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‘I want to reform study spaces’: An interview with Lilian Jones

She’s running to be the next SU President

Lilian Jones is the current co-chair of Sheffield Labour Students and is also on the Bummit committee. She's also running to be the next president of the SU.

In recent days, she has stepped up her campaigning, with banner making, door knocking, and a strong social media presence in recent days. With voting now open, she sat down with us to discuss her five flagship policies, renters' rights, and non-stop retro pop.

What motivated you to run for SU President?

So I’ve been involved in SU activities for quite a few years now. I’ve been on Labour committee for three years now, and on Bummit committee.

I just feel like I’m the right person, got the right experience and have a very strong campaigning background. I just think I’m the person that can get things done, work on behalf of people and work well with people. I can bring a positive spin to the role of SU President.

How are you going to be campaigning?

First of all, I want the campaign to be positive. The other candidates are running a positive campaign, so I don’t want to do anything too negative. It’s good to see other women running.

I want to get my manifesto out there, when I explain it to people there are changes they genuinely want to see and people are genuinely interested. I want to be on the concourse and chatting to people about it all.

What do you think the SU’s priorities should be?

I've got five main areas I want to change, and if I get elected they’ll be things I focus on. I want to broaden access to education through job advice sessions for sixth formers and reforming admission access.

I want to reform study space, and put microwaves in study areas. If the library’s full, it’s hard to know where else to go to study.

I want to improve safety. None of us feel safe walking home and I don’t feel the street lighting’s great, and I want to create a taxi sharing scheme for after nights out, as well as a cheaper cloakroom.

On mental health, resources are limited in some ways but people don’t know how to engage with them. Lots of my friends didn’t know how to get extenuating circumstances, didn’t know how to access counselling. I want to make a guide for each subject for each year group. There’s a whole range of services and I want to make people aware of those.

I think we should empower student renters, and create a website where students can submit landlord reviews. We’ve just got no way of making them accountable, and there’s a big difference between setting standards and enforcing them. They’ve done it in Leeds and it’s worked there. Off the back of that, we can recognise good landlords with a yearly awards event.

Which bits of the SU are you most proud of?

I love the societies I’m involved in, all the societies are really great and the sports are fantastic. I’m a big fan of the nights out, I love Pop Tarts.

I'm really glad for the work we’ve done with liberation groups. It's brilliant to have an SU that is politically engaged and is aware of, and addresses, what’s going on; that’s really important. I love Sheffield – there’s so many things that I’m really proud of.

Who do you look up to politically? Who’s inspired your campaign?

That’s a very good question actually. I’m a big fan of female Labour MPs, particularly Yvette Cooper for example, people who are really engaged. I think Harriet Harman is amazing.

Which policy is most important to you?

I think empowering of student renters is one I’m really proud of. It's a strong policy that makes a lot of sense, and an area where students are often not treated as well. I think there are certain areas like mental health that are very important, but I also think that this is a standout policy.

What would you say to people who aren’t planning to vote, or aren't interested?

The officer roles can genuinely affect people. They can make changes that genuinely have an impact on people’s lives and improve student experience. Also I think as young people at the moment we’re becoming increasingly politically engaged, and aware of issues that are going on.

It’s really good that people are interested in engagement with the society we’re living in, and it's always been the case, just demonstrated recently. If you care about your Students’ Union and want to have a say in it, it’s the equivalent to a general election. It’s having a say in something that affects you and that’s a really good thing.

Any last things?

I think it really does matter with these sort of things. There’s not a lot in it and choosing policies you care about and want to see is really important.

If people have questions for me and want to speak to me I want to speak to people, message my page or message me on Facebook. I want to see what people have to say, and I want to be engaged with what people are doing.