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VP Engagement Candidate Interview: Fleur Elizabeth Walsh

Here’s what she had to say


What made you want to run for a Saab position?

I've always been engaged with the union, and more recently I was able to experience a different type of system at the University of Western Ontario on my semester abroad, and this made me realise the fantastic potential SUSU has to be one of the greatest students' unions in this country. Whether I am successful or not this election period will allow us to bring issues onto the agenda that will see the union improve no matter who is elected. That is essentially what motivated me, knowing that we can do better, and we will do better for our students.

What’s your favourite point in your manifesto?

So I am completely in love with my manifesto, and entirely believe it to be an extension of me and my beliefs. The point I think will bring about the most effective and positive change is updating the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan. A lot of students unfortunately don't know of its existence, which is a clear issue with engagement. In order to update it I will first receive feedback, and use data from surveys already conducted, to fully understand what our students think we need, as well as taking part in an analysis of the industry at large. What are other UK universities doing to improve their unions? How do our partners oversees advocate for their students, and by extension our students when they visit? Using this rich data set I will undergo comprehensive analysis and rebuild the report in the interests of all students. From there its about making sure all students engage with this document, even with something as simple as a summary in our freshers' packs to inform them of our beliefs and motivations as a union. I believe that in clarifying our foundation as an organisation, we can steer the union in the direction of success for all of those reliant on us to represent them. This infrastructural change is not being addressed by other candidates, showing that even those running for the role of engagement are not engaged themselves, making this point the most important and therefore my favourite.

Why are you the best person for this role?

I believe I am the best person for this role because of the unique perspective I can bring from my time in Canada. Working with the Western Social Science Students' Council, on two internal committees, writing policy and having a crash course in constitutional change for the benefit of students is something no other candidate can bring to the table. The way our union works does make it hard to pioneer for change, therefore the infrastructural change I am working towards, and only I am addressing, means that I am the only candidate who will deliver on their promises of increased student representation and engagement. My passion for both this union and our students is unparalleled and unwavering, making me the best candidate for this role.

What do you think is currently the weakest area of SUSU?

The weakest area of SUSU is most definitely its engagement with students. Its incredible to me to think that Sabb officers still don't have regular office hours, that remind students that actually the union is supposed to work for them. The surveys we receive are well written, but we seldom see the change we vote for. There are many different ways to engage students and office hours, round-tables and town-halls are just a few that I am particularly well versed in. I am a firm believer that all decisions should be rooted in what the students need, and we simply cannot know this without having engaged with them first.

What are you least looking forward to during your election campaign?

As a politics student I am incredibly excited for this campaign, and have said from the beginning that I intend to run it as if I was already in this sabbatical officer role. What I’m least looking forward to is having to fulfil my academic responsibilities on top of the stress of the workload of a full-time officer that I am putting on myself. That being said, if I can do that, I can do anything!

Snog, marry, avoid: Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn?

I think I’d marry Boris, he is worth around £35 million after all. Snog Corbyn because he’s a cutie and I know he’d take it to 2nd base and finally I’d avoid May – I want to be as far away from that ‘special relationship’ as possible.

What is your favourite Soton night out?

You simply cannot beat a night out at the Palace of Dreams and I am devastated to think that our incoming freshers may not be able to experience this essential part of Southampton culture. #SaveJesters

Who is your dream dinner date?

This one is particularly easy for me; Jack Schlossberg. Grandson of JFK, Yale History graduate, Harvard Law School student, EMT, fluent in Japanese and a pioneer of the war on climate change. Any struggles I’ve had over the past 5 years I’ve stopped to ask myself ‘what would Jack do?’ and that’s what has seen me through.