It’s time to get to know your Scouse Guild President
We talked to him about the NUS, chavs and his favourite pizza topping
When Sean Turner took over from Harry Anderson as Guild President this year, many worried the legend of Hazza A would love boots too big to fill for the dashing young Turner. After the Medigate scandal of 2015/2016, the atmosphere on campus towards the Guild was strained for some (Medics) and largely non-committal for the rest of the student body.
Since most students have no idea who the Guild President is or what he actually does, we sat down with him for a drink (or 7) to chat about life as Guild President.
What’s the role of Guild president?
“The Guild President wears many hats. The most important role is to be the lead representative of the 23,000 students at Liverpool, so representation takes several forms. With the three other officers, I sit on about 50 different committees at the University. We can sit on committees that decide on so many different things. So, for example the accommodation committee have been deciding whether the mirror needs to go on the back of the door or on the wall – that kind of detail.
“I sit on a committee leading on education, and I’m deciding what the 2026 education strategy will look like. There is a complete range in the variance of committees but the point is that we sit there to represent the student voice – that’s the main role.
“The second role is trustees of the charity – the guild has an income of over 3 million pound a year and the president is the chair of the board of trustees.
“I’m also the lead delegate for the NUS for students in Liverpool. The other thing I do is I sit on the university council. Janet Beer is answerable only the university council. She’s only representable to students through me, sitting on the university council.”
Day to day, what do you do?
“It differs but for October my diary was pretty much set from the start. It got set in August. On a normal day, I come in and I have meetings all day everyday at the minute – they’re either internal meetings but mostly they’re university meetings. For the past few weeks I’ve had no practical time whatsoever, but I’ve started blocking time out and soon I’ve got some time to make banners with the other presidents for the national demo in London on the 9th November with the NUS.
“Busy as fuck basically.”
As Guild President what are your aims?
“To see RAG flourish because we’re one of the biggest uni’s in the country. We’re Russell Group and the others just put us to shame in terms of charity work. There’s no co-ordination in the charity work we do at this university. I want to make RAG a brand that students can identify with.
“My second thing is Officer Accountability onus. I want students to know what officers do and know what we’re up to. People just don’t have a clue what officers do.”
What subject did you do at university?
“Mathematical Physics – I’ve done three years of four. I’ll be going back to do my masters year.”
What halls were you?
“I lived at home in first year, on Lark Lane.”
Were you a loner, then?
“No, I had friends in halls – at both Carnatic and Greenbank and I had a bike. I was bike boy.”
What would you change about Liverpool University?
“Tories. [Laughs] No, I’m joking – I don’t really know how to phrase it but the community sense, like the identity of being a Liverpool university student, especially the Guild. People don’t identify as being members of the Guild. It’s a charity that offers students free independent confidentiality services whenever they like, whatever they like. We can give financial support, we have bars with discounts, we have 250 societies – there are so many facilities here available to be used – why wouldn’t you associated as a member of the Guild?
“I’d like a wider awareness of what the Guild does, and can do for students. For example, lecture capture. As of September next year, every faculty has to demonstrate that they’ve got some lecture capture. All classes in rooms that have more than 30 people in them will have to have lecture capture.
“We do a lot for students that they don’t know about. Last year the university wanted to implement a system called ‘Fit to Sit’, meaning that if you turned up to your exam, then you couldn’t have mitigating circumstances. So if you turned up to an exam and had a panic attack, you wouldn’t have been able to get mitigating circumstances because you had turned up – you were fit enough to sit it. And the Guild objected to that but it was never publicised.
“Do we send an email to students saying ‘hey we solved this problem for you’? How do we let people know we’re fighting for them on a daily basis?”
Favourite pizza topping?
“I’d go for a meat feast or a veggie – Nothing inbetween. My three top toppings would be: chicken, sausage and peppers.”
How do you feel about Chavs and Fags?
“OK, this is such a politically sensitive topic. So, firstly I should say that I come from a working class background in Liverpool but I don’t think I would ever identify as what is dictated by the media as being a chav.
“Chav and working class aren’t synonymous – I have this problem: if someone turned up to a fresher’s event next year and they wore huge eyelashes and bangle earrings and juicy velour tracksuit and training shoes and they had their hair bleached blonde and whatever else is ‘chav-tastic’ in the Daily Mail and they were dressing like that because they were brought up to dress like that and all their friends at home dress like that. Now say they were an excellent netballer and they showed up at the netball social and the netball social they went to is one taking the piss out of the fashion and linguistics of their background – you couldn’t imagine the pain they’d go through. That’s my hang-up – initially I was like why not dress up like a chav, but then I started to feel empathy for that student. I don’t object because I dread to make synonymous chav and working class but I recognise that the right wing press has enforced that assumption on all of us.
“Chav socials, Liv Uni netball team: ultimately I don’t care.”
We found an issue with the description: ‘k-ciders and wide set vaginas, teenage pregnancy etc’… they incorporated rollers and #scousebrows into their theme – as a scouser, what’s your reaction?
“Firstly, I want to make clear I’m not a woman.
“If it wasn’t Liverpool, it would be ‘that’s racist etc.’ but I don’t think there’s a problem – no scousers I know would have a problem.
“Scousers, on the whole, don’t give a shit about what people think of them. The best thing about Liverpool is it’s identified to belong to a chav culture, a working class culture, a thieving culture, and a robbing culture and horrible, disingenuous people – that’s the best thing. Why? Because the people who look at Liverpool and see it in that light are the people who Liverpool don’t want here. It’s the least snobby place in the country because it repels snobs. That’s what gives Liverpool it’s character.”
Would you be proud to be labelled as the Scouse President then?
“Yes, I’d be very proud.”
Why is lectures streaming still not happening? English and History still don’t have it.
“My biggest problem being an officer is that you don’t get shit down quickly. It’s going to be 4 years from when Harry started that this policy will come in. From September this year, every school has to prove they’ve attempted to use it in some way. Opposition to lecture capture came largely from the humanities and social sciences. As of next September, every teaching space that can accommodate more than 30 people will have to lecture capture their teaching – they can oppose it but they’ll have to make a written statement to summit saying why.”
We recently wrote an article about the state of the campus – fees are going up and the university campus isn’t. What are your thoughts on that?
“So, there’s an estate strategy – and a lot of that is focused around the idea that students should identify with being at Liverpool University. When you talk about getting money’s worth, that’s a dreadfully politically incentivised question. It’s not your money, you’re never really spending it and you’re never going to pay it back.”
What would you say to people thinking about applying to do your job next year?
“Do it. Just DO IT. Like Shia LeBouf. My job is the best job imaginable.”
What advice for running would you give?
“Have accountable, measurable and reliable policies. And also talk to people.”
What are your views on the NUS?
“It’s fucked isn’t it? Malia just doesn’t bother me – the whole she just didn’t clarify her statements. She apologised for people being offended at her statements, but she didn’t apologise for making them in the first place. She just made some politically suicidal statements.”
What’s your fave type of chocolate?