SU Officer election interviews: Round 2

Meet the Equality and Union Affairs candidates

Voting for the 2017-18 Bristol Student Union officers opens 9am Tuesday 14th March. You can vote online here, with polls closing at 9pm Thursday 16th March.

In this, the second of three articles, we showcase the candidates who deigned to be interviewed by The Tab Bristol.

You can see the first group of candidates in our earlier article here.

Below are all the candidates for the positions of Equality, Liberation and Access Officer and Union Affairs Officer.

Equality, Liberation and Access Officer

Des Ibekwe

Q: How will you make Bristol a more accessible university?

A: I have a kind of policy of pro-activity and visibility. I think it is important for liberation identities- LGBT students, BME students and disabled students- to have policies that not only protect them, but also have a space within the union where they can come together to boost morale and increase their presence within the university. I think that goes towards shattering the image of Bristol as solely rich, male and pale.

Q: What steps will you take to rectify the BME attainment gap?

A: Most BME issues go back to morale and if you have students who feel like they are catered for, we can start to work on these issues. I think one massive part of my platform is focus groups. It’s all well and good to see the statistics- on average BME students achieve lower grades than their white counterparts- but setting up means of effective discourse is important. I want to listen to the students rather than assume what they need.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

A: Lucky Dube, he’s a great guy.

Rowena Salmon- ELA officer

Q: How will you make Bristol a more accessible university?

A: I think that one of the main things about coming to Bristol is that it is such a privileged university. To me, making it more accessible means making it a more liberated space where students feel welcomed and empowered and I would work with the Widening Participation Officer specifically on access schemes as well.

Q: What steps will you take to rectify the BME attainment gap?

A: Being white, I think it’s really important that if I were elected ELA Officer all steps that need to be taken should be led by the BME network chairs and I would work with them to implement recommendations from the current research taken into the BME student experience.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

A: Stanford is a fun guy, I would date him.

Gee Soothill- ELA Officer

Q: How will you make Bristol a more accessible university?

A: I would support people with health problems and disabilities by challenging the uni where it fails to provide adequate support. I would arrange consultations with marginalised students, using the student networks and societies who represent them. I would use those findings to inform training and resourcing for student facing staff to make the university inclusive and do everything I can to fight for a more free and decolonised education.

Q: What steps will you take to rectify the BME attainment gap?

A: This year there was a BME attainment gap report led by current SU officers and I would ensure that the recommendations of that report are followed through using advice from the BME part time officer. In addition my improvements to the support for people with health problems including the counselling service would help remove some barriers to education which disproportionately affect BME people.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

A: Probably Vala Biggart who is running for LGBT+ officer. She’s awesome and she shares my love of dog memes.

Nic Chedgey- ELA Officer

Q: How will you make Bristol a more accessible university?

A: I’ll make it more accessible to everyone by petitioning the university to freeze accommodation fees because in the past 4 years the hall costs have doubled and as students we deserve to paying for upkeep, not for buying new buildings and renovating old ones. There’s been all the investment in welfare and mental health services but students have to go out and find that in their own time, I want to make that an inclusive party of university life.

Q: What steps will you take to rectify the BME attainment gap?

A: One of the points in my manifesto is to create a framework to help lecturers avoid inequality and culturally blind curriculums. If we can make material taught at Bristol more relevant to BME students- particularly international students- than that will go some way to rectifying the gap. However, we also need more in depth studies to find out all the root causes.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

A: Whichever of them is supporting me!

Sophia Ehimiaghe- ELA Officer

Q: How will you make Bristol a more accessible university?

A: One way is to understand social and cultural differences. I think the biggest issue in Bristol is that people are not aware of differences. They are quite unaware of personal differences that are informed by culture and home background and if we can bring to the surface these differences, it will make relationships between social and cultural groups better.

Q: What steps will you take to rectify the BME attainment gap?

A: It basically comes back to awareness. I am a BME student and I know both sides of the coin and it’s not that people don’t want to help, it’s just that they don’t know how to. If you think of a BME student going to the mental health support staff and they address them as though they were a home student, that is not taking into account their background. One of the biggest reasons why BME students don’t do well is psychological reasons, we have to know what these issues are to solve them.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

A: John House because my friends do a lot of sport and are very excited about all the work he has done.

Amy Finch- ELA

Q: How will you make Bristol a more accessible university?

A: My two priorities for making Bristol accessible is a) make Bristol more state school representative by appraising our state school policies and b) address the issues that might make BME students not want to be hear. I would achieve these priorities by doing focus students to hear from the students themselves.

Q: What steps will you take to rectify the BME attainment gap?

A: Bristol SU officers have just secured first-of-its-kind funding into the BME attainment gap and I’m really keen to see this implemented properly. I’m going to continue asking BME students their perspectives and the support they need to address this inequality.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

A: I think that Patrick guy (what’s his surname?) because I stalked him two minutes ago and his profile picture was with a lamb, which really won me over.

Union Affairs Officer

Stanford

Q: How can we best improve student satisfaction?

One of my flagship policies is establishing a union mental health service. Mental health is an area of immense dissatisfaction within the student body, in terms of what services are on offer, which I think this would go some way towards addressing.

Q: What campaigns would you support as UA officer?

Because union affairs officer is sort of “in charge of campaigns”, I will be backing those campaigns which are important to students. There are campaigns that successfully run year on year such as Reclaim the Night which I am very enthusiastic about but I am very excited to champion new ideas for students brought forward by students.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

It would be Hari just because he’s really smooth and he’s also one of the first candidates I met in the process so we’ve got the longevity element as well.

Patrick Thomas

Q: How can we best improve student satisfaction?

A key element of my campaign is about mental wellbeing and using the union as a resource to improve student well being through a support framework. I think this would massively improve student satisfaction alongside greater student led events at the SU.

Q: What campaigns would you support as UA officer?

The SU is a body to represent students. I’ve already said I would prioritise mental wellbeing so would support the ‘Mind Your Head’ campaign amongst others but to truly represent students I would open discussions to prioritise other campaigns which matter most to them. In 2017, students rightly have a lot to shout about and I would support this.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

So far, the other two Union Affairs candidates and myself have been getting along very well so I would be open to a platonic threesome.

Hari Sood

Q: How can we best improve student satisfaction?

In my opinion, student satisfaction is low because students don’t believe they can make the change they want to see. If we can increase engagement and belief in the SU as a serious organisation, it will become an accurate representation of the student voice. Student issues will therefore be taken seriously by both students and the university, meaning change can happen, issues can be resolved and satisfaction will go up.

Q: What campaigns would you support as UA officer?

If I represent all students, I don’t want to choose any particular campaigns to go into office and support. The campaigns I will support are those that are positive, have potential, better the student experience and empower the student population. Choosing campaigns to support before entering office is dangerous and undemocratic.

Q: If you could date one of the other candidates, who would it be?

James Moulder because he told me that he’d date me and I’d be too awkward to say no. Plus he knows Robbie Fox, so I’d be using him to get to Robbie. He’s a gateway to Robbie.

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