Meet The Presidential Candidates

The candidates answer a variety of questions

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What personal qualities make you in particular suitable for this position?
Ian Williamson: To quote a friend: "Bulldog persistence, serious gumption, and an unyielding devotion to the betterment of all things University related."
Archie Dallas: I am very approachable, dedicated and almost too enthusiastic. Perhaps it's arrogant of me, but I reckon I'm the sort of person that people can just come up and chat to if they have a problem.
Matt Woodhams: I am hard working, reliable and honest. I also enjoy meeting new people, especially those from backgrounds (and colleges) different to my own.
Aaron Broxham: I'm normally pretty calm, so I won't let the massive work load and responsibility get on top of me.
I'm pretty fun too so I think I'll be able to get a good relationship going with students and presidents (or senior men), and maybe even the university.
When I get stuck into something I really go for it 9001% so you know I'll be dedicated.
Also I'm quite experienced, I've been involved in the DSU since my first term back in 2009 and I'm so keen for the DSU.
Klute, Studio, Loveshack or Academy?
IW: Klute everytime.
AD: Would I be alienating a huge proportion of the Durham public if I said Klute? There's something about a Glee medley and a lack of running water that really appeals to me.
MW: Definitely the Old (Real) Klute – I miss watching the rugby highlights repeatedly whilst fighting my way to the bar.
AB: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday!
With Durham’s collegiate system it seems that it’s harder for students to engage with their Union than at other universities. Indeed, voter turnout is sometimes quite low for student politics in Durham. How, if at all, would you try and encourage more student engagement?
IW: I'd connect the DSU better with the colleges, and really make it Durham Students' Union, by not simply parachuting in solutions from non-collegiate universities; we're not the same. That way the DSU would spend a lot more time supporting the JCRs, MCRs, the GCR and the SRC, which are actually connected to the student body and really pushing the issues that matter to students forward.
That said I'd also like to see the return of events to the DSU, to actually get students into the building. There is no venue like it in Durham, and if we can keep prices down, then we can offer something that no other club in town can, and get back the large student nights which Durham so sorely misses.
AD: I reckon that it just needs to be easier to get involved. At the moment it's fairly impenetrable when people start talking in some sort of political code that just makes it difficult to stay awake, let alone interested.
The other thing is that we can tend to be quite inward looking. However, the issues that we deal with are (from bar prices to tuition fees) are really important and the students need to pay attention. Durham students, myself included, can often be guilty of just burying their heads in the sand and hoping that everything will be alright in the end; I would make sure that we present these issues in an informative and engaging way so that it's actually accessible to students. We can do this quite easily through maintaining a presence across student media platforms. Luckily, I did English and so have a beautiful turn of phrase.
MW: By making the DSU engage with students rather than sitting back and wondering why students aren't engaging. The DSU should be going out and speaking to students in college bars, meal times, JCR meetings, the library… In fact wherever there are students to be listened to. You shouldn't have to go out of your way to make your voice heard, the DSU should make it easy for you.
AB: I think the union needs to get better at showing students how to wield the power they have, then they actually might use it and get involved in the DSU. I'm the Senior DSU Rep for Chad's and we had the highest percentage turn out of any college in the last referendum, my secret? Setting up a polling station in the dining hall and putting up a sign insisting that the free maoams with every vote were not a bribe.
President Andrew Johnson was known to beat those that disagreed with him with a stick, what approach would you take to conflict resolution?
IW: One of my favourite films is The Godfather, if you see what I mean…
AD: Physical violence is so unsubtle. A blend of misplaced sarcasm and apparently sincere complements seems to keep people on their toes.
MW: Conflict resolution should be done over a pint, or failing that over a meal. This ensures that everyone is relaxed – things are therefore less likely to get heated and no sticks are needed!
AB: Sticks are so 1865, my normal tactic is to insist they check their facts and they soon find I'm right, If they still don't listen just get everyone else on your side and it probably won't matter. If you are talking about the university then I will be nice when they are giving out the money but also tell them where the line is and remind them what happens if they cross it. As my housemate last year learnt, if you hog the oven then you better expect Tabasco in your rice pudding.
It came to light at the last University ‘Question Time’ that more money was being specifically set aside for the DSU. What would you want to do with this money?
IW: Talking to students in Queen's Campus, you realise that the DSU does pretty much nothing down there, when one in eight students are based there. I don't think you can justify that, and will therefore be working towards a permanent DSU presence on the campus.
AD: Part of me wants to say that I would turn Dunelm House into an enormous paintball match but I suspect that I would get into trouble. In reality, the money should go on whatever the students want. The building will be incredible regardless of what I promise; we just need to make sure that students' get their opinions across to the architect. Personally, I'm gunning for 34 player Mario Kart.
MW: We need to renovate the DSU and make it more student-friendly. The DSU building is currently an eyesore that everyone walks past. By putting on the right facilities and events, that students want, we can make better use of the building and enhance your time in Durham
AB: I think some of that went towards covering our deficit since it's nice not to be bankrupt. I'd like to spend the money on projects to get students more involved and also help societies get even better at what they do. I think with societies and students help we could use some of it to set up new financially viable events at Dunelm House.
If, heaven forfend, you were to have to resign from the position, would it be more likely because of a Clinton style ‘stained dress’ or a bit of Nixonesque political espionage?
AD: I'd like to think that if I did have to end the job early it would be because of assassination, but perhaps that's just because I'm a bit of a drama queen. Think of a shorter, less important JFK (but with a slightly less pushy family).
MW: The most likely reason for me having to resign is because I will be open and honest about the university and how it is failing students. I can envisage the university not being very happy with this, and trying to find ways to force me to resign.
AB: LOL! Resign? Grin and bare it! Everyone loves a cheeky bit of corruption and adding -gate after words, so probably a Nixonesque scandal. 
Finally, if you were only able to enact one manifesto pledge, what would it be?
IW: It'd have to be making the DSU work for the colleges, by giving college presidents more power in the organisation. I think that if we did that, most other things would follow.
AD: Well I only have one pledge: I'll make the Union actually useful so I suppose it should probably be that.
MW: Getting a direct bus between Durham City and Queens Campus. The X1 is a poor and unreliable service. The uni can easily afford to cover the cost from the significant operational surplus that Durham makes every year, and it will make a massive difference to those who commute between the two sites. The university just needs to stop finding excuses and do something about it.
AB: Probably to get more people using the DSU, it's kind of its basic function so it would be nice to actually achieve that. The student union is weak (and things like 38 week lets get forced on us) because no one gets involved, so it's the most important thing this year to make sure they do.


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