AU Presidential Debate: Do We Have A Winner?

Kirsten Adams gives us the low-down on the AU presidential debate.

AU elections Exeter President


On Tuesday evening, the Long Lounge played host to what was anticipated to be the most heated candidate debate of the week. Brought together were the unusually low number of candidates running for AU President: Joe Batten and Brett Richmond. The duo endured a solid hour of grilling with neither failing to answer any question thrown at them.
The debate opened with the topic of the new £8.1 million sports park development. Batten confirmed that the development was definitely going ahead and divulged some of the rather unknown grand plans in place. Brett and Joe were in agreement that if voted into post, they would push to ensure the money was spent on what students wanted and would both try to push funding for St. Luke's: however both appreciated it was unlikely.
The debate then moved to the question regarding the price of sport at Exeter and most notably whether it was too expensive. Both candidates agreed that it was too pricey. It was here where Batten revealed that next year the basic £45 standard gym membership would be reduced to £15 for students joining an AU club, with this £15 being added onto their club membership paid at the squash. Batten added that given the universities imminent investment, this would be the best that could be done for the coming year.
With intra-mural featuring in both candidates’ manifestos, it was the next topic to be discussed. The question posed was whether intra-mural could be extended to more sports. Richmond answered that intra-mural participation should be increased through using the international society links to their optimum; with Batten adding that with intra-mural transferring from the sports parks care to the AU in 2008 was still growing and ironing out teething problems. Both also agreed that they would look to improve links between the guild and AU to try and increase intra-mural.
The debate closed with a 40 second closing statement from both candidates. Richmond finished with the strong statement that he loved sport at Exeter, had experienced it from several angles and was highly passionate about making Exeter the best for sport in the UK. Battens closing statement was slightly more fumbled ,but noted that having been involved in sport at Exeter from volunteering to being club captain he had the knowledge to make the most out of the role.
As to question who ‘won’ the debate it is a hard one to call. Richmond's closing statement blew the audience away with his enthusiasm however this sometimes left the audience feeling that the question asked had not really been answered. Batten displayed impeccable knowledge and understanding of the AU throughout. And after all…knowledge is power, and if there’s anything to be learned from Dragons Den it’s that great ideas aren’t necessarily everything, but knowledge of your market which really leads to success. Taking this into account, Batten's knowledge and enthusiasm wins this one for me. The structure of the SABB team creates an environment with very little continuity. With just 13 months to make the changes proposed and needed for the student population, candidates need to hit the ground running.
So have a gander at their manifestos, and make sure you vote for YOUR next AU president: