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‘I’m running on realistic and reliable policies’: An interview with Ben Warner

Ben is running for Education Officer

With experience on welfare committee and the Forge Press editorial team, Ben Warner is one of the candidates for Education Officer at this year's Students' Union elections.

Ben spoke to The Sheffield Tab about why he decided to run, free education, and what he has contributed to the Students' Union so far.

Why have you decided to run for Education Officer?

I never really had ideas about running but I've become more and more involved the SU through Forge Press and Welfare Committee. I want to help students and my ideas live in education. I think I'm genuinely the best candidate to take things forward and improve the lives of students.

What are your policies for the position?

I'm running on reliable and realistic policies which will help students. For example, £5 printer credit for every undergraduate student every year and not just at the start of uni. That'll be the start of tackling hidden costs – people come to uni and spend their loans, then have to find the money for textbooks and other hidden costs.

I want to lobby departments for more choices over assessments. Philosophy already do this – they let people decide whether they want to be assessed on essays, exams, or part essays, part exams. It's already been done in the university and just needs rolling out institution wide.

I want to ensure support for disabled students and we do the best job possible. Uni already has great services such as the DDSS, and some departments do a fantastic job. I want to give leaflets to disabled students when they start uni making them aware of all the support available. I also want to make sure every student has at least one meeting to track their progress.

On principle I do believe education should be free, but I won't pretend it will be free in a year. I will campaign for it and make Sheffield the voice of Yorkshire in lobbying Parliament about this. I want to focus on maintenance grants for students and short-term issues they face.

Finally, I want to introduce a priority booking system for study spaces like Pam Liversidge and 38 Mappin Street. No one likes getting up at 7am and scrambling for seats in the IC. The space is there, we just need to make use of it, and a priority booking system will improve students' grades and wellbeing.

What does the SU do best, and what does it need to change most urgently?

I think the SU does really good work in having great services here, and the focus on sustainability is a cause close to my heart.

The SU probably just needs to communicate with the uni a bit better, and I think my policies are integral to that. Our SU is fundamentally a wonderful thing we should all be proud of, and the best in the country. No SU is perfect and that's why it's great to see so many wonderful candidates running in these elections. The SU is great and can only get better.

How have you found the campaign so far?

I think it's really interesting. What it's done is opened my eyes to how much students can care when it does affect their lives. I really enjoy talking to people and telling them about how my policies will improve their lives. Loads of people didn't know about the elections and when they find out it's going on they really care.

I'm happy to listen to what they've got to say. Students come to me with stuff and I'd absolutely look into it. It's great to see so many people working so hard and it's great to see people being so passionate about it and it's given me a re-invigoration for the SU. I'm looking forward to more doorknocking and appearing in lectures. It's really interesting talking to first years too, and really important to get them involved.

What has your highlight of your time at uni been?

I think what's made me proudest is representing journalism students on SU Council, standing up for their interests not only at a department level but with uni wide concerns. That's prepared me really well and that's why I believe I'm the best candidate for Education Officer.

Anything else?

I think these elections are really important and I hope you'll put your trust in me to be your next Education Officer when voting opens on Monday.