We spoke to Ben Franklin about how to be a good President

SUSU President Ben Franklin spills the secrets to success


Nominations have been released, and now the three-week-long campaign begins. Sabb candidates will soon begin promoting their agendas around campus and on social media, rallying support and hoping to gain the majority of voters. I spoke to Ben Franklin, current SUSU President, to find out what makes a great sabb officer and campaign.

What attributes will successful candidates possess?

You need to be likeable, you need to speak to your abilities and you need to be memorable. I guess those are they three main things: be memorable, be a strong candidate ability-wise and come across well, be likeable, be a people-person.

 What piece of advice would you give the candidates working on their campaigns?

Plan more. I did a lot of things very reactively, because I felt like ‘oh someone’s said this, now I have to do a post as well,’ which didn’t always work out brilliantly, so I think just have a clear plan of what lectures you’re going to do, what posts you’re going to put out and when. Just be clear in your mind and be confident with your strategy as well.

What was it about your campaign that you believe won you the presidential role?

I won’t lie, it’s probably the ‘Anaconda’ video. Just because that had a reach of 11-thousand people on Facebook. I was flyering in Glen Eyre and I put a flyer through the door and a girl looked up and said ‘oh my god, it’s that guy from Anaconda!’ and I was like right that’s what I’m going for now. So yeah I think that was probably a big help.

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#BENACONDA To celebrate the start of physical campaigning, here’s a new rendition of Anaconda with a few manifesto based lyrical changes – challenge accepted and completed, Soton Tab

Posted by Benjamin Franklin for SUSU President on Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Is there anything you regret doing or not doing during your campaign?

I think at times I was a bit to jovial. Some people, when I was elected, actually thought I’d run as a joke candidate which was borderline offensive. So I think I could’ve taken a bit more time to articulate my serious aims as well as having fun with the campaign.

What’s been the best thing about being SUSU President this year?

Probably that I have met literally hundreds of people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, some of them who’ve become good friends, some of whom I see regularly, all of them with their own lives and concerns that are genuinely fascinating and who I’d never have met otherwise. A lot of them I’ve met through stuff I’ve done or they come up to me and say ‘hi you’re our president can I talk to you about this?’ It’s just been really eye-opening.

To prepare next year’s candidates, what’s the hardest thing about being a sabb?

Sometimes you’ll try really, really hard, you’ll put a lot of effort into doing a small good and that can be disheartening in itself, but then if that gets slated, which happens quite a lot as well (there are misunderstandings), you will try your best to do something right and then if it isn’t delivered properly it can just be absolute chaos. But we get through it.

Did you consider re-running for president for 2016/17?

The temptation [was] so strong. But I do have a degree to finish so I should go back and do that. Maybe next year…

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Do you think the average student knows enough about the sabb elections?

That’s a very good question, I think students know they’re happening and I think they know how to get involved, but I don’t think the average student knows enough about why it’s important, why it impacts on them.

And why is it so important for them to vote?

Because so many people accuse SUSU of being a clique, that’s its own separate issue that I’ve tried to dismantle a hundred times. But I think if you think that the people running your Students Union, which is a really influential body in your time at university, doesn’t look enough like you or sound enough like you, then the best thing you can do about that is to nominate someone, moninate yourself, run and vote for the person you think most does. Because if they’re the same people or same strand of people getting it year on year, then there’s ‘gonna be no progress.

What should voters look for when picking their new sabb officers for the forthcoming year?

[The candidates] need to be on the student’s side, they need to not be afraid to challenge SUSU, they need to not be afraid to challenge the university, they need to have a clear vision. We’re here to support students, we’re not here to make SUSU rich or make the university love us, we’re here to make things better for students.

Thanks for your words of wisdom Ben – we hope next year’s President can live up to you!