Published by Impact Magazine (Online) March 01, 2015.
Following a successful Media Day, Impact presents the University of Nottingham Students’ Union (UoNSU) Executive Candidates for SU Elections 2015.
Angharad’s position as a Week One co-ordinator and experience on the Women’s Hockey Committee inspired her to run for the role as President, she realised how important it was to be involved in the SU and believes that the role “best suits her skill sets” .
“Hopefully I am a relatable person; [the President] needs to be someone people can approach and societies and JCRs know who you are”. Her main goal if elected is to bring in an SU app in order to improve transparency and accessibility. The app would be tailored to students’ own needs and provide regular updates of what the SU is doing.
She also wants to get societies to work together during Week One, which is “possibly one of the most important times during student’s university careers”, which would transcend throughout the whole year.
Furthermore, in her manifesto, she outlines an introduction of a ‘Rate your Landlord’ website, overhauling University of Nottingham’s online system and having a larger SU and network presence on satellite campuses.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
“I think one of the most important aspects is face-to-face communication with students. I think students spend more time having contact with SU staff than the elected students, and that needs to change”.
Ben feels his experience as a URN Station Editor, head of the Seven Legged committee and part of the Societies Executive has given him a greater insight into the role of President. He told Impact: “It’s important to have an understanding of the SU and what they can and can’t do. There’s a wide scale lack of understanding about what the SU provides and unless you understand that, you can’t successfully fulfil your role as President”.
His principal focus is creating more Students’ Union spaces on satellite campuses, including an SU hub on Jubilee Campus because there is currently “no SU presence there”. Within his creation of SU spaces, Ben wants to ensure that the Portland Review is “as successful as it needs to be”. This includes creating a venue for internal societies and external performance acts because “if we’re going to be a leading university, we have to have a Students’ Union performance space that reflects that”.
Ben also wants to provide a landlord register for students that would take the form of a Blue Castle-style review of their tenancy. Students who are looking for housing can obtain accurate information through the register. The long term goal, Ben says, is to “improve the standard of living across Lenton, because landlords need to up their game” whilst the short term goal is to “flag up problem landlords”.
Ben feels his campaign for President is unique because his manifesto points were created through meetings with student leaders to better understand their ideas. “I’m confident in saying that my manifesto truly represents what other students want from across societies, SRS, networks, halls and JCRs”.
Third year Management student, Ed Keevil, told Impact that he has loved his time at the University of Nottingham and in running for President, wanted to “continue by giving something back”.
One of his flagship policies is to stagger the meal times in on-campus halls to enable students involved in sports or societies to get a hot dinner or brunch and meet people from different halls. Ed claimed that currently these groups “miss dinners which is not fair; those participating in the SU should be celebrated”.
He also aims to improve services at the satellite campuses’ as “it is important to ensure sure they do not feel left out”. In terms of experience, Ed claims to have developed leadership skills through his committee positions in both the Boat club and Cricket club.
He believes he can “bring a lot of energy” and that he has the “right personality for the role”. In addition, Ed highlighted the need to improve training for committee members and updating the SU website to increase access and make it easier to navigate. He also proposes increasing health provisions after Week One and cultural awareness for international students to minimise culture shock on arrival.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Nicole intends to give greater support to those students that live and learn outside of University Park and get “the same, fair deal for them”.
She told Impact that she plans to achieve this by “asking students what they want. Then, when I know better what students want, I will push for these changes. If that does mean putting more events in Jubilee, or taking things to Derby, or setting up support networks and events in Sutton Bonington, I will implement them. I want to really take things to where the students are, as they will be most engaged in the place they live and learn”.
Another of Nicole’s main ambitions is to implement her manifesto point of ‘S-You Wednesday’, a play on words, she emphasises.
“It is all about you, the students. [S-You Wednesday] is to tackle a few issues […] and get all students, across all three campuses, to make the most of their Wednesdays. I have a five-factor plan for supporting physical health, mental wellbeing, career ambition, volunteering and just having a good time”.
In terms of Nicole’s past experience in representing students, she was previously a member of her JCR and is President of her course society.
However, she believes that there should be no emphasis on past formal experience. To be a successful President of the SU, she says, “is about understanding what the student wants and being a good listener”, as well as pushing through the wants and needs of the students.
Nicole’s manifesto hastens to add on the end: ‘…oh And a Puppy Room’. She is keen to work in partnership with a charity to train Guide Dogs and provide stress relief through student engagement with puppies.
Marcos is a first year student running for President, his manifesto states that it is the job of other first years to vote for him.
‘As a passionate people’s person I believe that doing what is required by students who look up to you for help or assistance holds primary importance and come before what you think is right for student. As a Presidential candidate for this year’s election, I would like to bring to the notice of my fellow university mates at UoN that I abide by the motto ‘Let actions speak louder than words’ and believe in serving in the best interests of all the students. A President representing their students at the university and being a voice to their concerns should be easily accessible and prioritise issues addressed by students in a timely manner’.
Marcos aims to improve student welfare and the administration side of the Students’ Union. He also wants to improve “social and cultural harmony among students” and “create a friendly aura at the University”. Finally, he wants to make sure the University has more job fairs, placement forums and corporate exhibitions to improve student employment.
Shusha’s manifesto was not accessible at the time this article was posted.
Johnny’s first manifesto point is to seek improvements to the mental health services. He would also like to “increase the range of food for dietary requirements campus wide (gluten/vegan etc.)
He would also like to make some general improvements to the social areas in Portland and push lecturers to receive public workshops to improve the standard of teaching.
Finally, Johnny would like to increase the flexibility of gym memberships and make the initial Freshers’ Address optional.
William presents himself as a voice for the domestic, international and mature student, someone who wants to “make the Students’ Union closer to the student”.
He promises to strengthen the University’s careers service, increase emphasis on internships and spring weeks and provide more resources for students to ensure that they can achieve their perfect graduate job. His manifesto states his focus is on employment not just employability.
Furthermore, he is seeking to implement a new policy of free printing, arguing that students pay £9,000 a year but still only get a few printing credits.
He is also planning to attempt to make the buses into the city centre free for students and is seeking to promote the image of the University by encouraging other universities to have joint events with the University of Nottingham.
He plans to improve communication across the Students’ Union to keep students better informed about events, campaigns and opportunities to engage in the Union.
Finally, he is seeking to improve the night life at Nottingham by making events bigger and better and thereby making the city world renowned for its nightlife. He also wants to create more events for students who do not drink.
Thomas Mees, running under the acronym, ‘YOLO’, told Impact that he is “bored of seeing the same thing every time” during SU elections. “I want to run with what I thought the President should be doing, not making outrageous promises”.
As a result, he has not suggested starting any major projects as he claims that the SU does not have the power to implement them. If elected, YOLO plans to “find out what students want” and work to those goals, rather than doing “what I want to do”.
As stated in his manifesto, YOLO listed his previous experience as a JCR President, Week One representative, Karnival representative, Liberal Democrat policy retractor and Vice Chancellor of University of Nottingham.
In his manifesto, his policies include the Hopper Bus stopping outside every student house in Lenton, replacing Blue Castle with a physical blue castle on campus and inviting Peter Dinklage to be on the SU executive.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
“My slogan ‘Make Your Mark’ is something I’m really passionate about. I want to make sure every student has that opportunity to make their mark during their time at university”.
Rob’s main focus is the Portland Review, and he hopes to develop a performance space and a multifunctional venue for the University “in line with what they have at Nottingham Trent”. He hopes this will allow for “more high profile events on campus”. Within that space, he wants to ease the booking process and reduce competition for rooms between societies, SRS and JCRs.
He feels that his experience as part of a JCR committee, the Karnival Executive, the Societies Exec and as an NUS delegate has given him a “good working knowledge” of the SU, alongside a “good understanding” of people within the Senior Leadership Team, including the staff in the Union. Having spoken to staff members, Rob believes that he understands both the staff and student perspective. “Because I am a student, I understand the issues affecting students. I’m accessing both sides and helping them to meet in the middle”.
Rob wants to ensure that, when students reach graduation, they feel like they have made the most of their time at university. He told Impact: “I have friends in third year, looking at graduating, who are saying ‘I wish I was involved in that society or I wish I’d done this’. One of my biggest aims is to make sure that doesn’t happen and to avoid that element of missing the boat”.
“I’m a regular student, I haven’t been on the NUS committee or massive parts of the SU, but I’m a student who understands what students have issues with and I want to help them with that”.
Having been a part of the Improv Society for all four years of his degree, Harry feels he has “been on the front line of getting stuff done with societies” and that being an Improv teacher has given him “a perspective from the ground up”. He feels that the SU could improve interaction with societies, especially when aiming to solve any problems they might be facing. He told Impact: “I don’t think it’s that well done at the minute”.
Harry’s biggest ambition is to promote two-way communication between the SU and all society presidents. He feels that currently the communication is too one-way, but if he wins, he would like to encourage society presidents to come to meetings and “say to the Activities Officer, ‘this is what I want to talk about’, so that it is more relevant for them”.
His other plans include a renovation of the SU committee website and a reworking of the current points system.
“My standout point is one of competency, a good personality and a keen work ethic”.
Andrew is adamant that the SU should change how the funding for societies works. “There are a number of arbitrary awards and applications that could be minimised,” he told Impact,“I want to make funding far more transparent and enforce a greater level of accountability on the part of the SU”.
Andrew plans to fully engage students in all activities available and to improve the promotion of all societies, saying that “this will maximise the visibility of the societies that fall into the gaps and students don’t even know exist”.
Furthermore, he hopes to ensure that access to societies is pushed to its capabilities. Taking events and societies off University Park Campus to Sutton Bonington and Jubilee Campus, he says, “[will] maximise the visibility of societies and achieve greater access”.
Having been on the committee of the University of Nottingham’s Debating Union for three years, Andrew feels he has the capabilities to prove himself as Activities Officer. Furthermore, he says that involvement in external institutions, such as schools and charities, has provided valuable skills to competently engage with the role.
Andrew emphasised the key point of “delivering a fairer deal for all societies”.
YAKS (YAHYA EL ASMAR)
Having been on the Week One committee this year, Yaks wanted to get more heavily involved in the Students’ Union; Activities Officer was the role he felt he was most suited to.
In relation to Week One, Yaks gained experience working with SU staff and officers to deliver the programme, but claimed that, because this year’s programme was flawed, there was “a great chance to start again and be part of that… to help build more inclusive welcome programme”.
His flagship policy is based around awareness and exposure, “boosting the number of students involved, the main thing is to make the Union more visible”. He lamented that, currently, the only real chance for societies to recruit new members is at ‘Freshers’ Fair’, while ‘Refreshers’ Fair’ is under promoted.
Therefore, Yaks is proposing “more frequent society showcases throughout the year to allow them [societies] to be kept in the spotlight all year round”. He claimed to have been made aware of “strikingly low” figures for involvement in societies at UoN which he described as “awful”. He went on to state: “We are now paying more so should be getting more for our money”.
Yaks would also like to introduce rewards for those who involved in societies to boost their career opportunities and employability. He believes sport clubs receive more support, and that societies should receive a similar level so that members can “further themselves” and take advantage of the diverse skills they acquire.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Priyanka’s manifesto was not accessible at the time this article was posted.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AND WELFARE
“I have massive heart for students and am extremely enthusiastic about engaging with others,” Sarah told Impact.
She intends to increase access to welfare opportunities provided for students. “There is a genuine need for greater transparency of the SU and University of Nottingham as a whole. There are loads of opportunities not recognised by students”.
Sarah highlights mental health opportunities as one area where this could be implemented. She feels the website is not successful in offering what is needed for students. “You have to scroll all the way through the page to get any genuine help. I would put the key points at the top of websites to improve access and awareness”.
Furthermore, Sarah believes that Moodle could be used to better effect through using it as a platform to improve welfare and access to opportunities.
As a Psychology peer mentor, Sarah emphasises her ability to listen to the needs of others and help with the general welfare of her mentees. “I meet up with the students once a fortnight and we chat about the course, housing issues, any trouble they are having and stress. I feel that this has been a valuable experience and you can learn so much from listening to students”.
Further formal experience of Sarah’s includes working as a Week One rep and involvement in Club Outreach, an initiative which provides assistance to students who have troubles on nights out.
Sarah says that she would urge all students to vote. “Look at the manifestos of all those running, take your opportunity to vote for the things you feel passionate about and make a difference,” she encourages.
Through her work on the ‘Nightline’ committee, Alison has seen first hand the effect of the support system on students at university: “I want to expand that to as many students as possible”.
She proposes to expand welfare services by “making sure lots of student groups get covered, the structure of the SU becomes more transparent, publicising workshops and increasing support services on other campuses, international students and postgraduate students”.
Alison also works with the national Nightline organisation on publicity so she believes she would “be able to publicise events and services with the University”.
As a third year Psychology student, she also has experience as a course mentor to first year students, which has provided her with another perspective. The main change Alison would like to make is to improve the training for representatives, such as those on JCR, sports and societies committees receive so that they can speak to those concerned rather than direct them to an external person.
Moreover, she will work to introduce wider appointment times for counselling and an online booking system as well as increasing awareness about issues faced by liberation groups and the services provided to them.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Rob told Impact that this role is “one of the most important roles on the SU Exec. It covers all aspects of the student experience”.
“I think I have the right mentality for the role; a hard working attitude and enthusiasm. The issues – living, courses, time management – are close to my heart, even if they haven’t affected me personally I have experience of what needs changing and I think I’m the right person to implement that change”.
A key point that Rob would like to implement would be “an online form for reporting anti-social, disruptive or harassing behaviour and asking for coursework extension and help with other aspects of your course”.
“This would ensure that you were directed to the right person immediately instead of being passed around from person to person without getting anywhere. These issues are usually quite distressing so getting in touch with the right person first time round is important. The SU has the technical ability to do this so I don’t see why this can’t be pushed through”.
Having been a member of Karnival’s Executive, he has “dealt with the senior SU leadership team and with external companies to raise money for charity”.
“I also have experience with sending students on trips and have a good rapport with the financial office. Personally, I have always enjoyed representing students and making changes on behalf of others. Outside of Karnival, I have been actively involved in sports, running the Sport Relief Mile last year and I have volunteered at the Student Volunteer Centre”.
Adda is the current International Students’ Officer and is running for the position of Equal Opportunities and Welfare. She would like to ‘ensure all students are fairly represented and have an equal say’.
The key points on her manifesto are to ‘create more paid opportunities for students on campus’ and to ‘raise the profile of welfare services and campaigns’.
Adda states she ‘will represent you with transparency, enthusiasm and with a democratic approach’, as well as ‘facilitate an open dialogue between you and the Union’s Services.’
Tom is running for Equal Opportunities and Welfare as he feels the Students’ Union has ‘failed’. His manifesto states that the Union has not succeeded in ‘safeguarding its students physically and psychologically’. He feels the long waiting lists for the counselling services are unacceptable.
His key manifesto points focus on issues of mental health, if elected, Tom would strive to ‘reduce the wait time to access vital mental health times’ and ‘increase cooperation with the welfare reps in halls to promote an open and understanding attitude towards mental health’.
Though Tom isn’t entirely critical of the SU, he praises Nightline as proof that the SU is trying to help the vulnerable amongst the student body, but clearly feels there is much room for improvement.
“When I reached third year, I realised I needed to stop being amongst the whingers and the moaners who make a noise but do nothing about it, and become part of the proactive group instead, inspiring others to get involved”.
Aqeelah’s most prominent manifesto point is to increase the time limit for handing in extenuating circumstance evidence.
Aqeelah admitted to Impact that a lot of the manifestos “have similar points”, but what she believes makes her unique as a candidate is her plan to increase this time limit, having experienced first-hand how the seven day period is not enough. “I’m sure most people have gone through a time where they’ve needed to submit evidence. Last year I had to obtain a death certificate within seven days and it was really stressful for me, not to mention difficult because of the issues surrounding the post mortem”.
Aqeelah also believes her experience with interfaith relations based at Sutton Bonington would help her fulfil her role. She believes that “diversity is not the same on the Sutton Bonington as it is on University Park” and that there is not a lot of interaction between societies on any campus.
Her experience organising a dinner with a ‘unity’ theme for several religious faith societies has inspired her to want to continue this interaction in the future. “It was amazing to see how interactive everyone was with one another and I hope I can continue that”.
“I don’t have a psychology qualification, but I believe that just having those casual conversations with friends and people I know has given me a stronger awareness of mental health issues and how important student welfare is”.
In terms of changing what has been done in the past, Kelly wants to lose the stigma attached to mental health issues, recognising that “mental health problems are so common and so fine”. She believes that students sometimes feel like they do not qualify for help and therefore wants to highlight that “even problems like anxiety are reason enough to seek help” and that the support services offered by the University are actually “really good”.
Her principal focus is on the Welfare in Sport campaign introduced by previous officers. “It isn’t my idea but I am in a cheerleading team and you can imagine the stigma and stereotypes attached to that. For people with anxiety issues, try-outs can be extremely intimidating. That isn’t a criticism, it’s how it has to be, but going to these Welfare in Sportmeetings has made me realise that it is possible for change to happen”.
Kelly believes her first-hand experience of how sports can have an impact on student mental health will help her in her role, she averages ten hours a week of sports and has made many friends through the sports groups. She told Impact: “It’s important for us to provide help when the student is in the sports team, after they’ve pushed through that initial barrier of joining”.
“Education is the most important thing we do. I truly believe that. It is the main reason we come to university, everything else is just a benefit that comes on the side”.
Yasmin Talsi is running for Education Officer and her principal manifesto point involves ensuring that module evaluation times are changed. “When we do module feedback, it’s only improving things for next year, so we don’t get to see the benefit of that”. Yasmin also told Impact: “Currently there’s no way of giving feedback on exams. The only time it’s heard about is if something goes horrifically wrong and we shouldn’t be waiting until that happens to give feedback”.
Yasmin believes her experience as SU BME Officer 2013-14, a school representative for Biosciences Education and the Universitas 21 conference delegate in Vancouver, has helped her gain experience in liaising between staff and students. She understands her role as “representing students’ views to faculty members and senior members of the University”, aiming to get the best possible outcome for the students. She told Impact: “It’s a difficult thing to do – you’re sat there with very intimidating people in suits and you’re trying to represent students the best way you can. But I have experience in that already”.
Yasmin feels that her manifesto is unique because of her approach towards finding out what student leaders really want. “I had lots of meetings with lots of student leaders and built on that. I’ve also drawn on my experience of being a school rep and a sportsperson. I am picking up on my own experience and creating achievable and tangible points”.
Her final message for voters is: “Vote for the individual, not the campaign or the manifesto”.
Serena Kohar is an international student from Indonesia and told Impact: “We’re all here for education, we came all this way for quality”, Serena says.
She believes that positive changes can be made and that education is important but not the only important thing and that the University should have more support for this.
Serena’s three main policy areas are interactivity, resources, and transparency. She intends to make studying more interactive by increasing the number of contact hours, improving the mentoring system and enhancing this system for international students.
“When I arrived I found that the style of work was very different from home and I would have found someone who has gone through it very helpful”.
She wants to implement catch-up clinics which would involve sessions run by postgraduates so that students can engage with others on their course and have a better level of support.
Her second key policy area centres on resources, this would involve implementing an official book exchange website in the style of Amazon. She believes that it would be more efficient and legitimate than Facebook groups. Furthermore, she wants to improve online resources by making recommended reading more available for students. She also wants to have lectures recorded so that if students have to miss a lecture they can catch up easily.
Her third policy area focusses on transparency. She wants to make it clear for students what costs are involved in their degree. “I’ve spoken to medics who didn’t realise that they would have to pay for transport to their placement. These costs for students need to be clearer”.
Robert is a mature student studying Food Science at Sutton Bonington. He is running for Education Officer because he believes it is ‘difficult to make your voice heard in a big organisation like the University’. He told Impact that as a student on Sutton Bonington, he noticed that “education opportunities are not being publicised” and as someone “passionate about my education, I want to work on all the issues I see”.
He states in his manifesto that he stands for collaboration between societies, networks, groups, services, organisations and faculties at university on educational events. Robert has spoken to twenty-two Education reps already, to make sure he fully understands the educational issues present and that, if elected, he will commit to working on. As LGBT Officer for Sutton Bonington after there had not been an Officer the year before, Robert has learnt how to reach out to students and build up a relationship with distant students. He says he will celebrate ‘what makes your department special. Lots of staff go the extra mile to help students, their efforts should be used to inspire others to do the same’.
Robert wants to make resources more available, citing examples such as improving printing. transport and removing hidden course costs. He promises to listen to student issues and maintain a ‘well-publicised list of things that I am approached with and what I am doing to solve them’. Robert told Impact, “when I met with the current Education Officer, I was given the impression that the Officer shouldn’t deal with small issues, but I don’t believe that anything is a small issue. I have documents online with all the issues I am aware of for each course, and though sometimes big issues need to be prioritised, like the recent course closure for Creative Writing, I will listen to all student concerns”.
Ollie’s manifesto was not accessible at the time this article was posted.
“I believe fundamentally that education is a universal right and the fees has been raised to the point where they have become a financial barrier. As Education Officer I believe I can make a change”.
Dan emphasised that he is “completely realistic, I know I can’t lobby to lower the fees but I can lower the barriers to education. In terms of the changing climate of education, the University of Nottingham hasn’t kept up to the degree it should have and I want to change that”.
He told Impact that the he believes that “one of the main barriers to education is the hidden fees of courses, so I want to push for course materials to be covered by the course fees. The majority of students have not had full time jobs and don’t have a lot of savings, so these hidden costs of course materials can cause major issues financially”.
Having spoken to Architecture students, Dan told Impact “I just found out that for one of their modules they have to pay for six compulsory trips to London. These hidden costs should not be there and students should not have to pay for them. A system I would like to see put in place is like the textbook system many will have had at school. The department buys all the books and lends them to students for the year free of charge; at the end of the year they give them back to the department. Students would only be charged if they lost or damaged their textbooks”.
As head of the Nottingham New Theatre for the past year, Dan has had heavy involvement with the SU already. “As such, I know how to manage my expectations for what I can achieve. I also know which channels to apply through and I pride myself on the fact that my manifesto aims are all feasible. I know that they could all be pushed through”.
As a third year Psychology student, Dan has personal experience of seeing the effect being in different tutor and lab groups has on students’ degree classification. This underlying disparity within the same course and different courses is something he wants to make fairer.
He claims that the biggest issue is one of a lack of transparency. He uses the example of prospective applicants not being aware which campus they would be studying on. If elected, Dan would attempt to to make forum posts on Moodle anonymous in order to lessen the stigma of posting and “create a better learning environment”.
He also wants to continue the work of the current Education Officer to bring in lecture recording which is available on some courses in order to level the playing field. He will also help push for academic provisions for societies and SRS as sports teams get support to help manage their degree along with their sporting commitments.
His experience as part of the Week One executive was a “perfect example of working with the SU, seeing [it] go wrong and helping the SU to build it up again to make it more inclusive”. Dan believes a similar model can be adopted, if elected as Education Officer.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Matthew is running for Education Officer because he believes he is the only person who can fulfil the role, rather than just trying to “be a big name on campus”.
As a third year Architecture and Environmental Engineering student, his experience at university has been mixed, while liking the University of Nottingham, the education side has been ‘‘hit and miss, so I don’t want anyone else to have the same experience, I want them to have good experience’’.
Matthew plans to promote alternative learning styles, such as encouraging the use of site visits, research and facilities in teaching rather than only PowerPoints in lectures. He also claims that “lecture recordings should be utilised”.
Having been his course society President for two years, Matthew says he gained experience of getting an idea from start to finish. In his manifesto, Matthew also demands increased feedback on coursework, exams and online portfolios as well as making coursework submissions all online and at the same time. He also proposes a student mentor system.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
A’s manifesto was not accessible at the time this article was posted.
Scott is a member of the Environment and Social Justice Committee and has been working with this year’s Community Officer investigating housing and standards. During the second SU council Scott passed a policy to launch an investigation into an accreditation scheme to set the standards of housing. It was the drive to make this happen and his involvement with the issues that encouraged him to run for Community Officer.
His policies include an SU letting agency to give students a more direct involvement in the housing process and the implementation of a SU blacklist to make students aware of poor quality housing.
Furthermore, he wants to tackle the issue of the Derby hopper bus by investigating whether resources for the Kings Meadow service could be better used.
“I want to offer specific solutions to problems rather than making open promises”, he says
Scott would also like to address the issue of tuition fees and financial security for international students by ensuring fees are fixed so that the fee students pay in their first year is the fee they pay for the remainder of their degree.
He wants to implement a housing scheme similar to those in Edinburgh and Birmingham so that students can have a direct impact on the housing market, he plans to visit Birmingham to observe the system implemented there.
He has sat on the Australia Society committee and has been involved in a number of student campaigns, including UoN Free Education, and feels that he could provide further support to these groups in the role of Community Officer.
“What I want as Community Officer is to focus on something we as students can do to change things in the broader community. I want students to engage with the wider community in Nottingham”.
Sam told Impact he believes the role is a “fantastic opportunity for a fairer community for the citizens and students of Nottingham” and believes that his experience as the President of the Bar Society has helped him to develop proficiency in the advocacy of students.
He believes that the most salient manifesto point for students is his plan to resolve the housing issue. Through a consultation with a broad demographic of students, including student leaders, international students and mature students, he found that “poor quality of housing” and a lack of solutions for complaints made were repeated problems. He therefore proposes a compulsory landlord register where “landlords have to go to the council and register their property”, which in turn has to meet a council-set threshold. He hopes this will “remove the worst cases” of poor student housing.
Sam also asked students to consider his Living Wage campaign and whether “we are content with a situation where, when the University has a surplus of £25 million, some of the people who change our sheets and bins in halls or check out our books in Hallward Library are paid a wage which means they have to take on another job or else live in working poverty”. He believes that this campaign allows the student body to focus on an issue that “should and does matter for students”, allowing us to promote a positive change for the broader Nottingham community.
Luke’s first manifesto point is to ‘establish a Students’ Union owned letting agency’. He would also lobby for a ‘compulsory landlord register in Nottingham’ in order to ‘enforce basic standards in student housing’. He would also like to introduce cycle lanes on Derby Road.
Additionally, Luke sees numerous areas of improvement for JCR and halls. He would to introduce ‘printing facilities in Raleigh, Broadgate and SPC’ as well as cheaper laundry and better internet services to those same off-campus halls. He would also like to see changes to hall food, including a cold breakfast option available early on the weekends and ‘better provision of Halal/Kosher meals in halls’.
Luke has also highlighted areas of improvement that would benefit international students, including the introduction of an ‘international rep on every JCR’; nurses and medics including ‘better housing provisions for nurses on placement’; and those on satellite campuses such as the introduction of an SU Hub to Jubilee Campus.
“I think there are a lot of good things about the SU but they could be done better”.
“I want to celebrate the strengths and take what is already there and improve it. I want to make it more accessible and more available. There is good stuff there but it is hard to find and sometimes too late”.
Stephen wants to particularly focus on the Student Volunteer Centre, as he has “lots of experience travelling in different countries and volunteering and I know how valuable it was to me”.
“I want to get as many students involved in this opportunity, be it at home here in Nottingham or abroad. To push this through I would work with what is already here, I would try and link up with the Archers centre and get students more involved with community work here in Nottingham”.
Stephen is currently the Welfare rep in his hall and states that this helps him know the issues that students are facing in the community. “I’m moving into a house next year so I will also know about those issues as well”.
“Even though I am in first year, I’m not lacking in experience. One of the biggest positives of me being in first year is that I will have to live with the consequences of how I do in the role for the rest of my degree. Whilst the other candidates can just leave once they’ve finished”.
Seb is running for Community Officer because he believes “key issues aren’t up to scratch for some students”.
In relation to his manifesto points on housing and parking, he told Impact: “Personally I have been lucky with housing, but clearly a lot of people lack basic things, for example alarms and security”. He also spoke about the active discrimination by Nottingham City Council towards students as “to a large extent the council does not like students in Lenton”.
Seb also wants to make sure that first year students are made aware of the mental health care available from Week One, as many students “do not know their options”. Furthermore, Seb will attempt to enforce the recently-launched Notts Student Manifesto; “having got the local politicians to agree we need hold them to account”.
In terms of experience, Seb has been on the Politics Society Committee, collaborated on the ‘Big Picture’ on URN and undertaken work experience with MPs. As a result, he believes he is “well versed in local politics”.
Seb realises that the SU will not “get change without going through [external bodies]” and he claims that his public speaking and communication skills will help him “do as well as possible for the University”.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Elliott is running for Postgraduate Officer having spent four years studying at the University of Nottingham and felt the ‘disparity between the Students’ Union and the postgraduate community’.
His manifesto states he is ‘passionate, dedicated and committed to making your S-YOU, truly yours’.
Elliott will implement this change by developing ‘sustainable engaging networks through a more vibrant and interactive community’. He will ‘immerse the SU within the postgraduate community, expand the SU’s presence beyond the Portland Building, offer transparency within the University’s services and events, and inherently engage with undergraduates from day one’.
Elliott seeks to unite undergraduates with postgraduates and empower all postgraduates ‘to get involved more all-year-round’. He will lobby for UoN gym access throughout the summer months for postgraduate students still on campus.
Finally, he will enhance undergraduate and postgraduate learning experiences by ‘encouraging students to explore practical opportunities, promoting international exchanges and providing sufficient resources between faculties’.
Having had eleven years’ experience in academia as a student, a researcher and social justice campaigner, two years as a resident tutor in Jubilee cluster of halls and is in his fourth year of his Civil Engineering PhD, Cyrus feels that it is “time to pay back something to the postgraduate community, so that those in the future should not face the same problems that myself and others have faced”.
Cyrus believes that the “huge problems of postgraduate students are not being addressed and has “a vision to bring their voice back into the union” through the reintroduction of a Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA).
Cyrus hopes that this will bring postgraduates together and help to integrate them with the SU. If elected as Postgraduate Officer, Cyrus will focus on education, welfare and employability through trying to have more convenient times and an increased volume of employability courses.
In addition, Cyrus wishes to introduce mentored focused learning so students can talk to peers in years above them or professors “as the University is taking more and more students, the mentoring aspect is missing from the postgraduate community”. This is linked to his concern that “the mental wellbeing of postgraduates is a big issue”.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Yolanda is Treasurer and Women’s Team Captain of the Table Tennis Club, a sports scholar and has shadowed the Table Tennis Club President for the past year. Through this she understands the importance of a good relationship between students, club committees and the SU.
Her manifesto points include creating a UoN Sport YouTube channel with weekly BUCS match highlights, introduce media secretaries into club committees to advertise matches and events, and involve sports scholars more in inspiring others into sport.
Yolanda will use her existing contacts to introduce national sport schemes to the University to ‘increase the opportunity and engagement of students in sport’.
She also wants to increase the participation of girls in sport, inspired by the recent ‘This girl can’ national campaign. She will also continue the work started by this year’s Sports Officer by expanding the IMS programme and working towards academic provision.
Joe has been heavily involved with sport throughout his time at university, including rugby, American football and cheerleading.
As part of his manifesto, Joe would strive to ‘break stereotypes in sport’ and states that ‘students should not and will not negotiate their welfare due to stereotypes of be alienated from sport because of them’. He would also like to introduce a sport voucher booklet that will allow students to ‘benefit from University Sport Facilities and attend sport-training sessions without financial burden’.
Finally, Joe would introduce the ‘spare bed initiative’, which would give ‘non-University Park based students to attend key training sessions, matches or socials knowing they have a pace to stay the night, within the team, afterwards’.
James is a third year Geography student and believes he is “a great pick for sport.”
James has been involved in sport for three years while at university; playing, organising, and running sports programmes for students. He wants to improve sports structures within the University and get more students involved in sports.
In his first year James was the sports secretary for Willoughby Hall and the NU2 Sports rep. He was also the captain for his hall football team. He has further experience as part of biggest IMS sports programme in the country and as a football activator employed by FA to improve football at university.
His main policies involve implementing a UoN sports app in a move to engage more students in sport across the board and to make sports more accessible. He also wants to get more students involved in coaching having seen the positive impact coaching can have. Furthermore, he wants to introduce a hall and society varsity series. He also wants to make gym memberships more flexible in time for the new sports village opening.
Additionally, James wants to engage in collaborative projects with the SRS to improve and enhance varsity coverage.
For the last two years, Aaron Watts has run the Social Tennis Club as well as being the Lawn Tennis Association development ambassador for the University of Nottingham and on the Sports Executive Committee representing tennis.
Aaron told Impact: “I feel really passionate to help as many people play sport as possible, it is an intrinsic part of student experience and I can’t imagine university without playing sport”.
“I’m hoping to make it easier for postgraduates to play sport, increase opportunities at beginner level and I would like to introduce campus games between the four main campuses”.
Aaron also discussed the centrality of a policy to increase inclusivity and boost participation in sports, as well as outlining his aim to “implement a fair method of facility allocation, which doesn’t leave smaller clubs with restricted allocations”.
He also wants to bring in local coaches for clubs, which has been successfully employed in tennis. In terms of experience, Aaron has also successfully restructured the IMS tennis league to a series of one-day tournaments, which has boosted completion of planned matches to 98% in comparison to the previous 40%.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu
Images: Impact Images Team