INTERVIEW: SUSU Presidential Candidates

The head honcho. The big cheese. The cat’s pyjamas. These are all terms that accurately describe the SUSU President, the person who will play an instrumental role in tackling the […]


The head honcho. The big cheese. The cat’s pyjamas. These are all terms that accurately describe the SUSU President, the person who will play an instrumental role in tackling the issues faced by Southampton students over the next year.

It is only natural, therefore, that you would want the lowdown on the candidates for this position. Fear not, the Soton Tab has got you covered. Meet Benjamin Franklin and Sebastian Vogelpoel, rivals for the SUSU throne.

We posed some key questions in order to provide you with insight into their characters and their policies, and to help you decide who is worthy of your vote when the elections open.

president candidates


Explain the role of the SUSU President in your own words.

Ben: First among equals, chair of the trustee subcommittees, sets the tone and direction of the Union’s plans for growth and improvement… the Beyoncé to the Destiny’s Sabbatical Child.

Sebastian: The role of SUSU President is primarily a supportive one. Many of the tasks of the Union are undertaken by VPs, and it’s the President’s job to help facilitate all sabbs to contribute fully and in a balanced way. A President’s role should also include fulfilling their own visions so it’s important that they can communicate what those are. Crucially, the role of SUSU President requires the balancing the views of thousands of students. You can’t please everyone, so it’s important that a president can take criticism and react positively. One should also have an amiable relationship with the University of Southampton; it should be clear that SUSU works with the University rather than for it.

Choose three qualities you have which would make you an effective President.

Ben: Assertiveness, optimism and leadership. I think these would be useful in combatting the current indifference to SUSU shown by a lot of students. I want to listen and help people, not just snap my fingers and expect problems to go away.

Sebastian: I think the three qualities would have to be: leadership, adaptability and good communication.

What would be your primary objective if elected President?

Ben: Work on the next five-year plan, including plans for expansion of the Union building to give better facilities to our excellent, but under-resourced, student groups. Ultimately I would like to make SUSU so successful that people choose to come to Southampton University in part because of the reputation of the union and its members.

Sebastian: To ensure better student welfare at the University. That means making ‘special considerations’ something clearer to all students and making student supervisors more responsible for struggling students. I also want to alter the current penalty on late submissions from 10% down to 5%. I feel the current grading level is too harsh; not all problems can be defined as special considerations and it’s important that when we make mistakes they don’t completely undermine the final marks we get.

Is there anything you see as a problem for SUSU, and how would you go about addressing it?

Ben: SUSU is currently obsessed with trying to make people who just don’t care, care. ‘Stop trying to make fetch happen- it’s not going to happen’ applies here. I want SUSU to be focussed on making things better for the people who are involved, and attract those that aren’t by building a good reputation rather than by pandering.

Sebastian: As well as the special consideration issue I mentioned earlier, I think SUSU needs to be willing to support students as much as possible in areas outside their degree. I also think SUSU needs to shout about the things it does do right, so that it can maintain the interest required to flourish.

You’re being sent to a desert island, which three things would you take with you?

Ben: My phone (selfie game STRONG), Netflix, and white wine. It doesn’t matter where I am, with those three things, I am home.

Sebastian: Obviously food and water would have to be top of the list, but I’ll cheat and put them both together as my first answer. Secondly I think it would be a good idea to have a large tarpaulin sheet. It could provide shade, be something to signal to passing ships with, and could double as a sleeping bag during cold nights. Lastly, I would take a radio with me. I feel in the absence of human company it would help keep me going,  as well as helping me keep track of time.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you choose and why?

Ben: To be a super-talented gymnast. Think about it, you’d be crazy strong and flexible, always have a party trick, all the fame that comes with the inevitable Olympic success. I’m also hoping that as it’s a superpower I’d be able to bend that into the ability to run fast, jump high, be really strong, have amazing reflexes and spatial awareness, it’d just be great.

Sebastian: This is a hard one; but I think I would go for the ability to transform into any animal. Not only would this give me the ability to fly or gain heightened senses etc., it would also allow me to retain an understanding of animals that would allow me to communicate to them in human form, perhaps not the most powerful of superpowers, but a source of endless delight no less.

Do you have a message for your rival?

Ben: I wish I could grow a beard, I congratulate you sir.

Sebastian: I’d like to congratulate him on his choice to run. Unfortunately this year it will only be a two horse race, but I relish the competition nonetheless. Ben is a capable individual and from what I know someone who is not afraid to think and act independently. I look forward to going head to head in debate and comparing our visions for SUSU. May the best man win!

Jesters or Sobar?

Ben: It’s not that simple, are you asking me on a Monday? A Tuesday? This is like choosing a favourite child Harry, don’t make me do this.

Sebastian: Neither preferably. The best night out I’ve had at Southampton was actually at Talking Heads and I encourage anyone who hasn’t been to give it a try. Between Jesters and Sobar I can’t say I think much of either of them, although I think I would choose Jesters simply because I feel it has a better outside area than Sobar.

So there you have it, two of Southampton’s political heavyweights going toe-to-toe for your vote. We hope this interview can provide assistance when you hit the ballot boxes. Your vote counts, so don’t let it go to waste.

Who do you think is the best choice for President? Vote in the poll below!