‘I want to bring real change to the union, by providing services to the students which will have a real benefit to their lives.’: George Fairweather on why he should be Union President

He’s dedicated on improving mental and emotional support at the Uni.


We interviewed George Fairweather, who’s running for SUSU president, about why he thinks his focus on improving support surrounding the emotional well-being of students will being about the change our Uni needs.

Why do you think you’d be good in this role?

Presidents in the past have either failed to provide substantial improvement, wasted money, or caused some form of controversy. I want to bring real change to the union, by providing services to the students which will have a real benefit to their lives, either with mental health support, support for sexual abuse victims, or those struggling with alcohol problems at university. I want to bring radical change to the union, and not keep the status quo.

What is the most important point in your manifesto?

I would say I have 3 co-equal most important points in my manifesto, and those are the 1-to-1 mental health support with diagnostic capabilities, 1-to-1 and group support for sexual abuse victims, and the AA group support for those suffering alcohol problems. I want to make sure these aspects of my manifesto are created and available for students. Whilst meal deals and engagement are also important, the triad of policies I have stated rank far higher than the others, since they have such a significant impact on student life and well-being.

What is the first thing you’d change if you were elected?

The first thing I would change is the mental health support. I know I sound like a broken record, but mental health is extremely important. Given the role starts in July, the process of hiring clinical psychologists/therapists should be starting before students arrive in late September/early October. That way, the services are immediately available at the start of term, so that students who need said services are able to use them.

What area of our Student Union do you think needs the greatest improvement?

I think, aside from the other things we have discussed, student engagement is a major problem for the union. As I mentioned, the previous presidents have really soured the role, so the next president will need to make an enormous effort to improve relations between the student body and the union. I personally feel that being out there and actively talking to and getting feedback from the students is critical. I would make sure the president is engaging with the students and hearing their concerns and criticisms, and is also acting to represent students in the higher levels of the university. This will include attempting to hold the university to account when it comes to how it spends its money and what it can do to improve the campus and its facilities. Students should not feel like they are left out, and the union should behave as its name suggests and represent the students.

What makes you different from the other candidates also running for the same position?

I feel like I am offering actual solutions to problems that affect students. Whilst some of the candidates have some good ideas, such as Nikhil wanting to provide easy to find resources for mental health, these ideas seem good on paper, but either lack depth or don't seem feasibly actionable. I have personal experience dealing with mental health problems, and just suggesting you will provide easy to access resources isn't enough. For those who will be affected by said resources, they are likely in such a position where they can either look for the resources themselves or get a friend or have student life help them out. But for myself and others, that didn't work, and I don't see how making the resources easier to find would improve that. Those suffering a serious mental health problem need to be properly referred to someone who can diagnose their issues ASAP. You don't wait 6 months to fix a broken leg, why should you wait 6 months to treat a mental health problem? I want to make sure what the students are being provided will ACTIVELY help them. I am offering serious radical change to what the union offers students. Having seen what the union has offered in the past, I feel like I am offering something for all students, even meal deals, an idea I haven't seen a winning president offer before.

How would you celebrate if you won?

Personally, I'd be celebrating in stags with my friends having a well-earned pint.

Any secret talents?

I don't have any party tricks, but I can cook a mean chilli and some damn decent burgers.

What is the maddest thing you’ve done since being at Uni?

Probably going to Jesters sober, a mad experience, and not one I'd recommend for the faint-hearted. I also enjoy a cold winters day in shorts and a t-shirt.

Favourite post-night-out food?

My post night out food would be burger and chips.

What is your favourite Soton tab meme?

Image may contain: Plywood, Floor, Flooring, Table, Dining Table, Animal, Cat, Mammal, Pet, Chair, Furniture, Hardwood, Wood