Meet the candidates running to be LUU Activities Officer

Hear them out

Here’s absolutely everything you need to know to make an informed democratic decision in the LUU elections for Activities Officer. Don’t let a good vote go to waste

Jess Bassett

How would you help students be happy and develop as people through your role as activities officer?

10,000 use Leeds University Union every day and I want to give something back to them! I want to create Union Loyalty cards where students will gain points for engagement in societies and other events in the union…and as we all know; points mean prizes. You could exchange them for a free fruity ticket, a ticket to a show or a classic Essential’s meal deal. I would also help them develop by creating a Sponsorship fair at the start of the year for societies to link up with corporate businesses, not just for funding but also employability opportunities for all their members.

What positives are there to bringing fresher programmes directly to the halls?

Realistically, in Freshers week a high proportion of students go out and get MORTAL. If you’re in Oxley, can you really drag yourself all the way to the Union for Freshers Fair? No. That’s why I want to bring freshers activities to halls so that all students can get involved and find the right society for them. Additionally, this will encourage more participation from students who may be too nervous or intimidated, it’s a few feet away from their bedroom and it’s so easy to get involved.

What are you going to do so that societies have suitable rooms for their needs?

At the start of the year I will ensure I sit down with every president to discuss their individual society needs and decide the rooms that are best suited to them. I’ll put a priority system in place to make sure that their needs are met, you can’t choreograph a tap dance on the carpeted floor of the Worsley.

Your motto is ’Say Yes to Geordie Jess’: How will you bring in your Geordie charm to your role?

Someone once told me that if you say something in a Geordie accent it automatically sounds friendly. I don’t know if everyone would agree but I do love talking to people and see myself as an approachable person with a little bit banter that I would bring to the role. If I was elected I would do things the old-fashioned Geordie way and create a weekly drop-in session where I would be able to solve a problem, face to face with no messing around. I’m a Union Girl with a Geordie Edge who would love to be your next Activities Officer.

Rianna Julian

How would you help students be happy and develop as people through your role as activities officer?

I think LUU’s societies and sports clubs are key to student’s happiness and the development of our own selves. This is why my own campaign and manifesto really focuses on awareness. I want everyone to know what is going on, where it’s going on and when it’s going on. This includes more training during ‘hand-overs’ on important issues and collaborations during training with liberation groups so that societies who don’t have a full grasp or understanding of these important issues are better equipped with being able to bring their platform to minority groups.

I want to be a friendly face on campus that any committee member, society member, or student can come and have a chat too. I know that I’ve developed from going to meet with mentors or my tutors, so I really want to push the knowledge that my door will always be open – think Justin Timberlake in Friends With Benefits. I’ll do this by having my contact details spread far and wide. For instance, I have been to so many GIAGs just to find what I truly loved doing, so I want GIAG booklets to be sent out to freshers before they arrive, or to international students in their own language. These booklets will also contain my e-mail/best contact details for those who need any support or guidance.

How effective will your app be in promoting events?

After coming under scrutiny from the current exec and members of the student body over how realistic an app would be in terms of finance, and current feedback from the trialled Lecture Check-In. I’ve decided to focus it more to a point on my posters around campus which states ‘website reform for clubs’. Students are often in a big social media bubble; the way I find out about events is usually through Facebook if someone else clicks ‘interested’… It’s always ‘interested’ and never ‘going’ because apparently we Millennials have commitment issues.

I want our LUU website to be easier to sift through, it’s a nightmare and literally hasn’t been updated since my first year – which in digital terms is the equivalent to dog years. We need functions that take you directly through to the Facebook Event pages, and we can also update our current app so that it recognises which Societies you’re currently a part of and sends push notifications to your phone when those societies create events, or when the tickets to larger scale Union events such as Varsity and Fruity are going on sale.

How will you create a more united union for joint honour students?

I’ve seen a push towards more collaborative socials between departmental societies over the past two years. I think this is a great opportunity for the Union to encourage. We’re in the midst of an amazing Union upgrade and could create some amazing socials within the Union for those who do joint honours. Feedback from a lot of my peers who study joint honours is that they feel the need to ‘pick a side’, why can’t they reap the benefits of both societies?

It would be interesting to see if a reduced membership for joint honours would be possible, i.e if you study History & English, being able to buy a membership that incorporates you in to both societies and then once a month (or every couple of months) have one of the parent schools host an event for those who study both subjects. That way you can build friendships across the societies and make socials and departmental sports fixtures friendlier.

Is the reference to ‘RiRi’ in your motto inspired by Rihanna? If so, will you invite Rihanna to sing in the SU if you are elected?

Whilst my whole life has been a plethora of Umbrella jokes, and people asking ‘What’s your name?’ just to see if they can catch me out. The ‘RiRi’ in my slogan extends itself to my one true love – UK Garage (I’m looking at you Craig David & Artful Dodger). Whilst innocently enjoying myself over one too many VK’s at Fruity, Artful Dodger’s ‘Re-wind’ came on. My friends call me Ri so they kept pointing at me when the chorus said ‘Re-Re wind, when the crowd say Bo Selecta’ and then the blue VK sunk deep in to my veins, gave my brain the power and strength to realise ‘Bo Selecta’ could be turned in to ‘Elect Her’ and thus, a legendary slogan was born.

Having said that if I am elected and either Rihanna, Craig David or Artful Dodger wish to perform at Fruity, then at least I’d have an inauguration more lit than Trump’s.

Ciaran Lennon

How would you help students be happy and develop as people through your role as activities officer?

If I was to be elected Activities officer I would ensure the committee induction program was improved upon, a move to adding pastoral care to the program. This addition would include such things as how to advise members on academic, personal and financial problems, either via direct advice or by pointing them in the direction of the most relevant university service. I feel committees having these skills would ensure that society members would have a better support network that would be made up of their peers. I also as stated in my manifesto would hope to develop a database connecting students with skills such as photography, graphic design etc. and to use this to connect them with societies to aid them with engagement, events and even merchandising. It seems like a mutually beneficial venture as the societies would have access to services and networks they may not necessarily have access to and the students would be able to improve and diversify their portfolios to help with their employability.

How are you going to cover a wider range of topics in the committee?

Covering a range of topics would be done hopefully with collaboration with different services the university has such as student advice, disabilities, Joblink etc. and liberation groups and coordinators such as LGBTQ+, BME etc. There would be a series of mandatory workshops that a member of all committees would attend prior to the academic year starting, which would address the matters I mentioned earlier. This year I have had a member of my society come out to me, I gave as much advice as I could but I feel I could have done a better job with more understanding coming directly from LGBTQ+ and I hope to achieve these collaborations working with the elected Equality and Diversity officer.

How will you improve communication between the union and the societies?

It seems the activities department at the union are overworked and don’t have the time to effectively communicate. The main problems that seem to be brought up time and again is the access to facilities and the access to finance. Starting with facilities: facility management at LUU is not great, there shouldn’t be situations like American football having to cancel their pre-season camp, only 3 days before it was meant to start due the facilities being hired out to external clients, the facilities are there to be used and enjoyed by University of Leeds students and they should be the priority. Another example of poor facility management happened more recently where RockSoc’s monthly club night, Cyanide, was cut short even though they had a very good attendance, especially being the last time Cyanide was ran they were told on getting to pyramid that there was no beer on tap, which should have been relayed to them by events staff ahead of time. Now on to finance: The common qualm with the communication regarding finances is not really knowing what societies are eligible for and once they receive funding what the funding can actually be used for, I would press for the Activities staff (or even just me) to directly email each society a list of funding opportunities they would have access to and what each form of funding would be able to be used for. Generally, the emails that are sent should have a priority rating system as whilst the weekly emails from Helena Goode are great and informative of what’s currently going on, they tend to be glossed over leading to missing crucial information. Putting priority on emails regarding funding, fresher’s fairs and committee workshops would help committees know what they definitely need to read (it’s not hard to click on the exclamation mark to state high priority, is it?).

How will your role in the ice hockey team assist you in the role of activities officer?

My role in Ice Hockey I think will be very useful to being successful in the role of activities officer. I have been the Secretary of Ice Hockey for two years and was the founding secretary, some might say ‘Ciaran why didn’t you become president when Josh the founding president graduated’ my answer to this question is I feel as secretary I can get much more done and strangely enjoy doing administrative work and attending meetings. Being a founder of a new society is very difficult the help given to founding committees seems minimal and I would want to improve this, I got practically no help with the documents needed to start a society and my friend and president of SkateSoc, Mohsan Lin didn’t either (well that’s not true I helped him with the paperwork). Through the action of myself and my fellow committee members we have double our membership in one year and have been able to support a second team, I would hope to use my experience and knowledge to help improve society recruitment by setting up a quiz, similar to the Leadership race dream team quiz, to help new and returning student see what societies may be what they are looking for, we have had people come to our GIAG for free ice skating and they have then found once picking up a stick and puck that they actually want to continue with us. In my role as secretary at the beginning of each year I tell our members and perspective new members that I am available to talk to them regarding any and all problems they may be having, as Activities Officer I would do the exact same, I would be their representative but I would also try to be their peer and friend also.

Harry McCagherty

How would you help students be happy and develop as people through your role as activities officer?

Firstly I would work to help students enjoy their time in societies through society benefits. All societies have socials with their members whether that is going for some lunch, watching your mate play a gig or watching your favourite team play. I want to make it easier and cheaper for members to get involved in these socials. I want to sit down and talk to each society individually and figure out what areas of the Union that you use most. Using this information, I will provide some form of discount in the Union tailed to your wants and needs. Secondly there are always a lot of issues in societies so I want students to have more than one way of communicating that back to LUU. I want to create focus groups of students so that I can hear the issues that you face and strive to resolve them as quickly as possible!

What are your plans for improving the online facilities so that societies are managed easier?

LUU are currently in development of a new website and with this come many opportunities. As part of my role of Performance Rep, I have been involved in discussions regarding a new room booking system that is being built for LUU. I want to use the launch of the website and the booking system to create a new platform so that you can manage your societies easier. On the new website I want a tab at the top call ‘Society Management’. Once logged in committees will be able to book rooms, message their society (and other societies), sell tickets, manage their finance and much more. This will hopefully cut down the amount of time that societies have to spend going into the Union to sort out finance, reduce the difficulty in booking a room and make it easier to get in contact with their and other societies.

How will your current role as the performance rep assist you in the role as activities officer?

As Performance Rep I have been able to be incredibly involved in LUU this year and I have a very firm understanding of the inner workings that go on. This has allowed me to put forward ideas on my manifesto that I not only want to get done, but also that I know are achievable! Being involved in the bi-weekly meetings with the Activities Officer have helped me to really understand specifically how the grants at LUU work which will help me greatly when looking at new funding opportunities. I also work in the Student Activities department from which I have learnt a huge amount about the issues that societies face on a daily basis, along with the best way to solve the issue or the best person for the society to talk to.

Would you ditch your braces if you became to activities officer?

I’m actually trying to bring braces back! They’re also less restricting for large meals (The Big Pig – Old Bar). #EmbracetheBrace

Talya Stitcher 

How would you help students be happy and develop as people through your role as activities officer?

I think personal development is (surprise, surprise) quite personal to the individual, so for students to grow will depend on how they want to do so. Obviously one community a lot of students grow within is LUU’s clubs and societies, and as Activities Officer it would be my responsibility to make sure these run as smoothly and successfully as possible so students can have a great experience. I want to make sure every society knows which funding pots are right for them so they can make successful applications for big funds; I want to get the committees onto a communal digital platform so it’s easier for them to collaborate to bring students exciting new opportunities to get involved; and I want to refine the welfare training (e.g. sexual misconduct training) for all committees so that students know they have someone to go to if they have any concerns. All of these things are vital for societies to make the most of their resources so that students can benefit both socially and in terms of gaining employable skills.

As you are aware of the difficulties that new societies face (after setting up at society abroad), what will you do to minimise the problems that growing societies face?

I will make sure that new and growing societies know I’ll have an open-door policy so they can come to me with questions or problems big and small. I know attracting members can be difficult for new societies so I want to rethink the arrangement of the Freshers Fairs a bit and guarantee new societies don’t get sidelined. I can facilitate contact with a long-standing society from their category, and we can have meetings to monitor progress and brainstorm how to reach more students. I’ll also ensure the Activities Team pays close attention to societies who have flagged that they are struggling or want any extra help. This ties in with the weekly drop-in session I want to set up for societies with myself and the Activities Team.

Why do you think it is important that events are available for every type of student, for example, the ‘sober spaces’?

All students deserve to be considered and represented by LUU because that is literally LUU’s collective responsibility as a students’ union. That means the Exec representing them and the staff working to help towards that goal need to think beyond the idea of ‘the average student’ when training the committees, creating resources, and planning events. Some students have children, some don’t drink alcohol (a third of students at Leeds, according to recent stats), and we all have a diverse range of interests. Bars and clubs in town are unlikely to cater to those outside the typical student demographic, so I really want to be the one to make a change at LUU! This is something I feel really strongly about because I really want everyone to have a great time here at Leeds, and LUU should be central to providing an unforgettable experience.

Will you ever bring your psychology knowledge into the role or activities officer?

I end up bringing knowledge from my degree into every part of my life, I can’t help it! I can’t read your mind to find out what you want from your uni experience, but I’m a good listener and have more than a basic understanding of mental health issues and the effects of stress, so I can use this to make sure I can include student welfare in my role.

Photograph credits:

https://www.luu.org.uk/leadluu/candidates/709/

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