Published by Impact Magazine (Online) March 04, 2014.
On Monday 3rd March, a candidate question time at PresComm gave those running for the position of president in the Student Union elections a chance to answer questions relating to their manifestos and respond to JCR Presidents’ queries.
Issues discussed included the integration of students living in self-catered halls as well as improvements to bus services, student safety and societies. All presidential candidates were in attendance.
Several candidates used the question time to expand on the the idea of a ‘Lenton Hub’, a university space for the popular student residential area. Calum Morris told the JCR presidents that he was prioritising the idea after speaking to second and third years. Harry Copson also supported the idea, saying that the SU “should go to where the students are.”
Other candidates, however, were opposed to the proposal. Mandour Jnr did not include the Lenton Hub in his manifesto, citing the cost. Instead, he said that he would “form a sub-body of students” to represent those that live in the area in order to make it more connected to the university. Katie Williams also disagreed with the idea of a hub, claiming that she does not want to “patronise voters.”
Katie Williams disagreed with the idea of a hub, claiming that she does not want to “patronise voters”.
Candidates were also asked about transport, especially in regard to difficulties during exam season. Katie Williams, Calum Morris, Mandour Jnr and Harry Copson agreed that a Lenton bus service simply would not work, referencing previous attempts and the already overcrowded hopper bus. Calum Morris argued that the increased fleet of double decker 34 buses could be put to better use and Mandour Jnr stated that training in better time management might help solve the issues.
Harry Copson believes that the buses need “refining over overhauling” and suggested university subsidies and improving lighting on the bus route. Tom Hicks felt it was unlikely that an extended bus service could come to fruition, as it would be difficult to research and present data about how many use the library until 2-3am. James Potts claimed that the other candidates were “not doing their homework”, saying that he had contacted the NCT, who stated that from September double decker buses would be introduced 100% of the time anyway.
James Potts claimed that the other candidates were “not doing their homework”.
Candidates were asked about a particular manifesto idea they would like to elaborate on. James Potts mentioned a ‘Personal Activity Calendar’, which is in operation at Nottingham Trent, and would integrate Moodle with all academic hours listed as well as including JCR/societies events. Tom Hicks stated that he wants to improve the welcome that new students receive, with particular emphasis on collaboration between courses and corresponding societies to put on events where older students can provide an idea of what to expect from their time at Nottingham. Calum Morris, meanwhile, spoke about the potential for Fresher’s Fair to become more interactive and visual: a “show and tell” rather than a pitch, which he deemed to be intimidating for students.
A question from the floor asked the candidates to talk about their policies related to postgraduate and international students. Johnny Lawrence emphasised the importance of mental health and offering counselling, citing a study which highlighted the pressures felt by post-grads. Katie Williams criticised the campaigning focus on Hallward and wants to be different and engage with those she feels are ignored. Mandour Jnr responded by lamenting the barrier between home and international students and felt his proposed public “speaker’s corner” would enable interaction. Harry Copson suggested that more information should be provided to international students before their arrival, especially in terms of housing. He also wants to introduce more regular events to boost integration. Tom Hicks debated whether the International Welcome Week was actually necessary, suggesting that it might be immediately alienating to international students and should be scrapped. James Potts responded by saying that societies representing nationalities and courses should be promoted to help students find likeminded peers.
Tom Hicks suggested that International Welcome Week might be “immediately alienating”.
A JCR president also questioned the inclusion of videoed lectures on some candidate’s manifestos. James Potts responded that the fact that attendance drops when lectures are videoed is “actually a myth”. Other candidates urged more caution in terms of motivation and copyright. Tom Hicks remarked that a trial period would answer the doubts and the policy could be revoked if it did not work.
All presidential candidates will attend a question time on Sutton Bonington Campus on the 10th March and on the 12th March the Presidential Candidates will face a second Question time.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu and Ella Funge