Which of these three policies would you prioritise: expanding the Heath Centre; or ensuring all text-books were free; or helping JCRCs provide better events?
Lydia Blundell: I would go with expanding the Health Centre because that is something the University isn’t prioritising at the moment because the other two are pretty much in the working already.
Tim Ellis: I think JCRC events really do need to be promoted and helped out as much as possible so I would probably go for the JCRC events as that’s something YUSU can help a lot.
Aaron Rolph: I would have to go for events, purely because that could generate revenue and become a self dependent supply. Other universities generate a lot of money from events and we comparatively generate a small amount and that is a market we could use.
Charlie Rowley: I think the primary concern for what we are going to push is on the academic side…text books is something a lot of students want. I think in terms of academic, that’s why people are here: to get a degree, so if they can have any resources available or possible, I would have to go with the text books.
If elected, how are you going to gauge that your policies are supported by students during your time in office?
LB: My whole campaign is based around ‘have it your way’ and ‘have your say’ and gaining student feedback. One of the key ways is to utilise staff members, YUSU have recently recruited a lot more. You either have the staff members take some of the Admin away from the Sabbs so they can go out to the students to get face-to-face feedback and simply to go and talk to students, because they aren’t going to come to you. You can create all these surveys and you can send messages, but if a student isn’t really that bothered they are not going to reply.
TE: I think the new set up next year after the Democratic Review will help this a lot. I am really keen that there is more communication with the JCRCs, I think that they are a fantastic point of call for getting thoughts on the ground and it is an institution that needs to be used more. I would want to push drop-in sessions….and make sure they are publicised and YUSU is an environment where people can come in. We want to create the atmosphere where people see your face and know who you are.
AR: Previously there has been very little monitoring….students don’t want a dry survey, I understand this. The biggest way is just to get yourself out there and make it a mobile Union, that would be a way to integrate the students into YUSU.
CR: I think that is all part of the campaigning, you have to consult students during the campaign and get them involved as you go along. You can’t have a blank piece of paper….Gone are the days where you expect people to come into YUSU if they have a problem, you have to go out to and see them, into colleges, have open-drop in sessions and meetings with college Charis, Vice-Chairs and Ents Officers. We really have to move to a system working from the bottom up.
What will you put your allocated Presidential budget on?
LB: I think one of the most important things is the campaigns, because none of the other Sabbs really focus on that. So with the National Demo last year I think that is the one of the key things the President should be involved with and leading.
TE: It’s not something I want to set out now, I don’t want to just arrive in office and say that money is going here, here and here. It’s not about the President being elected on a manifesto then doing that for the year, it’s about listening to people and knowing what the issues are. Whether next year we need to up campaigns in terms of pressure on the University in terms of tuition fees, that’s something I could put the budget on.
AR: I have yet to give the detailed budget off Tim. But my priorities if elected are to connect with students. YUSU needs someone to take it to the next level and really integrate it with students. That would be my main course of action.
CR: I think we have to look at what students want and consider all the other elected Officer’s policies…and easily budget it. Really it is for investing in resources when prices are going up, and I foresee fees going up to £9,000.
What do you see as the biggest implication of the Democratic Review to your tenure as President?
LB: It is all very wordy and you’ve had all the changes now. There is the Union Council changes that affects the big decisions and that affect students and it is getting students involved in those decisions and then relaying the information back to them.
TE: The dropping of Democracy and Services is a bit of an issue in terms of who is responsible for decisions made over the Summer Ball for example, but I think it is easily rectified. What I am really pushing for is more consultation. Not only Sabbaticals and Ents, but surveys on what people want.
AR: I think just getting the more lay students involved in decision making and making an impact there will be the most significant impact, which I am positive we can make happen. Also, there will be a larger integration of students in actually managing to make more of an impact rather than those in authority and the YUSU Officers themselves.
CR: Obviously the biggest one is the removal of the Democracy and Services Officer. The question that has come up is the question of elected officers or staff, and it’s a question you can’t win. If you are the President of the Union you have to make it known that you are the figurehead…your head is on the line. With the Sabbatical position that has been removed, we will see if that will have an impact on students.
Name one good thing and one bad thing that your predecessor, Tim Ngwena, did during his Presidency?
LB: The Union has moved on in leaps and bounds with the Democratic Review and Strategic Plans and Tim has just brought the Union forward. He promised in his manifesto that he wanted more time to go and talk to students and JCRC meetings, I don’t think that is necessarily his fault that he hasn’t done that though.
TE: He is very good on his branding and communication, I think that has been a fantastic thing. People know more about what YUSU is now, I think the website is looking great. As Goodricke Chair, often I didn’t know what was going on and I feel let down by YUSU a bit there.
AR: He was the first President to look towards the long term future [three year strategic plan] and he looked for a sustainable way to run the Union. He has spent so much time in the office and that he has not shown his face as much as I would have liked to have seen.
CR: We have got a clear structure now…Tim has got the Union back on track with all the structures in place. The Constitutional Review was set to a timetable to what YUSU set and I don’t think that was necessarily a good thing…there were a lot of College Chairs who didn’t have enough time to consider and have their input in it.