Election Special: Meet The (Other) Candidates

The who’s who and what’s what of the elections this year


International Students Officer

Yash Mishra

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

Although I’m a mere first year student, I’m a UCLU Faculty Representative, UCLU Hall Representative, UCL Union Council member, and a member of the Joint Student-Staff Committee. This means that I now possess not only an understanding of an international student’s needs, but also the experience and network to fulfill them.

2. What are your three main plans?

i.         Assimilate: To help international students make a smooth transition and become an integral part of their new communities by creating more social events and more accessible, closely-knit online and real network.

ii.         Campaign: To lobby and rally against uncapped fees, fee hikes, unreasonable visa procedures, NHS charges, and any other injustice that may pray on an international student.

iii.         Afford: To create more job and scholarship opportunities for international students, so that they can financially support their education.

3. What concrete change do you think you can achieve over the year if you were to be elected?

The underlying cause behind almost everything I’ll do as the International Students’ Officer is to make petty things like political boundaries and financial circumstances meaningless in our daunting journeys towards our dreams. Now, I may not be able to achieve all that in a year, but making each and every student feel like they are where they belong is where it will start.

4. Why should people vote?

We make up society and society makes us who we are. Voting for the right candidates is the least anyone can do to shape the community around them.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

My favourite aspects of UCL are its diversity and its acceptance of it. Even its motto means, ‘Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward’.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Throughout my life, I’ve learnt 7 different languages, lived in 6 different cities and even on a ship for 3 years! By the age of 18, I’d written articles for national newspapers, as well as a medical journal.

 

Rahul Mane

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

I understand that I’m never going to get to know everyone personally but everyone has ideas and I will get them to raise their voice. I have some concrete plans, but I know that I don’t know everything: especially since international students are quite underrepresented in UCLU student government, an international officer can’t go a whole year without getting to know the students they represent and how to get them involved.

2. What are your three main plans?

So how do we get international students involved, then? Publicity! A lot of the involvement issues with not only student government but UCLU societies in general is that home students are more familiar and more comfortable with this culture – and might already know about some of the societies here when they arrive! So I’m going to tell my fellow internationals that UCLU IS the place for us – and UCLU societies ARE for us as well!

Second, campaigns: double or higher fees is too much for any student to pay. Expecting all international students to pay it is ridiculous. AND UK government wants to charge us for the NHS when in reality international students are only 0.03% of their cost burden.

And third: social events! Again this is part of engagement – how do you get a student involved? Make them a part of UCL’s social culture. I’ll make sure that gets done.

3. What concrete change do you think you can achieve over the year if you were to be elected?

First – the International Students’ Orientation Programme will be HUGE. And will also contain a detailed list of (1) events of the first months of the year and (2) all the details of how to follow the International Students’ Forum on social media, as well as many UCLU societies, especially the cultural ones (e.g. ISOC, Hindu Soc, there’s a diverse selection).

Then, I’ll make sure the culture of our university is made much more comfortable for international students, so that people from abroad feel encouraged to try out things like Musical Theatre or Hiking and Walking.

4. Why should people vote?

Get your voice into the union! Vote for somebody who’ll not only make next year better but set a precedent for UCL to be friendlier to every year’s freshers from abroad, from here on forward. And most importantly, vote for all the other positions as well!

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

Personally, the Debating Society. I never knew how much I’d love debating until I started doing it, and now I spend hours a week at it.

The amazing thing about Debating Society is that some of the best debaters in that group are international: a clear demonstration of how someone who isn’t from the UK can still display prowess in a UK-style debate. But there aren’t that many international students in the society as a whole. Why is that? There were some other societies I tried in the society-taster-fortnight of first term that had almost no international students in them. There’s a culture of home students dominating the home field, and nobody’s been consistently urging us international students to take our part. I see potential for both UCL Debating Society and all of UCLU if I get elected.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I figure skate! I just started last September and it’s so much fun, I love it. (I’ve even gotten to that point where I feel more comfortable on ice than in shoes. Heheh)

RUMS Officer

Layth Hanbali

 

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

I’m a person – none of my opponents can legitimately claim that (because I’m uncontested…) But in all seriousness, the experience I’ve built up over the years, as RUMS VP and Medsin President this year, Union Chair last year, Friends of Palestine President the year before that, and in various other activities, makes me really understand how to do a good job.

2. What are your three main plans?

Reform RUMS, from little things like improving the website and communication about what RUMS actually is, to mind-numbing bureaucratic stuff. Protect RUMS’ independence, particularly for sports teams. Give RUMS a voice beyond UCL.

3. What concrete change do you think you can change over the year if you were to be elected?

The “Reform RUMS” part is the change I would want to focus on – RUMS should represent medical students’ interests, and that’s been lost a bit recently. The role of the RUMS Executive needs reworking and clarifying. And if, like this year, we commit to firmly representing student voice to the medical school, we can carry on having our views heard and ideas implemented.

4. Why should people vote?

Making sure someone good gets a position can genuinely make a positive difference to student experience. It’s not worth wasting that chance.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

The diversity of it! I know all 5 thousand other candidates in this election are going to say something similar but it really is remarkable.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Last summer, I performed at the Royal Albert Hall during the BBC Proms season. That was really cool!

 

SSEES Officer

 

Nikita Bourdelle

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

I feel that I am best suited for this role as I am already on the committee this year and because I am willing to spend time for the position, as I have been very involved in the departmental life this year

2. What are your three main plans?

My three main plans are to keep or even extend the budget, have even more events next year and involve the student body in the committee’s decision-making process.

3. What concrete change do you think you can change over the year if you were to be elected?

I could get people within the department to get to know each other better, as I feel that there is not much of a communal spirit at SSEES.

4. Why should people vote?

People should vote because their vote will determine the social activities of the coming year, as I intend to give them a say in it.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

My favourite thing about UCL is its diversity and vibrant societal life.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I was born in Denmark, and I can’t speak a word of Danish (only spent two weeks there).

 

 

Activities Officer

 

Vicky Chan

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

You don’t have to know me well to know that I love to sink myself neck-deep in UCLU-related committees/panels/activities/events. Those who know me a little better know that I spend maybe a little too much time thinking and talking about UCLU issues, from Varsity preparation and publicity to Film Soc funding.

This is because I care about student involvement and I care about a better student experience at UCL.

2. What are your three main plans?

My three main plans are to increase student representation and power within the Union (especially for the Arts in the fight to save the Garage Theatre Workshop), secure more space for Clubs & Societies (it’s ridiculous how so many activities and events have to be put on hold because of Birkbeck evening classes or people not using their room bookings), and to fight for the efficiency of UCLU (who needs all that paperwork – save the trees and let students do what we want to do in what little time we have!).

3. What concrete change do you think you can achieve over the year if you were to be elected?

I think the most concrete change in my year as Activities Officer if elected will be better student representation. This is a matter of expanding the Activities Network elections beyond a one-night-only event to a format similar to the Autumn and Spring Elections – campaigns, hustings and online voting. This will ensure better turnout (I understand that this year, election nights clashed with big society events) and that the people elected will actually represent students involved in arts, general interest societies, sports and volunteering. It will also be a matter of forming committees that will actually function for the growth of Clubs & Societies, for example an inter-Arts Network to improve Arts representation in the Union.

4. Why should people vote?

Everyone should vote and everyone should care about student politics because we’re all students, and at the end of the day, the quality of our Union officers will determine the quality of our student experience. It is important to get everyone you know to vote for the people who represent your views, so that you can have the student experience at UCL that you deserve.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

Unsurprisingly, and I apologize for the cringingly cheesiness of this, my favourite thing about UCL are the Clubs & Societies. I’ve learnt so much by being part of Women’s Rugby, about myself and about key life skills (all the CV gems: communication, team work, organization etc. And that is why I want to be Activities Officer. I want to push for improved student involvement and I want everyone involved to derive nothing but enjoyment from their club/society.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I broke my right ring finger playing rugby before Christmas. A&E taped it to my middle finger with two flimsy bits of tape and told me to rest it for 4 weeks. I did as I was told (but played against King’s a few days after it broke – it was King’s so I rest my case). But the bone healed weirdly so now my right ring finger is 3mm shorter than before, looks like a deformed potato, and I can no longer straighten the distal joint. Next time you see me around, ask, and I’ll gladly show you.

 

Halls And Accommodation

David Dahlborn

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

Clearly, I’m the #1 Rhythm-and-Blues Halls and Accommodation Representative candidate – which, frankly, is pretty awesome. That said, I’d never go so far as to claim that I’m the best person ever for this role, I’m just not that full of myself. But I’d like to give it my best shot.

 2. What are your three main plans?

To help establish local social committees in halls of residencies.

To support campaigns by staff in halls demanding better pay and better terms and conditions (UCL cleaners currently work for low wages and with only a bare minimum of statuary sick pay, holidays and pensions) – rights that should be a given for everybody, but sadly isn’t – not even at UCL.

To first of all get elected by running a fun Blues Brothers themed election campaign that involves loudspeakers and lots of karaoke, but also a serious political platform intended to make UCL halls an even better place for students and workers.

3. What concrete change do you think you can change over the year if you were to be elected?

I feel confident that I can help set up social committees in UCL halls of residence – something that will empower people to wield more organisational power over the local communities where they live. Beyond that I also want to help student tenants know their rights so that they can demand lower rent, more transparency from the university and more direct and democratic student influence into the way the university is run.

4. Why should people vote?

Democracy on campus is incredibly important. That’s to make sure that we student can influence our environment and workplace so that we don’t, for instance, get exploited, oppressed or mistreated. Also, by voting people can elect me – which is great.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

Right now, it’s that I’m running a Blues Brothers elections campaign on campus (it’s really exciting!).

In general, though, one thing I really love is all the fantastic people that I get to meet daily on campus.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Currently, I am dogmatically convinced that The Blues Brothers is not just an epic movie, but one of the best films ever made. Period. It’s fantastic.

 

LGBT+

Tom Robinson

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1. Why do you think you are best for this role?

I have a year’s experience in the role and have spent that year learning how best to meet the needs of LGBT+ UCL students. I also have extensive experience with trans activism, LGBQ activism and disabled activism. I plan to use this experience to continue building a space on campus for all LGBT+ students which takes their individual identities and struggles into account.

2. What are your three main plans?

To collaborate with other officers and liberation campaign representatives to create a Welcome Fortnight programme which has something to offer to all students, including those who find alcohol-based events alienating or inaccessible.

To improve the LGBT+ accessibility of Bloomsbury Fitness, which is currently very difficult for many trans students to use.

To offer more events relating to identities and experiences that intersect with being LGBT+, including women, BME, disabled and international students and students of faith.

3. What concrete change do you think you can change over the year if you were to be elected?

Create a weekly confidential face-to-face drop-in session for any LGBT+ UCL student, so that people struggling with issues related to their sexuality and/or gender identity have access to a quick and informal source of help.

4. Why should people vote?

UCLU has the resources, financial and otherwise, to make a huge difference to students’ time at UCL – but without their engagement in its democratic processes, its representatives won’t be expected to do so or held accountable if they don’t.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

Its close proximity and ties to a wide range of LGBT+ venues, charities and other organisations.

6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

When I was small, I spent about six months insisting on calling my dad Wallace and would answer to no name except for Gromit. My love of dogs persists as an adult.

 

The London Tab contacted all candidates, and these were the ones who got back to us. Check your Facebook messages, people!