INTERVIEW: VP Student Communities Candidates

As part of our 2015 election coverage, we’ve been grilling the Sabbatical candidates with our very own Soton Tab questions. This instalment features the VP Student Communities candidates Rebecca Lake and […]


As part of our 2015 election coverage, we’ve been grilling the Sabbatical candidates with our very own Soton Tab questions. This instalment features the VP Student Communities candidates Rebecca Lake and Anjit Aulakh.

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Why should people vote for you?

Rebecca: I’d be a breath of fresh air to SUSU and the students it represents. As a second year student I mix heavily with various student groups and have more “grass-roots” knowledge and awareness of the issues students face. I hold honesty, integrity and accountability extremely highly and through this I will to be able improve student relationships with SUSU and with other student groups. We are after all one big community and we need more unity and solidarity to act like one.

Anjit: Its the same as any other voting process really, they should vote for me if they can relate to and agree with what I stand for and what I’ve done so far. To supplement the same I’d like to think I’m an approachable, honest and a hard working individual who wants to influence change. As many people might know I am the current VP Student Communities as well and having held the post for a year I do believe I can be so much more productive the following year on as I’ve been accustomed and have familiarised myself with the job responsibilities. Having laid down the groundwork for some big projects I’d like to see them bear fruit and build on that.

What will you do to improve JCRs that hasn’t been done before?

Rebecca: I would introduce an “Easy Going” Representative and International Representative in each JCR committee, implement a more thorough and professional JCR recruitment and training process, and directly address the issue of “sharking” through more extensive training and sanctions, working in tangent with the initiative of promoting consent.

Anjit: I think I’ve already started the process by going at the general training from a completely different angle to the year before to the point I’ve had a couple of JCRs tell me they were inspired by it and really look forward to the year ahead. Furthermore I think I’d like to build a true sense of community although it sounds cheesy I really want there to be collaboration in terms of campaigns people communicating amongst themselves and across the board in general. And something quite big I’d like to do is to come up with JCR videos wherein they take everyone through what their halls look like, where they can find their nearest hangout spots, markets,etc. 🙂 I want the JCRs to come across as one big happy family whom anyone and everyone in halls can approach without hesitation.

Which Disney character represents you best, and why?

Rebecca: Nala from The Lion King – she is persistent, courageous, loyal and responsible, seeking to do what is right and knows how important accountability is. She is also independent, stands firm for what she believes in and is not easily put down. The complexity of her character fascinates me and I often find myself relating to her.

Anjit: I’ve been told by a very wise search engine called google that I most resemble Mickey Mouse, and while I don’t have a Pluto or a Minnie Mouse I can see why that is so and personally I’m quite chuffed with it 🙂

If you get this role, which issue will take immediate priority for you?

Rebecca: First and foremost, I want to improve the quality of communication and service that societies in the Communities Zone receive, particularly where they are struggling with one aspect or another and need support. Instead of telling groups to come and talk to me if they have a problem, I want to physically go to the groups that I would represent and talk to them. This lack of communication is a huge factor as to why student engagement is such a problem and if this were improve SUSU would see better engagement in future.

Anjit: It will have to be the pre sessional students (who are international students who come here not only to improve their English but also to learn about the British culture at the same time 🙂 ) who arrive and start their course in the very first week of July, so that’ll have to take priority. Last year with regards to pre sessional students it was a bit like being thrown into the deep end as every thing kick started as soon as I was in post however this year I can most definitely be better prepared.

How will you improve support for students on satellite campuses?

Rebecca: WSA students feel so let down by SUSU, and I don’t really blame them – I aim to provide them the opportunity to vote on whether students there want greater “devolved” powers from SUSU, where they can hold their own events, more of their own societies and their own committees. I also want access to more convenient, faster and cheaper transport to and from Highfield because they are missing out on the student experience that those based at Highfield are having – the experience that students at WSA deserve. I would like greater SUSU presence at NOC, and for students based at SGH I want a safety bus specifically for them when finishing late placements as well as lockers to store equipment safely.

Anjit: I’ve already taken steps in the right direction in this stead especially looking at WSA wherein we’ve now actually got a manager there to concentrate solely on Winchester. Having spoken to the right people I’ve got the ball rolling for what looks like a shuttle bus to and from WSA. Furthermore I’ve made it a point to have better publicity and infrastructure in the other sites. Looking at the NOC where lots of people cycle and there’s very little space I’d like to get some more and make sure its well kept at the same time. Furthermore the NOC has a bike pump and repair station right next to the parking spaces and I fail to see why these can’t be set up in our other satellite campuses like the SGH. Furthermore I’d like to see the common rooms particularly the in the NOC and the SGH refurbished and then put procedures in place to ensure their upkeep.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Rebecca: I think it would be being able to easily communicate with animals. My family recently got a puppy and we love him to bits, but we all agree that it would be much easier if he could talk to us to tell us what he wants, and for us to tell him why we don’t want him chewing the wall….

Anjit: Healing any kind of ailment I could. About 9 years ago my mother slipped a disk in her spinal cord  and was bedridden for almost 2 years and whilst those two years brought our family very close it was hellish and to this day my mother can’t bend her back and gets tired very easily so that’s my reasoning behind the same 🙂

Why are you the best representative for Post-Graduate and Mature students?

Rebecca: I want to make the Mature Student and Student Parent Network a Union Group and create a Postgraduate Research Committee within the Communities Zone that will be the best representatives for these groups. This will vastly improve Postgraduate and Mature Student representation and engagement within SUSU without me pretending to know all about the issues they face and being unsuccessful in helping them. Through co-operating with officers that best represent them I can achieve this better understanding and physically go to these groups to talk with them regularly and directly, working towards the student experience these often alienated groups deserve.

Anjit: Having set up the the Mature Students and Student Parent Network and having interacted with many postgraduate students, Research and Taught alike over the year, I do believe I have a good understanding of how the students union can help them as well as lobby the university to make sure they’re get the correct support that they need from us. Be it more events to chill out, TED talks, support structures, etc. We need to listen to them and see what they need instead of just putting things in place.

Deal breaker – Jesters or Sobar?

Rebecca: Neither – The Hobbit is where it’s at! People can talk to each other, the music is fantastic, the drinks are nice, it has outside space that sells food and a room where bands can play music. If I had to choose though, it would be Sobar – much nicer toilets..

Anjit: Oooooooooooooh now that’s a tricky question for someone who doesn’t drink and I don’t think I’ll do justice to this question but I’ll give it a go. Sobar is cleaner and slightly easygoing on us sober people and while I’ve only been there once I think the atmosphere is pretty good and the bouncers are friendly and don’t mind a chat 🙂 on the other hand people tend to let go in Jesters and I enjoy people relaxing and just having fun, I remember a friend once trying to pick up a coin of the floor in jesters and it was the funniest thing ever :p whilst I’d like to leave this on a tie and what you might think to be a politician’s answer is in essence me just being honest and saying that both places in my personal opinion have treated me well.

Who do you think is the best choice for VP Student Communities? Is either candidate worthy of your support? Let us know in the poll and the comments below!