The Tab meets Ahmed Raja
We talked to the self-proclaimed Wolf of Imperial College. Few howls feature.
Hi Ahmed. Your campaign poster made a big impression. Why did you pick “The Wolf of your Union” as your tagline?
The whole idea is that he’s this very capable man – obviously he did some wrong things, but that’s not the point of the poster. When we came up with the idea it got 150 likes – people were associating me with Wolfy. It shows an ambitious guy. The question was “You’re a fresher – how can you actually prove yourself?” and I wanted to show something that counts. Jordan Belford (the wolf) was young and he proved himself. That’s what I wanted to show.
On the other hand, didn’t he do a lot of drugs, sleep with hookers and go to prison?
Yeah, yeah. I didn’t choose any of those for my picture. I chose a background showing people having fun and a successful man in the foreground.
So you don’t think people are going to associate you with any other parts?
If I was running for Treasurer, yes. But because I’m running for President I don’t think so.
Tell me your main manifesto points.
1. HD Live streaming for all students. Introduce Panopto (online lecture recording) to those departments that do not have that facility and to bring in a live streaming service for those departments that already have a lecture recording system in place.
2. Reinventing the social events organised by the union, not just for freshers but for all years and postgraduates .
3. Extensive exam feedback for all students that do not get a comprehensive report on their exam performance (whether final or formative)
4. Online discussion and petition platform to empower the students even more and to make sure that their voices are heard .
5.Cultural night theme for all societies to encourage societies to present their cultures and countries and to accommodate for non-drinkers within all those societies.
You’ve talked a lot about cultural nights. Can you explain what the boundaries are to students having international nights at the moment and what you would do to improve that?
My point was that the issue with people coming to a student experience in London in that they should mingle with every culture. Right now, you hardly find anyone who goes and explores other cultures. What I want to do is give people a weekly chance to stage what this society what to offer, and have a theme night.
So these would these nights be put on by the Union or the societies themselves?
The Union. The societies are already putting them on – I want the union to become involved.
At the moment, putting an event on in metric is reasonably easy. Why do you think that these nights haven’t happened naturally?
There is no incentive to do so. If you make an event you want a good turnout, but there’s no marketing, no selling of the idea. I want to provide the incentive to make people come.
So the Union and society would work together and between you you would advertise the event to get more people to come?
If you could pick a superpower what would you pick?
I think if I had a superpower I would make everything cheap for students. Extremely cheap or nearly free. I love free stuff and I want to make everyone happy.
Tell me about your experience.
In terms of the roles I’ve taken up in university, I’m the first year rep for PakSoc and Isoc (the Islamic society). I’m actually part of 39 societies. Not just clicking and paying, I’ve been to every single one at least once. I’m keen and an active part of the union.
I was president of the union in my sixth form college. We organised a lot of events, including a visit from the Mayor of London. It was a really diverse college and I got an understanding of lots of cultures.
[I ask him to name the 39 and he does. 17 are cultural societies, 7 are departmental societies and the rest are other types.]
[It recently came to light that part of the Hockey Society has an alter-ego known as GineSoc, which had a twitter feed used to send tweets such as “please can you suck my dick” to porn stars. Felix article here]
If you were President now how would you respond to the news about GineSoc?
Personally I don’t like this – I think it leads to a bit of vulgarity. The again it’s put forward by the students themselves, and you can’t really go against anything everything they say. I would sit them down and talk about what they actually did, because I don’t think it’s a mature thing to do. But I would find out what they really meant by this – it is just a publicity stunt or is there some reality behind it?
So are you saying it’s outside of your jurisdiction as Union President to tackle misogyny done in the name of a Union society?
No. As I said, my personal opinion cannot overrule what the people want. If they come up with a decent motion and have enough signatories for that, I would have to discuss it with the Sabbaticals.
But this isn’t a motion with signatories, it’s a twitter feed.
So again, it would have to go through a discussion with the Sabbaticals.
My promise of change begins today. I believe that together we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions so vote Ahmed for change.