Word of Joe Batten’s flash-mob streaked across campus over the weekend: the video has received over 6,000 YouTube views at the time of writing and Joe has become synonymous with the AU President Candidacy as a result.
But whilst his name may be familiar to most of you by now, how many of us actually know Joe? Have we heard the specific details of his policies and what he aims to achieve next year should he be elected?
The slim chances of an affirmative answer to either of those questions outlines the purpose of this article as an opportunity to familiarise ourselves with Joe before we vote.
Choosing between Brett Richmond and Joe Batten as your AU President is a difficult task; both are very strong candidates. But at The Drop we hope that our interviews with both Brett and will help make deciding between the two easier for you.
BS: Fancy telling the readers of The Drop a bit about yourself, Joe?
JB: Of course! I’m 21, 3rd year at Exeter, studying Human Bioscience and living at the bottom of Vic Street. Loving it.
BS: And I’m sure many of us know that you are EULC Captain. How have you found that this year?
JB: Yeah it’s been good. I’m Co-Captain with Liv Hardy, which has gone really well. The boys are doing brilliant. They’re undefeated. And the girls are also doing great. They just beat Loughborough, which is amazing! The boys are through to the BUCS Semi-Finals after beating Sheffield Hallam as well so, yeah, it’s all going well.
BS: Do you think the skills you’ve learned this year being EULC Co-Captain are transferrable to those that you would have to use as AU President?
JB: I would say do. With lacrosse you kind of oversee a twenty-four people strong committee, which has helped my team management. We do quite a lot in terms of coaching in schools and a lot of charity work too, which, to an extent, is what the AU do on a much larger scale so I would say not only are the skills are transferrable but also elements of the work we (EULC) do too.
BS: Good answer. Moving on, I’ve noticed you mentioning in your campaign video how there’s going to be a new sports park. Could you give a bit more information?
JB: Yeah! Over the summer they’re going to cover up the six outdoor tennis courts. They’ve going to cover them up with a marquee-like structure, which will free up a lot of space in the sports hall.
BS: And you said that means more intramural?
JB: Yes,and it also means more training time because you’ve obviously got a lot more courts that won’t be affected by the weather. At the moment they freeze up a lot.
BS: Will using the courts cost more to use, though, as a result?
JB: Well there’s also the (small astro-turf) football pitch. That’s going to be moving to the other side (of the sports park) and then there’s going to be by 2013 a big two-story gym. Upstairs there will be a gym and downstairs will be used for classes, which will be just next to the tennis centre.
BS: So this is a very much exciting time to be AU President?
JB: Yeah, a very exciting time!
BS: And what do you think are the chances of you fulfilling your campaign promises: more treadmills, more yoga, more intramural?
JB: Well I’ve tried to be very realistic with my promises. After being AU Exec. Treasurer this year, I have got a good feel of how the AU works and the budgets you have and also where the AU fits in with the sports park managers, high performance, intramural. There’s always a lot of stuff happening and everything cannot be done at once. So what I’ve done with my campaign is take input from other people on campus and use what they want because that’s what the AU President should do. They represent the people and voice his peoples’ opinions. If there is something that the students really wanted, I would really push for it to happen.
BS: I didn’t realise you were AU Exec. Treasurer. I presume you feel that would help you if you became AU President?
JB: Yeah it has, because you help with all the one-off events like the varsities and you get involved and see the how things are organised. You are also effectively an AU ambassador in clubs. All five of us get given (sports) clubs that can come to us if they didn’t want to talk to Beth (AU President) directly and just chat to us instead. I've been to loads of committee meetings as a result and I already consult with a lot of club captains, which isn’t so different from some aspects of the AU President’s job and I would say I’ve already had an insight into how everything works and how to make things happen.
BS: Your mention of varsities takes me onto my next question: what varsities for which clubs in particular do you intend to increase?
JB: Well we’ve got the four ones at the moment: football, rugby union, hockey and cricket. Obviously those four are fantastic. I really hope we can increase the student participation in the hockey varsity because the talent is just unbelievable. In terms of more varsities for more clubs, I think it’s just giving clubs that chance of a varsity experience. I think one great way of doing that is through what we are doing this year in March is a big varsity weekend, which Beth (Hampson) has been working really hard on with the equivalent of the AU President for Team Bath. There will be loads of clubs going over and loads of spectators. It’s going to have different events going on at different places so all the people not playing can go and watch other sports and so everyone gets that varsity experience. I would want to build on the back of that, learn from the first year of it happening and try to make it even bigger and get even more clubs involved.
BS: That does indeed sound fantastic. Putting you on the spot slightly, could you sum up your campaign in three words?
JB: Oh God. (He pauses for a few moments) I would say: fun, honest and determined.
BS: Good stuff. I’ve heard that you’re a bit of a good dancer. Is that the reason why you wanted to do a flash-mob?
JB: (He laughs) I was on the Dance Society Committee last year and I wanted to do a big flash-mob then to secure a sponsorship deal where we would wear a company’s t-shirts during the flash-mob. It was all going ahead but then it fell apart at the last moment but I still kept that desire to do one and I think it’s a great time to do one at uni. because everyone loves that type of thing. So I just thought it was one way of getting people involved and I got EULC and Dance Society to do the flash-mob with me, which was great. Getting both EULC and Dance Society was also a good way of bringing together Guild Societies and the AU clubs. I’m a believer in the AU President being a representative of sport across the university and not just AU clubs. You should be pushing sport across the university. Obviously you concentrate and help push the performance and all the members getting a lot out of being a part of the AU but you also make it open to everyone.
BS: Do you think, then, that there is a distance between the Guild and the AU?
JB: Not so much a distance.
BS: But you think it can get closer?
JB: It can get closer. Definitely. I wouldn’t say it’s a huge divide as there people in both camps. I just think that the events could be publicised in different ways so you can go through societies to help publicise events more easily. I’d like a better means of passing information other than constantly having to email club captains to pass information on, for instance.
BS: That’s a fair point. On another note, Joe, we’ve now got a few more personal questions for you. Ready?
JB: Let’s do it.
BS: I’m going straight in to the deep end: where’s the worst place you’ve ever chundered?
JB: My uncle’s wedding.
BS: Oh yeah? What’s the story behind that? A few too many free glasses of champagne? Free bar perhaps?
JB: A few too many, yeah. A few too many sangria actually in front of a lot of people I’ve never met before in a garden.
BS: That’s brilliant. Next one: have you ever been chucked out of a club?
JB: Chucked out of a club? Not that I remember.
BS: The fact that you don’t remember might be significant.
JB: No I generally just have a good time. I don’t tend to get into too much trouble. I just try to have fun really.
BS: Top attitude to have. Have you ever crashed a party?
JB: Yeah. Probably. We all have! I used to crash quite a lot of student parties when I was at school.
BS: Does that mean as AU President you’ll be crashing fresher parties?
JB: No. (He laughs) I’ll have to leave those days behind as fun as they were.
BS: What’s your bolt like?
JB: My bolt? Bolt: okay. Strawpedos: fairly okay. Fairly good.
BS: Long arm?
JB: Not so much. Definitely not in the winter months. And it depends what we’re doing. Cider black: big no no! I’ve done baked beans too. That was a bad shout.
BS: I can imagine! A monosyllabic answer to these next questions now please. Arse or boobs?
BS: Blonde or brunette?
BS: Wednesday or Friday TP?
JB: Always Wednesday!
BS: And finally: The Drop or Exeposé?
JB: Controversial one. I like Exeposé because I like reading it and doing the crosswords but The Drop is very new and exciting. Does the answer have to be monosyllabic?
BS: ‘Both’ is a monosyllabic answer.