External Campaigns Committee Explained
Jo Boon interviews Toby Emerson about his position on the SRC.
Last semester Toby Emerson was elected as the member for External Campaigns on the Student Representative Council (SRC) and we sit down in Rectors to talk politics. We start easy: why did you run for the position? A desire to take part in the student body, to give something back, to support activism by channelling Union resources were all cited but the most striking part of his answer was a reference to his time in Hong Kong.
He talks about the stereotypical apathy associated with activism there but how the widespread support for movements, particularly by students, impressed him. He saw what campaigns could achieve and wanted to see something similar in St Andrews, he wishes to link people together, to help activists find each other and to offer resources for their cause.
I try to delve a little deeper: So what do you want to have achieved by the end of the year? It’s not just about achieving a list of campaigns, he says, ‘I want to put a structure in place.’ There are specific campaigns that are currently being worked on: the universities divestment, Prevent, the change to UK student fees, the move to send aid to refugees… to name but a few but these are not the focus of the year. Toby wants to put a structure in place so that students know this role exists and that they can come to the Union for help. He wants to ensure there are links between students, the Union, student papers and other universities so that a collaborative effort can take place.
So can you specify exactly what help the union can give to students? Funding is the first thing that comes up; the External Campaigns team have a small pool of money themselves and can facilitate an application for support from other areas of the Union. For example, some students wish for funding to get a bus to peacefully protest outside Faslane, where nuclear submarines armed with Trident missiles, are kept.
Toby has also recently set up a Facebook page which can widen support for movements within St Andrews. The Union building can also be used to provide space to support projects, for example it is currently being used to provide storage space for the donations being made to send to refugees in Calais. So, to simplify it, the Union can offer support in the form of time, money, expertise and space.
Do you personally support the campaigns that you are and will be helping with? Toby’s answer is clear: ‘The way I see it is that I was elected by the student body to represent all of it; some have very different opinions to me so no, I will not personally support all the campaigns but I will offer support equally to everyone. This isn’t something I will enforce on my subcommittee but it is important that I remain neutral as union resources all for everyone.’ Can you tell me more about the subcommittee? Toby selected his subcommittee of four himself through a process of applications and interviews.
Until last year subcommittees were made up of other SRC members so this is the first time it has been composed of people who have specifically applied to be part of the team. They are open to your ideas and want to hear all about what campaigns you are putting on in St Andrews. Feel free to contact Toby on [email protected] if you would like support with your project. Keep campaigning!