Meet the candidates running for Education in the LUU exec elections

Voting closes tomorrow at 4pm

Jessica Mifsud-Bonnici, MA Social and Cultural History 

How are you feeling about the election?

In a word. Nervous. I’ve barely slept in a week! However, it is a great experience! I’ve met so many people who I would have otherwise never have known and have got to learn so much about how the union runs and about big topics around campus!

What’s the biggest change you want to make?

Just one? Well if I had to focus on one it would to make the university and union spaces healthier. Like I don’t know about you but after pulling 8 hour slogs in the library during exam periods I feel exhausted and starving! This is more important considering that Hidden Café has been closed all year and apart from balcony, which you couldn’t really work in anyway because of the incessant drilling and banging, there is nowhere for students to eat. I want to re-purpose library spaces to create eat zones and to lobby the libraries to install SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamps to combat those January blues.

What makes you different to any of the other candidates?

Well, it’s a bit obvious… but I am the only female running. Other than that, I feel like I’m one of the few who have fully immersed themselves in union life, genuinely having loved my time at Leeds. I spend most of my life in the Union hopping between Essentials (where I used to work), Old bar- where I fuel my habit and Fruity where I make a complete arse out of myself!

Why should people vote for you?

I think I’m a candidate that offers the best of both worlds, I’m up for a laugh and don’t really mind making a tit of myself. At the same time I’m hardworking, clued in and genuinely passionate about the issues in our educational system… I also smash the pub quiz every week and am queen of the arts and literature round. Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your policies? I’m all about representation and student empowerment. Like, if you’re paying £9000 a year you should be having the best possible experience! This includes making your degree affordable, making opening hours uniform across all libraries and continuing to push for a representational curriculum!

Jack Bozsen, 3rd Year History

How are you feeling about the election?

At the moment? There are so many emotions, excited, tired, happy, worried. The endless days of poster making, banner painting and policy explanations have taken their toll but I am excited for the week ahead. It’s a great feeling being able to go and speak to people about why I should be the person to represent their education at this University, and besides, everyone is smiley and happy to chat!

What’s the biggest change you want to make?

The biggest physical change I want to make if I become your next Education Officer is digitising the module feedback system. This will give students a prompt to give module feedback in their own time, giving them the opportunity to fully reflect on a modules content and delivery.

Crucially, feedback from students, and tutor responses, will be made publicly available for anyone considering taking that module in the future. This will give students a greater chance to pick modules that they are likely to enjoy, and means that consistent issues can be flagged up to the relevant departments and student reps to be resolved. Likewise, the practice of popular modules can be implemented elsewhere.

I am so passionate about the potential benefits that modernising feedback could provide to students, staff, teaching and the way we think about assessment.

What makes you different to any of the other candidates?

I believe what makes me different from other candidates is how involved I’ve been in student-led change since I got to Leeds two and a half years ago. I’ve been a course rep for 2 years in History and I’m School Rep this year, as well as being Treasurer on HistSoc last year. I really believe in the ability of student’s driving change, it shouldn’t be case any longer of you being told ‘this is how you are going to learn this subject’. You know how you learn best and this needs to be listened to. If assessment isn’t working for you, if feedback isn’t working for you, if you feel you’re putting too much effort into a project for too little reward I will ensure that you know how to initiate the change you want to see.

Why should people vote for you?

Well, I might not be very good at making videos, or painting, or other arts and crafty stuff, but I know the Union/Uni process for change and I know my manifesto points are realistic and accomplishable. The prospect of having the chance to continue what I’ve already been doing in History as School Rep, but on a University wide level to improve students’ education is something that I find so exciting and I’d be so passionate to do. Essentially, I want the role because I want to make a positive difference to people’s experience at this University.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your policies?

One thing, at the moment few people know that the University Library is undergoing over £800,000 worth of cuts, affecting staffing hours, opening hours and resources. I promise to work to stop further cuts and also to standardise and extend opening hours for all University libraries to ensure no matter student’s age or degree they have fair access.

Dru Lawson, 4th Year Pharmacology 

How are you feeling about the election?

Err… the less said, the better? I think in all the years I’ve been at Leeds there have always been one or two outstanding candidates in each category who it was clear were most likely to win. This year, for most of the categories – in particular activities & education – I think it’s really difficult to predict what will happen, because the candidate pool is so even. It’s a really open race.

What’s the biggest change you want to make?

I think it’s important that the exec recognise the limits of their ability to represent groups of which they are not a part. Over the four years I’ve been in Leeds, 83.3% of exec officers have come from just two of our eight faculties, with none coming from a science/engineering background. I don’t *think* any have been part time or mature students either – and this list isn’t exhaustive. I’d really like to make an effort to engage directly with students from different backgrounds/faculties etc, to find out how best I can work for them, rather than relying solely on activity, school or community reps.

What makes you different to any of the other candidates?

I’d like to think the way I’ve run my campaign has been different. I’ve actively tried to be open and appeal to different groups – that’s why I had my manifesto translated into 18 languages! I’ve also felt that too often the Leadership Race gets in people’s way – I didn’t wanna do that so I haven’t done lecture shout outs, door knocking in halls etc, as I want people to engage with me/my campaign because they want to – not because they’re a captive audience with no other choice.

Why should people vote to you?

Because they think I’m the best – why else would you vote for anyone?!

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your policies?

I hope that my policies speak for themselves – I put a fair bit of time into thinking of them and tweaking them. As for me, I think leadership and by extension being a good exec officer is as much about what you stand for as it is about who you are. I’ve tried to conduct my campaign to illustrate that, but should probably also add I’ve a fair bit of experience for the role, whether that comes from three years on the committee of one of our largest departmental societies or winning employee of the year for the entire company (of about 50,000 people) in my part time job. I work hard and I try to make a difference.

Zaki, Kaf Al-Ghazal, MA International Law

 How are you feeling about the election?

Nervous but also quite excited. I’ve been looking forward to run and I’m getting things ready for a few weeks so it’s great to finally mobilise students and get them to vote!

What’s the biggest change you want to make?

I want to push for mental health support for personal tutors. The personal tutor system is a great idea but it isn’t utilised enough and tutors are crucial to the educational experience for students at the University of Leeds and they should be able to offer pastoral as well as academic support.

What makes you different to any of the other candidates?

I feel I am the most experienced in representing students having been a school rep twice – both undergraduate and postgraduate. That means I know how to represent them and will do a better job defending their interests within the union and university.

Why should people vote for you?

My manifesto points are strong and I sat with various groups of students early on to ensure that they were representative of what students actually wanted. I have the experience to represent students and I’ve been at the University of Leeds for 4 years; I’ve seen how campus and the university has changed and I want to continue that change in a positive direction being someone who has seen the past.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your policies?

I want students to know that all my policies have been fact checked and are considered realistic and achievable. The policies like 24 hour libraries and cutting hidden course costs will be funded by the extra revenue the university is bringing in via the unfortunate rise of fees for undergraduates due to TEF and the increase in fees for international students too sadly.

 Umair Saeed Chaudhary, Msc Management

How are you feeling about the election?
Overwhelming, but fun at times. I feel like candidates need extra support apart from their mentors.

What’s the biggest change you want to make?

We currently pay 9k and even more for International students; the university needs to make sure we get the value for what we pay. We need a diverse curriculum, to boost our cultural intelligence and prepare us for the job later. Additionally, this value can be delivered by small changes such as No hidden costs, emergency printing credits and exam survival guide.

What makes you different to any of the other candidates?

Though other candidates have been course/school reps in the past, I have excelled in the roles as I won the “most determined school rep award” and also “Dean’s Impact award”. Additionally, I am Leeds Ambassador and played a crucial part when prospect students make university choices, this made me familiar with the university and what policies they have regarding education. Lastly, I ran for this election last year, which makes me different from others and I feel we need to increase student awareness regarding leadership and what impact they can have. Currently, this is quite limited. We need ambassadors and reps to take on this role, which as an officer I plan to do.

Why should people vote for you?

I have been in Leeds for 5 years, I did Foundation, Bachelors and now Masters. Throughout my time I have been course/school rep and actively engaged in the forums and school reviews, to get better understanding of our university policies structure. Personally, I feel I am quite responsive and have that skill to negotiate with the committees for the policies I am standing for. It’s no fun if people are just talk, I get things done.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your policies?

My policies are derived by talking to students: British, international, from background and those with disabilities. My policies promise small changes that will have big impact and overall make university life enjoyable. Also, it is crucial to build on Melz’s work to make our curriculum more diverse and also bridge the BME attainment gap.

 

Thomas Cairnes, 2nd Year Computer Science Studies

How are you feeling about the election?

I’m feeling good about the election, I have a lot of contact hours and have been trying to keep up with both, which means I don’t feel as visible but I hope people who take the time to read my manifesto will understand my points.

What’s the biggest change you want to make?

The biggest change I want to make is to push for greater interaction between schools in an academic sense, I suppose improving the accessibility of the libraries is pretty big as well.

What makes you different to any of the other candidates?

What makes me different to other candidates is my experience as e&dofficer in lgbt society, having been through welfare and e&d training I can see a lot of places that those things can fit into schools to improve how comfortable students feel in their studies and to allow people to focus on studies without the worry that they are not understood our that they may not be able to get help when thing’s get rough.

Why should people vote for you?

I think people should vote for me because I want to focus my time on improving the experience for them as students, things like mental health and accessibility are giants aids to your learning. Pushing for more interaction between schools also gives you a lot of experience interacting in groups of mixed disciplines and I also feel that growing your academic network is a great part of your university experience.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your policies?

I would only want people to know that my policies come from my experience as an academic rep and from my work as an e&d officer. I feel that things such as welfare and e&d can fit into education and schools. Especially in schools like mine (Computing) where the large number of contact hours can be very draining and often are a big factor in why people will drop out.

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