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‘An SU for societies, sports and for everyone’: An interview with Gabe Milne

‘I feel duty bound to stick my head above the parapet for my community’

Gabe Milne has been involved in the SU for years, being on the SU council, a member of multiple societies committees and the working committee. He has represented the uni at the National Union of Students conference twice and is now running for President of the SU.

In the run up to the election Gabe has made his social media presence known through his eye-catching graphics and his campaign video. He sat down with us to discuss his ideas on how he wants to make the SU a better place and why this is so important to him.

What inspired you to run for SU president?

I feel like we need to treat sports and societies better through funding them more, and giving our sports teams the representation they deserve, and actually making the case that they need more money.

I also see the importance in the need to make people feel comfortable simply being in this building. Having spoken to students on the autistic spectrum who get sensory overload from the loud building it flags up a problem that is actually really easy to fix and to help make our SU better for everyone.

I’ve got a set of clear causes and the drive for becoming SU President is because I want to put these things right.

What are your main priorities if you became president of our SU?

I have three main priorities. Firstly, to create a comprehensive accessibility strategy; which means reviewing our structures from top to bottom, including the way we work, things like democracy and our staff training. Reviewing them and seeing who is being left out by these things, for example are disabled students being fairly included in these things

Secondly, I want to give an extra £20,000 to societies. £40,000 is the current funding and makes such a big difference so adding another £20,000 could be very transformative. I want societies to be able to create bigger and better events, this impacts everyone – almost everyone is in a society, and if they aren’t then they’re involved in a sports team which comes on to my third point.

A sports accessibility fund. Currently the SU has no fund that sports teams can apply to, if there was one, they could apply to this to get a number of free kits, or free travel for under privileged students to sport events and to make sure all students can participate in sports teams.

How are you planning on getting an extra £20,000 funding?

There’s three main sources. One being that NUS is going to cut its affiliation fees this year, that could drop by £15,000, meaning immediately that’s £15,000 more.

The SU food van, that will soon be operating after nights out. This would also create new revenue for the Union.

Finally through commercial opportunities such as additional sponsorship, advertising etc. I would work closely with the development officer to gain new revenue. The money is definitely there.

Last year the SU team was all women for the first time in a very long time, how would you feel about extending this legacy?

I feel it was a massive step forward having an all-woman team, it’s great to have so many women in leadership positions. The focus this year is on ‘we should run’ rather than ‘she should run’ the focus is more on women and other liberation groups too.

I’m Jewish and have been victim of antisemitic assaults in my life, when I was 14, a group of grown men assaulted me because I was Jewish. It’s about people more generally from liberation backgrounds running for these things because our voices need to be heard. Part of the reason I’m so involved is because I feel duty bound to stick my head above the parapet for my community and for students in general.

No matter how much abuse I get on Twitter – and I’ve got plenty – I think it’s important to not let that distract you from your goals.

I think it's fantastic how many women we have engaged, there’s some great female candidates running for many different positions this year, and I can’t wait to potentially be working with some of them.

What have you got that maybe other candidates don’t?

None of the other candidates have the same experience of the Students' Union that I do so they haven’t built a manifesto that can change the Students' Union like I have.

My aims are built on years of working with underprivileged students and minority groups, and getting involved.

Other candidates don’t have the same experience as me, so wouldn’t effectively implement their manifestos in the way I would be able to.

What would you say to people who aren’t planning on voting or don’t care?

I get it. There is this problem that exists in every officer team, that things just generally don’t get done. People feel like they are electing people to do nothing.

If you’re voting for the first time you should give me a chance because my manifesto is thought through, ambitious but easily achievable within a year.

Sports and societies funding is something that affects everybody and this is something I know I can deliver on. If people aren’t voting because they’re fed up of same tired candidates and policies, then I ask them to vote for me as I genuinely believe I can make a difference and be a break from recent years.

Last thoughts…

I want to be SU president because I want to make a real difference. I want to make an SU that works for sports, an SU that works for societies and an SU that works for everyone. To anyone who is reading this article, if that’s a vision you share, I'd be honoured to have your vote.

If you are running in the SU elections and would like an interview with The Sheffield Tab, please message our Facebook page or email [email protected]