperate to prove that he had done a good job as Halifax Chair, and spent such a long time talking about his Halifax achievements that I wondered if he knew he was actually running for President at all.

But eventually (a raving Halifax foam party and a Halifax trip to Amsterdam later), he decided to mention the all important issue of the YUSU Presidency. Powell wants to invest in JCRs and create a landlord review website to help students choose houses. Most of all he wants YUSU to work for the students.

A little less “conversation and more action” seemed to be his motto. And he seemed like he meant it. While Hutchings might be the fun option, Powell is the serious one. Will he get things done? As he laboured to mention: his track record as Halifax Chair does work in his favour. So maybe he is the man for the job?

Next, I move onto the comic candidate of the night: the one and only David Hansen. Hansen addressed the “sub-human scum” that made up his audience, with his hands clasped behind his back and a poker straight stare on his face. He was, he claimed, “Dave from your Nightmares”. Amusing and highly entertaining though he was, I’d be highly surprised (and worried) if Hansen’s tale of being brought up among wolves and badgers won him the role of YUSU President. Though he was very, very funny.

Last but not least: was Matthew Freckleton. What can I say about Freckleton? Well, the first thing that springs to mind is lots of hands flying about the place. “I AM THAT CANDIDATE”, he said it slowly and clearly to ensure that no-one missed his point. So he has no YUSU experience whatsoever? According to Freckleton that’s a strength.

Coming from outside the Union will not only allow him to “see the bigger picture”, he will also escape the constraints of previous alliances.

Yes, yes and yes. I agree with you, Mr Freckleton, independence is good. But what worries me is Freckleton’s complete lack of experience of the complicated workings of YUSU. He may do a good job towards the end of his first term in office, but for the first half of his term, surely he’ll end up spending his time learning how the organisation works, how to get things done, and how to make necessary contacts? In short, he will be a burden on his fellow Sabbatical Officers.

We need a YUSU President who is fresh, strong and passionate. Good luck, boys.

41 comments

  1. You don’t seem to have said anything about David Hansen.

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  2. A dictator YUSU imposing its views on the media. Right. I am pretty sure that’s not what David had in mind when he proposed writing a column for you!

    David is clearly trying to address the communication gap that exists between YUSU officers and students. And that can only be a good thing, given that hardly any of us know what our elected representatives are supposed to be working on for most of the time.

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  3. 3 Mar ’10 at 4:30 pm

    David Levene

    Hi Victoria

    I don’t see it as YUSU dictating its views. As I said in the comments over on the other thread, I know and accept that some editions of Nouse and Vision won’t be able to accommodate articles from Officers, and that’s fine. But I think that when they can – and it’s about compromise – having YUSU’s perspective is a good thing: part of being accountable is actually telling people what we’re doing, and using our fantastic campus media (which gets a good chunk of YUSU funds) is a great way to do that.

    If you fancy talking about it a bit more, feel free to drop me an email on [email protected]

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  4. I like Freckleton – and surely the term of shadowing the current sabbs is the whole point of that – he’ll learn the workings of YUSU then. I think it is a strength, and he has good policies that are definitely possible. As someone who works in student media, his ideas are great. He has my vote.

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  5. I’ll have to agree with David. There’s a long way between dictating views and having a page for information.

    The rest of Vision/Nouse could still run as usual, and even criticise bits of the actual YUSU page. I think he’d use it more as a way to communicate information rather than opinion, just like he said.

    There’s too much going on on campus that people don’t know about, so that should help..!

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  6. 3 Mar ’10 at 5:12 pm

    sergeant lewis

    frecks 4 pres.

    his background in enterprise and business means that frecks know’s how to network and who is the write person to talk to, to ensure the job gets done!

    and yeah the whole shadowing thing too!

    frecks has my vote.

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  7. 3 Mar ’10 at 5:16 pm

    Matthew Freckelton (note - probably not Matthew Freckelton)

    Matthew Freckelton For President. I can get a swimming pool for campus thats already been agreed and planned for 18 months time no matter what but I can’t get heating or electricity for my own house…….WOOOOOOOP

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  8. I think that if Nouse are allowed to choose which page, it’s a good way for YUSU to tell students what’s going on. If YUSU can’t fill the page then it speaks wonders about how they’re doing.

    And I think that criticising Matt Freckleton for being ‘outside of the clique’ by saying he’ll be ‘a burden’ for the first half of a year is pretty harsh on Tim Ngwena and Tom Scott before him, neither of which knew much about YUSU but were just as good in the first half as the second half in charge. Generally Officers settle in over summer term and then the summer holidays so that they’re ready for everything before anyone else is dependent on them…

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  9. Asking for a page of Nouse or Vision, even on an ad hoc basis, is an unworkable policy that will lose Levene the vote of everyone who has worked for either paper on an editorial level. Sabbs have often written for the papers, but should be approached to do so rather than making the demand themselves. Lots of student papers are mouthpieces for their unions, but they’re noticeably weaker.

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  10. When current sabs struggle to write a blog entry on a regular basis for their own website, what is going to give them the time to write one for a campus paper for which there will be actual deadlines. Is Levene arguing that the blog system on the front page of YUSU’s website not the best way to comunicate information?

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  11. 3 Mar ’10 at 7:21 pm

    David Hansen (note: probably not David Hansen)

    Drat and blast the YSTV team. Their highly trained killers have clearly wiped the memory of my speech from poor Victoria Lee.

    First the mysterons, now this. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

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  12. 3 Mar ’10 at 8:19 pm

    David Levene

    @ LO’B

    “Asking for a page of Nouse or Vision, even on an ad hoc basis, is an unworkable policy”

    Why?

    “that will lose Levene the vote of everyone who has worked for either paper on an editorial level”

    Well, I don’t think it will – I think most people who have worked for the papers are reasonable people, and I don’t think this is an unreasonable request. I also think candidates should say what they think will be good ideas, not what they think will be popular, though I stand by my philosophy that there’s almost always a solution where both parties go away happy. I just don’t see why any student should reject the idea of a YUSU information page (when possible) out-of-hand.

    “Lots of student papers are mouthpieces for their unions”

    I don’t think just one page per edition would make either paper a mouthpiece.

    @ Iain

    “When current sabs struggle to write a blog entry on a regular basis for their own website, what is going to give them the time to write one for a campus paper”

    I don’t think asking one sabb to write a few hundred words every 6 weeks (the idea being it would be a different one each time) is too much to ask

    “Is Levene arguing that the blog system on the front page of YUSU’s website not the best way to comunicate information”

    That’s exactly what I’m arguing. I think the key to good communications is bringing YUSU to students rather than asking them to come to YUSU. Not many people read the website, but lots read Nouse and Vision (and rightly so). Why not accept that and do what’s best for students?

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  13. The only way I see a proposal to be workable David is if YUSU bought a full page advert in both papers and used that for the information page.

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  14. 3 Mar ’10 at 9:25 pm

    Voice of Reason

    @Chris Northwood. Good Idea, but they should also cut the overall budget for nouse and vision but the same amount, otherwise they’d just be paying for a few students to drink champagne.

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  15. Basically what Chris said, David.

    It’s unworkable because any editor that allowed you to have a page when you pleased would, I’m sure, be no-confidenced by the rest of their staff almost immediately and face the ensuing humiliation.

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  16. 3 Mar ’10 at 10:42 pm

    A voice of sense

    Lets be honest, when you compare Ngwena and Scott to Canning the year before, they weren’t great. No-one really knows what the president actually does. If they’d been more effective, there’d be no doubt.

    Freckleton has no clue what he needs to do for president. He has good soft skills admittedly, but so do the other candidates. Apart from Powell and Hansen they’ve been very successful organisers. But you need knowledge of who to talk to not just how to talk to them. It’s a two week handover and that can’t be enough.

    David’s page idea is good. YUSU is less likely to intervene in the rest of the paper if they get to tell their own story. If Nouse/Vision don’t like what they say, they have a whole paper to disagree in.

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  17. “But what worries me is Freckleton’s complete lack of experience of the complicated workings of YUSU”

    Before being elected do any of candidates have experience of YUSU? Being chair of a college may of course give a small amount of experience but from what I have seen, (as a friend of three of the past Derwent Chairs) this experience would aid them so minimally as YUSU president it is almost on a par with Freckleton’s “complete lack”. So are you saying Tim is the only sensible candidate and so future candidates MUST have worked within YUSU before being President?

    And also Freckelton had a “complete lack of experience” with the Entrepreneurs Society and yet led them to be the most successful within the country. What does that say about his potential in YUSU?

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  18. 3 Mar ’10 at 11:41 pm

    Martin (ex Vision ed)

    David,

    Sorry, but I’m afraid you are just wrong on this issue and I hope you will take this policy out of your campaign because it will lose you votes.

    You said “I don’t think this is an unreasonable request.” It is. When I was Vision editor I would never even have even considered handing over a page (or any amount of space for that matter) to YUSU for free.

    1. It contravenes the current Media Charter which states that it “aims not to dictate the views or opinions of officers,” and that the papers will at all times have “independent reporting”.

    2. It would undoubtedly ruin all chances of Vision and Nouse winning any national media awards in the future. If you look at almost any other paper with national award success they have vast budgets and are entirely editorially independent. We have neither of those things and it is already very damaging for competition chances. A “YUSU page” would make the situation so much worse. Judges don’t want to see papers just churning out YUSU propaganda. We’d be doomed.

    3. You should do your own publicity, rather than getting societies to do it for you for no profit. Everyone else has to do their own publicity. Just because students are not engaging with YUSU as much as you’d like, why should these two societies have to make sacrifices for you? Unlike YUSU officers, we don’t get paid (or even get Gold Cards) for our work, so shouldn’t we be allowed to just work on the things we want to do, rather than on what you want us to do?

    4. As I’m sure you are aware, Nouse and Vision are severely underfunded and for YUSU to expect advertising space for free is just taking the mick. We would normally get around £500 for a full page advert, by giving a page to you for free, we are effectively giving away that money every edition – £4,500 a year – which is nearly as much as our pathetically small YUSU grant.

    5. It is not as simple as “giving YUSU a page”. The page needs writing, designing, laying up, editing. It adds up to hours of work by Vision and Nouse members who joined the newspapers because they are interested in journalism, not because they want to promote YUSU. Who is actually going to do the work behind the pages. You can’t do it all yourselves, because they have to be designed on specific software and in specific styles.

    6. It will be impossible for you to pass this policy. It would have to be approved by Vision and Nouse, as well as the YUM committee. I’m 100% confident that they will never allow this to pass, and that is something you realise surely? There is absolutely no way it will ever come into effect.

    Martin

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  19. 3 Mar ’10 at 11:51 pm

    Martin (ex Vision ed)

    To add something a bit more constructive to my previous comment…

    I’m sure both papers would be more than happy to print a few more comment pieces from YUSU officers if more were submitted. These are dealt with in the same way that any article is dealt with – if they want to put it in, it will go in and it will go on the page they want it on, the size they want it, and the style they want it. If they don’t want to include it, it doesn’t get printed. At the moment, sabbs VERY rarely submit pieces. And actually, when they do, most of the time they are printed.

    In other words, I’m not saying that YUSU can’t utilise the papers more, but you have completely the wrong approach. You should work with the papers, rather than dictate what they should print. You should respect their editorial independence and acknowledge that the decision of whether to include something or not quite rightly lies with the papers and not YUSU.

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  20. I’m sorry Martin but it seems, from what I gather from your comments, that Nouse and Vision are more concerned about winning awards and impressing judges than actually providing a student service.

    I actually agree and think the Sabb page is a poor idea – but your award hungry attitude worries me that the editorial teams care more about impressing Alan Rusbridger and co., rather than being tailored to inform your audience – York students.

    Lee

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  21. 4 Mar ’10 at 1:19 am

    No to censorship

    @ David, Martin and Lee

    YUM is not YUSU propaganda. It is indeed owned by YUSU but the opinions expressed by YUM are not representative of the Union. The papers are ultimately answerable to YUSU but they should not be controlled by them. This severely breaches the independence of the press. It is neither awards hungry nor unreasonable to argue this.

    David, you should seriously reconsider this policy; indeed, it would be nice for Sabbs to offer more comment pieces – this shows an individual view in the paper, not a view expressed by the paper dictated by an individual Sabb. This suggestion speaks of a Presidential candidate who wants to curtail the independence of the press.

    Thoughts, David?

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  22. 4 Mar ’10 at 1:20 am

    Martin (ex Vision ed)

    Lee,

    The purpose of student newspapers is to entertain and inform students through journalism. It is not to give students updates on what YUSU are doing through propaganda. If you want to reliably inform people of something, you should always have more than one source. YUSU is only one source and so, in fact, by giving YUSU a page of their own, the papers would be failing to provide this service in the best possible way.

    The papers don’t want editorial independence simply to win awards. Of course not. They want it because it allows a much more transparent and honest service to students. It is this good service that is recognised at media awards. If you think that awards are what drive people in student media then you are just plain wrong.

    In other words, the papers don’t “care more about impressing Alan Rusbridger and co., rather than being tailored to inform your audience.” But, rather, winning awards is a good way of telling whether we ARE providing the best service.

    Indecently, national media awards are a huge asset to the University and one that YUSU and various University officials have shamefully overlooked recently.

    (Furthermore, I do not think that the papers exist merely to inform students. They are also here to give an educational experience for students interested in journalism and, like other societies, they also exist so that students can do something fun when they are at Univeristy.)

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  23. I didnt kniw frecks had led the Entrpeneurs society to being one of the best. He was a JOINT events manager and then got demoted to web – something – or- other….He was never in charge of the thing…so to say HE led it is bit of a swooping statemnt!?

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  24. in fact, i think that completely demeans the work of everyone else in the society who work hard to do well. And didn’t the student market fail??

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  25. Surely its a similar case of Hutchings and Powell saying they single handedly saved Alcuin’s bar and Halifax’s social life?
    And the student Market failing? The first was a success and the second only failed due to misinformation and underhand dealing from the current YUSU. Well that’s what was reported and passed around the grapevine.
    I don’t mean to come across as a massive pro-Freckelton as I am as yet undecided on who to vote for I just feel certain people are attempting to belittle Freckelton’s campaign for no real reason.

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  26. To be honest, from what I saw of Freckleton’s Facebook profile, whilst it was still publicly visible to non-friends on the York network, put me off voting for him. He claimed he wanted greater use of Web 2.0, yet when I searched for him on Twitter, could I find him? No. Do correct me if I’m wrong, but until then, I think it’s a sham to claim you want to use Web 2.0 technologies if you don’t fully embrace them.

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  27. 4 Mar ’10 at 2:20 pm

    johannes fedon

    Yusu is a load of sheisse.

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  28. 4 Mar ’10 at 2:23 pm

    Robin Thomas

    I think Freck’s campaign regarding Web 2.0 is actually that the university should talk with students more interactively; web cast UGMs, text based info service etc. Something like the careers services use of a facebook account.

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  29. 4 Mar ’10 at 2:27 pm

    You have GOT to be kidding me!

    Just because he doesn’t post pointless tweets about what he had for breakfast and other stuff you don’t care about you won’t vote for Freckelton? Ridiculous.

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  30. It would appear that someone has a real personal problem with Frecks, all these articles have been hijacked with similar attacks on him. Just a thought, but maybe it should stay personal?

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  31. Point of information: BigBen I’ve never claimed that I single-handedly saved B.Henry’s infact, the campaign I helped to co-ordinate was a really good example of working with Tony Ward to help secure the moving of late-life learners to Alcuin and working with the committee and college to improve actual usage instead of focusing on ideological perspectives.

    I realise you were probably just making a semantic point about ‘sweeping statements’, but I just want to make it obvious that I don’t think for a second that I alone ‘saved’ B.Henry’s.

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  32. Ollie – too right…

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  33. 4 Mar ’10 at 3:46 pm

    a careful observer

    get your facts right ollie, this is straight off you own website;

    “My leadership of the successful Save BHenry’s campaign last year has given me a great amount of insight into the inner workings of Commercial Services”

    http://ollie4president.blogspot.com/

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  34. which posts are a personal attack on matthew?

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  35. 4 Mar ’10 at 3:59 pm

    not ex-senator

    a careful observer – too right…

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  36. 4 Mar ’10 at 4:33 pm

    Another ex-senator

    Excuse me, but, saying that someone has ‘lead’ or ‘coordinated’ a campaign (what OH is saying) is completely different from claiming that someone has ‘single-handedly’ done something.

    ”My leadership of the successful Save BHenry’s campaign last year” is not the same as ”I saved BHenry’s all on my own” so stop twisting his words.

    Good campaigns need leadership and there is nothing wrong with candidates citing campaign leadership experience. I doubt any of the current candidates doing this would openly ignore/dismiss the efforts of the many other people that helped made these campaigns successful. I know Ollie isn’t and wouldn’t.

    Be a bit more careful next time @ a careful observer

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  37. Is it too late to submit my nomination?

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  38. YES!! Can we nominate a good candidate please?

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  39. Rich – maybe we can run together, for…women’s officer?

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  40. POWELLE FOR PRES!

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  41. ex o’senator…

    good job with b-henry’s.

    save the bars!

    save the drink!

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