Meet Jonny Harris: Rugby legend and future activities officer

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It’s that time of year again – time for you to vote for the person who took up the first 5 minutes of your lecture to talk about their manifesto, or offered you free snacks in return for pledging your support. Eventually you’ll cave in and spend two minutes of your life on the SU website picking who will essentially run your uni experience next year. Yes, it’s election time.

If you’ve not bothered to look online at the manifestos yet, I’d recommend you squeeze it into your busy schedule of eating breakfast at 11am and watching 3 year old documentaries on 4od. Voting for who will fill the various positions isn’tjust a great procrastination tactic, it also helps you have a say in how your uni experience is going. Let’s face it, if you’re here for at least another year, you might as well make sure its as good as it can be. And if you’re graduating, please don’t leave the rest of us up shit creek.

Jonny Harris is one of the contenders for Activities Officer. He’s a third year History student who loves to spend time on the rugby pitch. The Tab caught up with him to chat about his campaign.

Why do you want to be Activities Officer?

Its so important for students to get involved with all the opportunities un ihas to offer, especially the sports and societies side. It offers you a chance to make so many friends, find something new you really enjoy, and let off steam when you’re stressed with uni work. Being part of a sports team was the best part of uni for me, and I want to give that experience to other people too. Essentially, I just have a real love and passion for activities.

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We assume the sports team you’re talking about is Sussex Men’s Rugby club, who are about to complete their first reinstated year?

Yes, I’ve been part of Men’s Rugby since first year. After the ban, me and the other committee members tried to keep the club going, which was difficult considering we didn’t get any funding and weren’t allowed to be affiliated with the uni. But we really wanted to still provide an opportunity for students who were interested in rugby to get involved, and to turn people’s opinion of us around. Eventually, we were reinstated early. We did a lot of charity initiatives and I think managed to change people’s perceptions of the club. The hard work hasn’t stopped though, we want to keep all the good stuff we’ve achieved going. We wrote a new code of conduct for all our members which got put into practice this autumn, have all been trained in I<3 Consent courses, and have put on several charity events to support Galop, theBritish Legion, and CALM.

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Are you part of any other societies?

No, I’m also part of the History society. I was the social sec last year, and I’m now the treasurer.

So how has all this experience given you the edge on being a great Activities Officer?

While I’m personally really into rugby, I appreciate that not everyone is. I’m not just going to focus on sport, I just want everyone to find something that they really enjoy and can get so much out of like I have. Being communications officer for Men’s Rugby means that I’m used to negotiating and coordinating lots of people, pretty important if you’re going help run the Students’ Union!

Putting on the charity campaigns like Remembrance services and Rainbow Laces, as well as helping Men’s Rugby get reinstated, has shown me how rewarding throwing yourself into Activities can be. I would love the chance to focus on it completely next year, as obviously I’m currently having to juggle my degree as well.

What was your favourite charity event that you’ve put on?

I love karaoke, we’ve done it two years running now. This year it was for Galop, the anti-homophobia charity.

So do you love the spotlight then?

Haha I suppose you could say that – I went to a college that specialized in performing arts and managed to score an A* in Drama A Level… but took me a couple of tries!

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What about the man behind the manifesto?

I have six really cute nieces. The oldest is 11 and the youngest is almost 2.

I took a gap yah, but not to find myself in Thailand. I did set up my own business, Kismet Education . It aimed to help young women break the ‘glass ceiling’ by sending businesswomen into secondary schools to talk to them about their options. I loved doing it and definitely think I could go back into business in the future.

To finish, can you summarise your manifesto and what you want to achieve for all the lazy people who can’t be bothered to go and read the full one?

Really importantly, I want to work with the local community so that students can get work experience through societies. Work experience can be so hard to findand is so valuable, so I want to make it as easy as possible to get.

I want a complete review of sport – easier pitch hire, transparency in sports funding, and the opportunity for people who’ve never played sport before to get involved. I also want to help sponsorship, especially for societies like Dance and SUDS, who can then use the clubs and bars as rehearsal space in the daytime.

There will also be a Sussex vs. Medics varsity and campus wide charity days,because campus-wide events are such a good opportunity to get together andhave fun, as well as achieving something worthwhile.

I also want to completely rehaul our Fresher’s Week, promote ethical behavior through campaigns like Men’s Rugby have, and increase communication between societies and the SU so that everyone knows what they need to and no one is left in the dark.

Most importantly though, I really just want everyone to really enjoy their time at university. You’re here for three years, you might as well have the best time youcan, and I really think I can help you do that.

If you want to read Jonny’s full manifesto, click here.

For Jonny’s Facebook campaign, click here.

Does he have a video? Of course he does. In fact, he has many. Click his Facebook page for more.