The Tab meets Cecile Borkhataria
We chatted to the RCSU Presidential Candidate about eurotrip, jackets, and Call of Duty
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you study and why do you want to be RCSU President.
I’m a third year Biologist and this year I have been RCSU Vice-President (Activities) as well as the felix fashion editor. Last year I was elected RCSU Academic Affairs Officer. I’m half French, half Indian but British by nationality and I grew up in Luxembourg, so I’m from a lot of places! I want to be the next RCSU president because I want to help improve upon the student experience and make Imperial a fun university to belong to. I care deeply about the RCSU and with my experience on the committee I feel that I can fulfill the role well and make it an unforgettable year in terms of offering up fun events as well as a wealth of career opportunities, and much more.
2. You mention experience as an Academic Affairs Officer, but we fail to entirely see what they do. Dep Reps are inherently independent and department-specific and the DPE’s job is presumably to coordinate these.
The Academic Affairs Officer (AAO) co-ordinates the Departmental Representatives and makes sure the different departments are sorting out their various issues by bringing them up at student staff committee meetings.
Where there are greater underlying issues that are interfering with student satisfaction, and cannot immediately be resolved by the departmental staff, the AAO can lobby to improve these on the various committees that he or she sits on, such as the Faculty of Natural Sciences committee. These are meetings where high up staff, often department heads, are present. In addition, the AAO works with the DPE to ensure that issues and concerns within departments are being resolved effectively. So a great feedback chain operates which allows for the most effective way to deal with student concerns.
Many students have told me that they are concerned with the level of exam feedback they are receiving, so as President, I would ensure that students obtain a better standard of exam feedback, starting off with a baseline minimum across all departments.
3. ‘Overseas tours’ are an ambitious one. Would first years sign up when their halls do these? And would it just be another RAG dash but without the hitchhiking or charity?
Many students and peers have expressed a great interest in my eurotrip plan that features in my campaign. As a hall senior, I regularly hear my hall friends raving about the fantastic times they had on their weekend abroad trip. Many of them have told me, however, that they would have liked to have gone with their friends from other departments (because if you don’t belong to the hall, your ticket is not subsidised and you have to pay a lot more to go on the trip.)
If the RCSU offered an affordable weekend abroad, students could travel with their friends from other courses. This kind of trip would also be a great way to enhance bonding and socialising between different departments represented by the RCSU.
4. ‘Unforgettable nights’ are another thing you mention. Outside of the RCSU Summer Ball, what else would you do?
The termly RCSU balls have a great reputation for being some of the best nights out at Imperial. I think that we can make them even more special by adding performing acts and other exciting aspects to them such as snacks and ice cream booths, and much more. I think it’s important for any student union to host a wide range of events that cater to all interests, and as President I would ensure that there would be something for everyone. Just some of the ideas are poker tournaments, tea parties (which were very popular this year), trips to London shows and musicals, gaming events and many more. After all, variety is the spice of life!
5. How would you integrate PR and Science Communication into Careers events if these are run by the Careers Service and not the RCSU? Would anyone come?
The careers service is a fantastic source of informative and useful career talks and workshops, however, people often tell me that they wish the service provided more opportunities outside of the banking and consultancy sectors. As president, I’d like for the RCSU to host a broad array of career events from different industries, that way we can cater to a wide range of interests. As Science students, we are multi-talented and possess many transferable skills that are useful in different careers areas, so we should be spoilt for choice. The world is our oyster!
6. Gaming events are already done by the gaming society. Would it not be better to work with them, and maybe even provide some funding than just running ones through the RCSU?
The idea was to collaborate with gaming soc as they’ve got consoles! The great thing about that is that it would involve RCSU students that aren’t members of or aware of gaming soc, but still enjoy a quick round of COD every now and then! An exciting prospect would be to hold inter faculty gaming tournaments.
7. Would you wear that god-awful RCSU jacket?
No, I wouldn’t. The jacket was funded with RCSU money, which should fund events and opportunities for students and enhance the student experience.
8. When in the Business School one can become somewhat disconnected from the rest of the Uni, in particular one’s faculty. Will this happen with you?
I’m a very sociable and friendly person and I know many people across different Science departments as well as the rest of College. As such, I’d always be in touch with what was happening across the different departments, so I don’t see the business school as an issue.
Scott Heath, the 2011-2012 Union president and 2010-2011 RCSU president, did a fantastic job all whilst being enrolled in the business school.
9. Why should we vote for you? Say in 140 characters or less.
I care about the student experience and am the only candidate with experience on the RCSU. If you want a year you’ll never forget, vote Cecile for RCSU president.
You can also watch her campaign video here