Election Special: Meet The (Sabb) Candidates

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


Democracy and Communications

Hannah Sketchley

sketch

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

I’ve been involved in the Union since I got here, whether directly, by sitting on Council, or indirectly, through The Cheese Grater.  For better or worse for my social life, this means I’ve definitely got a solid knowledge of the inner workings of it, and my student media experience means you know I won’t try and censor our publications

2. What are your three main plans?

I want to create structures which allow student media to operate autonomously of the sabb suite & support grassroots publications & the involvement of more women, investigate job shares or payment for the larger part-time officer roles, ie LGBT+, and use General Meetings and the Communications part of the job to reinvigorate political energy on campus.

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

If you’re only after one…I really think that my plans for student media are acheivable, especially “the woman question.” I started a network for women in the media this year, which, with more time and working with liberation officers across London, could grow into something very exciting.

4. Why should people vote?

Whether you like it or not, you are going to come into contact with UCLU quite a lot during your time here. It makes sense to cast a vote and make it work the way you want.

5. What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

The open, warm and sunny attitude of UCL management to student-led campaigns, staff industrial action and an ethically-run university with a real focus on human rights both here, for example in East London, and with their investment abroad, for example, Quatar.

Actually, my favourite thing about UCL has been the opportunity to organise with other people who, quite rightly, think that the above is absolute bollocks and we ought to use our position as students to say why.

 6. What’s a fun fact about yourself?

Last year I spent a year working in a primary school on the outskirts of Berlin.  This mainly involved children dancing Gangnam Style at me.

 

Education & Campaigns

Pekka Piirainen

pekka

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I have the most experience and the best ideas. I’m more than familiar with how the union and the university work, making me a candidate that can actually deliver!

Summarize your three biggest plans.

– I want to triple funds for psychological services – at current demand far outstrips supply, with many who need help getting turned away at the door. This is unacceptable for a university that made an £18 million profit last year.

– I want to create a UCL Ethics Forum that links all the various campaigns at UCL, from divesting from fossil fuels to making sure that UCL does not buy blood minerals from the Congo and pays a fair wage to its staff. A common body of academics and students could really make a difference at UCL!

–  I’ll make sure student concerns get a proper hearing; Lecturecast for the masses, cheaper accommodation, no more outrageous exam timetables, better provision of bursaries and grants to make sure education is affordable for everyone!

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

I’ll make sure psychological services receives the funds to meet student needs, I’ll get the exam timetables out well in time, get lecturecast to every lecture and generally make sure students are listened to from accommodation needs to essay feedback! What is there that one can’t achieve with commitment?

  1. Why should people vote in these elections? Apathy only makes things worse – if you don’t say anything no one will hear you. There are important issues to be decided that should concern every student, from making sure that student health concerns are seen to, to seeing that UCL adheres to its values!
  2. What’s your favourite thing about UCL? A diverse community full of great fun-loving people! (Not to mention Sports Night …)
  3. What’s a fun fact about yourself? I’m a Finn with an Irish accent – or so I’m told! Remember to pick Pekka!

 

Timur Dautov

timur

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I aim to put the education-related issues which students are facing – such as cuts to education, tuition fees, burdens of debt and high living costs – into their right broader context. It is important not to treat these issues in isolation, and to explain that they are ultimately a result of the capitalist system, its inevitable tendency towards crisis, and of the consequent attempts to make the workers and youth pay for it. On this basis, a clear positive programme of action is to be worked out – something that is often missing from many education-related campaigns, but is also crucial to provide students with a sense of direction and perspective, and thus achieve higher levels of participation and better prospects of success.

Summarize your three biggest plans.

  • Build strong links and establish consistent cooperation between UCLU, workers and trade unions on campus, and the wider labour movement. Work to increase the level of unionisation of university workers.
  • Donate £11,612 from my sabbatical officer wage (£25,000) to the struggles of the campus workers and the wider labour movement.
  • Work to build a mass sustained campaign with students and UCL staff demanding the complete abolition of all fees and of student debt, affordable rents, and a minimum wage of £10/hour for all UCL and UCLU workers, on the basis of a socialist transformation of society.

 

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

As I already mentioned, I will aim to broaden the base of support and participation in the Union’s campaigns against cuts to education and for the abolition of tuition fees, by providing them with a definite set of demands, a clear strategy, and a socialist programme.

Why should people vote in these elections?

Because the student union can play a crucial role in defending the students’ interests, given genuine and mass participation on part of the student body, including voting as an important first step.

What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

The libraries, and the impressive range of books that they have to offer. The Russian-language collection at SSEES stands out in particular.

(n.b. no fun fact -from Hugh)

External Affairs & Campaigns

Omar Raii

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I think I’ve got the relevant experience in actively running and being part of campaigns on campus. I wouldn’t sit in the office all day sending emails but actually go out and work with students.

Summarize your three biggest plans.

Build a network of halls reps, organize private renters to seriously lobby UCL to decrease its absurdly high rents and improve living condition in the worst halls).

Organize a campaign of international students to fight against the government’s increasingly tough line against them, including opposing the Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament that will mean international students paying £200 to use the NHS.

Support workers struggles on campus (lecturers and other staff), because their working conditions affect our education.

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

One thing would be that I’d push for a full time LGBT+ and Disabled Students’ Officer to be part of the sabb team. It’s already union policy that all liberation groups are equal so if we have a Women’s officer and a BME students’ officer then it makes sense to have LGBT+ and Disabled representation too.

Why should people vote in these elections?

Because the whole point of a student union is to represent students collectively and fight their corner, so the people who do so on our behalf ought to be chosen democratically by us, the student.

What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

The number of people you get to meet from such diverse backgrounds; I’ve been lucky enough to meet people from all over the world with all sorts of different perspectives.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I run the Phineas Pub Quiz on Thursday nights to if you’re free from 8pm and fancy a challenge, come along!

 

Postgraduate Students’ Officer

Mariana Ceccotti

mariana

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I have been involved with Postgrad campaigns ever since I started studying at UCL, being elected Faculty Representative for the Social and Historical Sciences and Secretary & Communications Officer for the Postgrad Association (PGA). I have attended every forum meeting the PGA has held this year, and with that I have learned how it works, what areas need improvement; such as more engagement, what campaigns have been run and how to organize students efficiently.

 Summarize your three biggest plans.

Just three? Oh well… Firstly, I will continue the campaign that has started this year promoting fair pay for Teaching Assistants (TAs). Right now, TAs are rarely paid fairly for the work that they do. I will help departments organize within themselves, as has happened in the History of Art department this year, to ensure that all departments get better contracts and working conditions for TAs.

Secondly, I will campaign for improved learning conditions in UCL; especially better timetabling options for students. This issue has greatly affected me in my time at UCL. I messaged other students in other departments and found that it has affected a number of people negatively. I am currently arranging organizing meetings for this campaign, and if elected will ensure that progress is done to improve this.

Thirdly, I will fight for more funding for education. Both in form of fees and living costs. Living in London is extremely expensive and students should have adequate financial assistance whilst engaging in postgrad study.

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

I will achieve better conditions for Teaching Assistants, better learning conditions for students, more engagement with the Postgrad Association, more funding for education, cheaper nurseries and more access to mental health support. I am aware that one year as an officer is not long enough to change UCL completely. That is why it is important to carry on campaigns that are significantly improving Postgrad life. By being involved in the Postgrad Association this year I have seen that even though issues have not been completely solved, significant progress has been made, and will continue to be happen if I am elected your next Postgrad Officer.

 

Why should people vote in these elections?

People around the world have died for their right to vote. It is important to keep striving for better conditions, and voting for a candidate who has proven to have the dedication, experience and resilience to achieve these is a crucial first step.

 

What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

How many opportunities there are for engaging with campaigns and issues directly affecting students. During welcome week there was a lot of emphasis on the Union and how students could get involved, which allowed me to join the Postgrad Association so early on and run for Secretary and Communications Officer as well as Faculty Representative: roles that have shaped my experience at UCL and made it a very positive one.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

As well as being a dedicated campaigner, I really enjoy trying out new things and having different experiences. This year we’ve had various different events in the Postgrad Association, including ice skating, cocktail making, bowling tournaments, bike rides, amongst many others, and I want to expand this calendar even more to ensure that we really have a big diverse range of events.

 

Welfare and International Officer

Matt Deaves

Matt Deaves

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I’m a campaigner and I’ve been involved in the union for many years. I know how the union works, I know what we need to do and, most importantly, I know how we win. So Believe in Deaves!

Summarize your three biggest plans.

-I want to bring rents down at UCL halls. Some new students this year arrived at UCL to find their rooms had no access to daylight and were leaking, and yet paid through the nose for that privilege. I want to put an end to that and set up a campaign to bring our rents down, and our hall conditions up.

-International students are such an important part of our university community and yet UCL views them as cash cows first, students second. I want to stop this by working with the UCL International Students Campaign to bring down international fees, not rise them yearly. As well as nationally, with the NUS, fight the Immigration Bill which will have a hugely negative impact on international students.

-Improve our mental health. Waiting times to get help with student psychological services is currently averaging at 8 weeks. That’s not on, and I want to fight for a significant increase in funding. The money’s there, and at the moment it goes to the Provost and his management team rather than into better provision and more staff for Student Psychological Services, so let’s change that.

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

I’ll make Welcome Fair actually welcoming. It’s the centre piece of Freshers’ week and yet the way it is run excludes so many students unnecessarily. It’s crowded and it’s loud and it’s not a welcoming environment to enter into. I’d like to change how it’s organized but one way of doing that is to introduce an additional “e-Welcome Fair” which would be up for longer and allow people to view the material of each club, who their President is, and allow them to sign up to their mailing list.

Why should people vote in these elections?

I’ll have to go for the cliché, it’s because they matter. When you have a gripe with your department, or with your landlord, or with the way you’ve been treated on campus, then the union is the one that can really help, so we need to ensure we vote so that it’s a strong voice for us all.

What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

It’s the thing that UCL forgets about a lot of the time; us. Students are the life and soul of this university and we should be given a much more active role within it as well as being listened to and asked about what we want. If UCL did that more often then we wouldn’t need to be fighting to save the Garage Theatre or our Health Centre right now.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

On my Year Abroad I had a Fanta with the President of Iceland at his house.

 

Leah Francis

 

leah francis

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I think I am best for this role because I am the only candidate with student welfare experience. I have been working to improve student welfare since my first year at UCL and it is because of this hands on experience that I am passionate to make changes to improve student life at the university.

Summarize your three biggest plans.

I want to improve access to mental health support through improvement of the psychological services, provision of extra support to go alongside this, and clarification of the levels of existing support

I want to ease the transition from home to university in London life

I want to encourage earlier friendships and better integration between home and international students, through a pals program more integration events – cross-cultural friendships have been linked to improved outcomes

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

I can improve mental health support and integration between international and home students

Why should people vote in these elections?

People should vote as it is really important that the union is representative of changes that the majority of students want to see. The typically low turn-out means that we are only seeing the views of a minority.

What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

I like that it is full of lots of different and interesting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I am half Polish and half Jamaican!

 

Shafeeq Shajahan

shaf

 Why do you think you are best for this role?

Having been involved in representative student government for many years, growing up in Malaysia and attending an international school, I have a unique perspective on managing the expectations of necessarily diverse groups of people and the empathy that make me well suited for this role.

 Summarize your three biggest plans.

  • Union Support.There is simply not enough access to mental, physical and financial help services at the union. Our welfare system needs to be reevaluated and revitalised.
  • I’d like to see more aggressive, visible and effective campaigns that promote diversity and end discrimination.
  • Finally, I will actively fight against rising accommodation, student fee and general student costs. Education should not cost a fortune.

 

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

I believe there is a significant lack of interaction between international students and local students at UCL. Because of UCLU Activities and Events, I believe that I am a good example of a well assimilated international student.

Thus, I want to create a better social environment that is conducive to cultural exchange with a more visible platform at UCLU for international students to feel integrated, forcing them to not be obliged to interact with people they are comfortable with.

 

 Why should people vote in these elections?

Many people disparage democracy at UCLU because they claim there’s a significant lack of interest in student politics. As students and as members of the union, we have a responsibility to invest interest in the things that surround us. Especially regarding the welfare of our student body.

 What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

Where do I start? The people because I have met the most amazing, special individuals here who have changed my life. Student activities because I have harnessed skills and found new talents I never knew I had. But, the best thing about UCL is that it has given me the opportunity to emancipate and liberate myself and many others. It’s a wonderful feeling.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I sing, act and try to dance. I am starting to fall in love with house music.

 

Women’s Officer

Annie Tidbury

Annie tidbury

Why do you think you are best for this role?

I’ve been a member of the Women’s Network for the past four years; I know what it does well and what it needs to improve on. If elected, I’ll also be accountable to women students – I’ll keep a blog so that you know what I’m doing whilst in office and my door will always be open.

Summarize your three biggest plans.

Firstly I think we need to make some changes to the Women’s Network. Rather than the Women’s Officer deciding what will be discussed at the forum, agendas need to be finalized online so that everyone can contribute. It also needs to be more decentralized – students (especially those who define into other liberation groups) should be given the support and resources to run their own campaigns and events under the banner of the Women’s Network.

Secondly, I want to extend the Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment Campaign. Training for society presidents should include how to combat sexism in clubs and societies. The Union also needs to offer help and advice for students who are experiencing stalking.

Thirdly, I want to work with Student Academic Representatives (StARs) to ensure that they are properly trained to advise and support students who are facing sexism in their departments. No student should be harassed or belittled whilst trying to study.

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

I can make the Women’s Network bigger and stronger than ever: more student-led campaigns, more events and more opportunities for women students to actually talk to their Women’s Officer.

Why should people vote in these elections?

Because UCLU has such a massive impact on your time at UCL. The societies you join, the events you attend, the campaigns you get involved in, the facilities you use… To put it frankly, you don’t want shit officers running those things.

What’s your favourite thing about UCL?

The fact that there’s always something going on – in four years, I don’t think I’ve ever been bored.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

I did Jailbreak in 2011 and hitch-hiked all the way to Marseille.

 

 

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