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‘Students should be angry over strikes. Don’t direct that at striking staff’: An interview with Anna Crump Raiswell

She’s running to be your Education Officer

Against the backdrop of another NSS boycott and lecturer strikes that are making national news headlines, the post of Education Officer at this year's SU elections is arguably one of the most important.

There are just four candidates for the role this year, which has made for clear focus on their varying policies, not to mention a debate where passions ran high.

Candidate Anna Crump Raiswell sat down to speak to us about her policies for education, her views on the strikes, and how she would aim to widen participation and accessibility.

How are you finding the campaign?

It’s been good actually! At first, I was a little bit worried about it and apprehensive, but I think it’s been going well. I’ve had good responses from the people I’ve spoken, but it’s hard to tell how it’s going. I’m feeling quite positive about it.

What inspired you to run for this position?

Since I came to uni I always thought I’d love to do that and it’s amazing to finish your degree and then represent the students of your university. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but I do genuinely really care and I thought I’d be quite good at the job.

You’re very passionate about outreach work. How would extending these schemes, as you plan to do, benefit students?

For me, some of the best experiences I’ve had in university have been outside of the student bubble, and they’ve benefited me massively. So that kind of manifesto point was to say our uni is really amazing at outreach and everyone should try and get involved with it, because it does really benefit you and it can make you a really well-rounded person.

Even if you’re not interested in teaching…I wasn’t, but I thought it was a really good experience and I want other students to have the same experiences.

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How would you support students who have gone through trauma or difficulties?

I had to do an extra year at college, and because they were so accommodating to me I was able to get the grades for a Russell Group uni. It is a difficult one – my main point with it is telling every new student what their department's policy is with extenuating circumstances.

I would also want personal tutors to be more confident in offering support, so more training for departments and personal tutors with regards to that.

The officer debate was a fiery one, and you spoke out when Amber said she'd replace the women's minibus with a free bus for more students…

I am a feminist and gender equality is a really big thing for me, so I’m really glad I could defend it.

Officers aren’t islands, they’re there to work as a team. Whoever gets elected as women’s officer, I would really hope they continue the women’s minibus as it’s a really good scheme at the university, and if elected I would definitely work with them.

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In the space of a one year term, which steps would you take to get more women into STEM?

It is tricky but I’ve been in contact with a lot of the STEM departments already, asking what they’ve been doing and how they think it can be improved.

I know the engineering and computer science department have a 'wall of women' – role models who are student, staff and alumni and that really helps.

For me, in a one year term, I’d hope to combine the policy with a widening participation policy. In terms of current students I want to engage them and give STEM women confidence to go for the top internships and jobs.

Why are you supporting the NSS boycott? And where do you stand on the strikes?

I’m supporting the NSS boycott because I feel like the NSS is part of that whole agenda of students as consumers, which I’m completely against. Although it’s no longer linked to TEF, it doesn’t mean it won’t change.

The SU are officially supporting the NSS boycott, but it’s not their main priority, and I’m with them on that. My main political priority at the moment is supporting the strikes, but it’s important to understand that they are linked and part of a wider agenda.

I am a full supporter of the strikes and I was on the picket line yesterday, but I understand lots of people are very angry about it. Especially in your final year you could be missing four weeks of uni.

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Staff have tried to negotiate, and students should be angry, but direct that at the Vice Chancellor and those in the uni pay rather than staff who could lose up to £10k of their pension a year.

How would you go about lobbying the government to reintroduce maintenance grants? Would you work collaboratively?

Yeah, definitely. We’re always stronger together. If I can get other bodies on my side, other unis and the NUS, that’s where we’ll have the most impact.

I’m more than happy to work with others. I'm not saying in a year I’ll be able to bring back maintenance grants alone, but if you build up a really strong campaign it could be really effective, and that’s what I’ll aim to do.

Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add?

I think that I would be best for the role because I feel like I’ve had a well rounded student life. I’ve had a part-time job during my full-time degree at uni, I'm part of the biggest political campaigning society in the union, have worked hard on my degree and had a social life. So I feel like I can represent every student and I hope I’d be able to do that.