‘I’m here to show students that your opinion matters.’: The Tab Sussex talks to Frida Gustafsson
The current SU President is running for a second term
Over the past year Frida Gustafsson has brought Sussex hot drinks in the library and more as President of the Students' Union. We sat down with her to ask why you should vote for her for a second term.
You list 19 points on your manifesto. What will you prioritise if re-elected?
Frida admits that "there's a lot i'd like to achieve in a year", and explains that "the points are about what kind of Sussex i'd like to see."
In terms of her main priorities, she wants to "improve the SU and focus on issues relevant to students." Frida tells us that the priorities of a President "change over the year" and that she will aim to keep up with those changes.
The main manifesto points Frida intends to focus on are; "Creating the SU app, making sure the bars are great even after we lose east slope and making sure the SU represents students more."
The SU voted to support strikes which have caused chaos to timetables, study and most importantly mental health. As the face of the SU, can you justify this stance?
Frida explains to us that she thinks "the SU actively supporting strikes is important, but the SU represents 18,000 students and needs to be there for every student."
She hopes that students can separate the stance of the SU as a whole with her own actions; "I don't care about how strikes affect me, but how they affect students. I hope that people will see the work that I do not as the work the entire SU does."
Last year you wanted better buses. Since then, bus prices have gone up and we haven't really seen any improvements. This year you have removed buses from your main manifesto points, why is this?
Frida believes that "You want an officer that promises what they can deliver." She assures us that she still considers buses a "real issue for Sussex" and agrees that "few things are as annoying as B&H buses."
She explains that she wants to "show students that they aren't just electing someone saying the same thing. I'm going to make new changes" before stating that "this doesn't mean transport isn't a priority." Frida has changed her angle from focusing on buses to focusing on transport as a whole. She tells us that she wants to "focus on why parking permits are so expensive and such a mess" and tells us that she will "lobby the university to reinvest money from parking permits into transport services."
Whilst she has removed one of her main points from last year's manifesto, and indeed bus prices have increased and the service hasn't improved, Frida reassures us that she has not been idle. When she was elected for president, the SU was due to move into a new £10million building.
"It became clear to me that this wouldn't be the best way to use £10million. I noticed how underfunded student support services were. There was not enough sports investment or counselling investment. I couldn't justify the SU being in a £10mil building at the expense of student services. " That money has now been invested in support pport services.
Why do you think that someone being president for two terms would be more effective than a new president?
Frida has already spent a term in office as President of the SU. She believes that "you can used the experience you've gained to be more effective." She realises that "a lot of people running have similar ideas to make the union better" and argues that "you need someone that gets this union" to achieve these promises.
One thing that Frida has learned as President is that she would like a better way for students to connect with the SU, societies and events. She proposes the idea of creating a new app for the SU. The university already has an app, but Frida believes investing in the creation of a new app would be a worthwhile task.
"The app would make the SU more relevant to students. If it's in your phone, it's yours. The Sussex app isn't very flexible, the SU app would be a better app and not just links to the website. It could also be an easier way to vote. I want to make it easier for students to see what's happening on campus each day, instead of having to keep up with tons of emails and facebook events."
Would you prefer cheaper chips or cheaper pints?
Frida tells us that she would have neither cheaper chips, nor cheaper pints. She defends her reasoning for this; "The trading company and the income they make has a huge impact. They fund the buddy scheme, societies, sports clubs."
Frida believes that cheaper food in SU-operated outlets would be a negative thing for the student body as "the money goes into funding the university and paying a living wage. Whilst cheaper chips and cheaper pints is a nice idea, it devalues the significant work and value of our trading staff. "