News Student Elections 2016

Full-time Officer candidates scrutinised

Question Time

Students’ Union President – 6 candidates

The most contested role during the elections will be the position of SU President. With six competitors campaigning there will be fierce competition to gain the title, with the successful candidate taking responsibility for representing the Students’ Union and supporting the six other full-time VPs.

Running for the position of SU President, Alexandra White has promised to improve online resources and put lectures online, in what appears to be a follow up to previous decisions made to encourage lecture recording. During the latest Student Senate meeting, it was decided that the campaign to record all lectures would be renewed.

To create a safer Cardiff, White suggests that a “pee-in-a-cup day” be introduced on a monthly basis, in addition to a night bus providing students with transport home late at night. Previously Cardiff Students’ Union established a “safety bus scheme” back in 2011, which identified “vulnerable” students and took them home to prevent assault and robbery.

Nadine Dahan promises to scrap printing costs and ambitiously proposes that library fines be eradicated.

In terms of welfare issues, Dahan like many other candidates stresses the importance of improving support for those suffering from mental health issues, including tackling waiting times.

Dahan also promises to support national campaigns for post-study work visas for international students. Other policies include diversifying the curriculum in university and improving prayer rooms around campus.

Current Welsh Officer Steffan Bryn is also running for the position of President.

In his campaign, Bryn states that he will work to scrap breathalysing tests in place at the Students’ Union whilst promoting sensible drinking. Currently Cardiff SU is part of a trial scheme implemented by South Wales Police in a bid to prevent students from “preloading” or pre-drinking. However, it has since been confirmed by Union officials that breathalysing students forms only part of tests to allow entrance, and is exclusively used on students perceived to be too drunk.

In addition, Bryn also proposes to pay student-staff the living wage. The news comes despite an investigation by Gair Rhydd that found that the SU is “unlikely” to pay its students under-25 year old the living wage. This is despite previous decisions made by the Student Senate to lobby for higher wages for student staff.

Meanwhile, VP Societies Hannah Sterritt has promised to change the name of Wednesday night club night YOLO. Previously named the Lash, the change to YOLO has attracted criticism from students over the last two years. Sterritt also promises to introduce a guest speaker series at the SU, in addition to the guest lectures already hosted by the University.

As part of calls made by many candidates to improve accessibility to sports matches and facilities on a Wednesday, if elected Sterritt will campaign for free Wednesday afternoons for postgraduate students.

Following a Gair Rhydd investigation criticising IMG football for cancelling numerous games, Sterritt’s campaign calls to restructure the league to include poor weather contingency plans.

Meanwhile, current VP Education Sophie Timbers’ manifesto pledges to create major changes to infrastructure in the Students’ Union, promising to install a pharmacy and supermarket. This comes despite promising to replace Blackwells with an Amazon pick-up spot in her campaigns for her current role as VP Education.

In an ambitious move, Timbers also promises to lobby for a train station at Talybont halls of residences.

Like White, Timber would organise a free night bus from the Students’ Union to stops in Cathays and Halls of Residence.

Unlike many candidates, the current VP Education also included plans for the development of Welsh language provisions in her manifesto, stating that she will implmenent a university-wide strategy.

For Sebastian Robyns-Landricombe, the role of President is to create a Students’ Union that “fights for the rights of its students.” Having cited issues such as the high cost of childcare at University premises and the SU’s refusal to pay a living wage to student workers, Robyns promises to ensure that the Union does not “place profits against students”. He concluded that it should be a body of students fighting for students.

During Question Time, candidates were quizzed on a number of issues including the SU’s participation in South Wales Police’s breathalysing scheme and whether the high costs of NUS membership is justified.


Vice President Education – 7 candidates

At Question Time Megan Cook stated that if elected she would develop Speak Week to create awareness and promote suggestions for improvement for students. By using social media and Twitter Cook suggested that she would be able to maintain contact with students, Her top priorty lies with lobbying for personalised exam feedback, a policy also included in the current VP Education’s manifesto.

For Jenna Crocombe the answer lies with making use of course-based societies and liaising with VP for Heath and Postgraduates. Her biggest priority if elected will be to appear approachable and successful and to improve online facilities, which would include online-only submission and electronic timetables.

Meanwhile, Mo Hanafy stated that he will ensure that decisions for some schools will not adversely affect others. By using social media, regular emails and spending lunchtimes in Y Plas, Hanafy hopes to improve student input and develop a new app Sims, Cardiff Intranet and library facilities.

For Katie Meechan, her top priority rests with cutting course costs if elected for the role of VP Education, including providing printing credits. Such needs were also included on current VP Education’s manifesto during last year’s campaign week, as Timbers promised to “tackle hidden course cuts”. Like other candidates, Meechan stressed the importance of using technology to interact with students and creating an electronic platform to discuss ideas.

Continuing the work of sabbatical officers this year, Bayan Mohajeri Thacker demands that the ASSL Library remain open 24 hours a day after the end of the trail period in June, accompanied with a security bus to ensure students return safely after studying. In the past the price of keeping the ASSL open 24 hours a day has been a subject of concern for sabbatical officers. Mohajeri has also called for anonymous feedback scheme from personal tutors and the release of average assessment and exams marks for each academic year.

Following on from this, Lakota Hardwick promises to ensure that students receive the best value for money from their course and are provided with consistently high teaching standards to make the most of “Cardiff’s reputation.” According to the candidate, this will be achieved by making study spaces more “accessible”, especially at the Heath park campus, and improving the existing student rep system in place.

For Alyza Taylor the main priority for VP Education is to improve the services available for joint honour students, in response to issues such as timetable clashes. In addition to this, Taylor will campaign for more investment in technology, including online seminar signup, and promote the University’s employability services.

Vice President Welfare – 8 candidates

For current Ethical and Environmental Officer Daniel Tucker, the priorities of VP Welfare lie with creating a “safe, inclusive, bilingual Union”, including preventing “hateful, shaming or other exclusionary speech.”

Meanwhile, if elected Hollie Cooke would create a well-being committee to represent all student groups including Welsh speakers. Cooke’s manifesto also draws attention to the current problems surrounding the sexual health clinic, including its limited opening hours and the current lack of budget allocated specifically to welfare needs.

For Mads Page, the Students’ Union does not provide enough support services and as such will fight to deal with this problem. During Question Time, Page also noted that laptops for dyslexic students can sometimes take up to a year to arrive. When talking about housing, she concluded that as Cardiff boasts more houses than students, she would dispel rumours that houses fill up before Christmas.

Taking a different approach to other candidates, Jake Smith stressed the need for the VP Welfare to provide a better welcome to Freshers, including arranging more non-alcoholic events such as film nights. Smith also took a harsh line towards bad students landlords suggesting that the Union take a “name and shame approach”. Speaking of the 2017 Cardiff Council elections, he stressed that student housing and well-being be made the centre of attention.

For Claire Brosnan, issues to be tackled include lobbying the University to increase the financial contingency fund, increasing the opening hours for the sexual health clinic in Park Place, and fostering more religious support for students including those participating in Ramadan.

For Matthew Procter, priorities during campaign week will include emphasising the problems surrounding housing and health. Like other candidates this includes campaigning to ban letting agency fees, whilst also lobbying to allow students to register with two doctors.

By contrast, in Sarah Hopkins-Weaver’s manifesto the focus lies on making use of student mentoring system and extending the existing Welcome Crew during Freshers Week. In order to support student she also suggests creating “calm spaces” within the Students’ Union to encourage mindfulness.

In her manifesto, current Womens’ Officer Rachael Melhuish promises to focus on problems surrounding finance for students and to “stand strong” against government cuts. At Question Time Melhuish noted that it currently costs £250 for students to take a dyslexia tests, a price which she labelled as “ridiculous” .

Jonathan Crisp will also run for VP Welfare but is yet to release a manifesto.

Vice President Societies – 7 candidates

When asked at Question Time whether a cap should be introduced to limit the number of societies, general consensus ruled that such a move would “exclude passion” and “stifle creativity”, arguing in the case of Charlotte Hayre that more societies can only mean more investment into the SU through guild fees.

However, Millie Dyer admitted that such action might need to be taken in ten years time, whilst Maisie Hillier stated that a cap is necessary given that “there isn’t infinite funding”.

Meanwhile Usman Mahmood Bukhari took a more compromised stance, arguing that there “should be barriers but not a cap” allowing societies to exist if there is significant support for it.

The Question Time event also saw candidates quizzed about the existing tier structure and whether all societies should aim for gold level. Responses included revising the classifications and tier system by Bukhari, and the need for society committee members to do what they feel is best by Luke Brett. According to Joseph Rumming, the tier system risks creating “unhealthy competition” and proposed removing the awards given to those at the top level to avoid this.

When asked what their priorities would be if elected for VP Societies, Maisie Hillier proposed creating “stronger societies, improving leadership training and collaberating with societies from other universities.” This includes utilising Cardiff’s existing relationship with USW.

Charlotte Hayre noted the need to increaser membership, explaining that “people don’t know what’s out there”. She suggested creating a simplified online societies timetable and “buzfeed style quiz”, in order to allow people to find out what they would be interested in joining.

Aidan Cammies suggested creating videos promoting societies’ activities on a weekly basis. He also pledges to create a scheme helping societies to obtain sponsorhip, including creating networking events.

Meanwhile, Brett explained that he would introduce a ‘wife-swap’ style feature encouraging students to try a different society for a day. This is addition to increasing publicity for societies and continuing the pre-existing Give it a Go scheme.

If elected, Joe Rumming explained hat he would “overhaul the tier system” and encourage students to “love societies again”.

His other policies include getting better adverstising for societies and improving communication between groups and the SU.

Rumming was followed by Dyer ,who explained that her aim would be to inspire the 20,000 students currently not part of societies. In a more unique move she will campaign to promote a buget travel agent with Give it a Go.

Rounding up the Society candidates scrutiny, Bukhari stressed that he would “streamline the SU webpage”, introduce more quizzes and reverse the classifications system.

Vice President Postgrad – 6 candidates

In Question Time, focus rested primarily on the need to intergrate postgraduate students within the wider university community. Talk also moved to the suggestions of creating scholarships for international research students, with all candidates agreeing that such a move would improve the standard of work within the university.

First to be questioned was Joshua Headington, who stated that “no-one within uni should feel alienated.” In order to combat this issue, the candidate proposed creating a systems whereby communication can be better integrated through the use of strategies such as emails. Headington also chose to talk about the welfare needs of Postgraduate research students, stressing that solidarity needs to be built with other unions. Asked about his main priority, he concluded that he would bring both university schools and unions together to take direct action on behalf of students.

Next to be questioned was Matthew Jenkins, who noted the need to introduce essay writing training for students returning to Masters programmes and create more cultural and arts events to appeal to all postgrad students. For Jenkins the biggest problem for current for postgraduate teaching staff lies with the lack of standardised pay and contracts across all schools, and proposes to fix this accordingly.

Meanwhile Alexander Kuklenko pledged to increase the number of postgrad events, create opportunities to meet with current undergraduates and ensure that drop-in sessions for postgrads are readily available. In the same vein as Jenkins, he stressed the need to obtain fair pay for PG tutors, with regular opportunities to discuss how current PhD programmes can be improved

For Subhra Mukherjee, the future VP Postgrad Officer should ensure that there are more cultural events on offer, in order to increase more “avenues for interaction”. In addition she would also create job fairs and careers fairs for postgraduates to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available after university. Although she doesn’t mention any specific campaign points in her manifesto she cites the need to be a good leader and listener.

Like other candidates, at Question Time Samuel Murray also stressed the need to improve the current postgrad social programme and include daytime events with university schools and representatives. The finance system for paying postgraduates was also critique as he stated that departments are “slow to pay” and are need of structure timeframes.

During the event, Murray noted that international postgrad students are required to pay £500 to apply for a visa, and as such would address the way in which non-EU citizens are treated.

Vice President Sports, AU President – 8 candidates

As VP Sports, the successful candidate will be responsible forsupporting members of participation sports and performance sports. In Question Time candidates were scrutinised about their ability to balance the needs of both groups as well as the pressure of ensuring that all cubs acquire appropriate funding.

If elected the role of VP Sport, Jack Bairstow would instate a 50:50 funding system for teams allowing members to gain qualifications and individual development in skills such as coaching and first aid. Other priorities include improving the coverage given to all clubs to increase membership

Meanwhile, Emma Fitzpatrick pledged to support sport club committees, citing that they are essential to helping teams run successfully. During Question Time she also noted the importance of encouraging self sufficient teams through activities such as fundraising.

For Toby Lock, importance lay with creating a universal Team Cardiff bringing all clubs together in terms of committees and joint socials. According to Lock if elected he would seek to create one-on-one communication with individual teams in order to ensure that each clubs get what they want from the Athletic Union.

Like Fitzgerald, funding remains a high concern from Will Harris as he told the audience that VP Sports should try and acquire sponsorships for teams. However, he also mentioned his plans to enrol IMG rugby within the AU and ensure that lectures don’t go ahead on Wednesday afternoons.

During Question Time, the alleged barrier between VP Sport and the Athletic Union was stated as a main issue to overcome for Elin Harding. Other policies include creating an online booking system for pitch hire and improving facilities such as lighting.

For Alisa Macpherson increasing participation in sport remains key, whether at a competitive or causal level. Her other ideas include organising internal coaching and referee programs and creating refresher committee training to ensure a good standard of work all year.

In Beth Stafford’s manifesto she pledges developing existing teams within the IMG league and offering a wider range of sports. Like other candidates Stafford wants to increase student participation, and encourage more clubs to enter BUCS. The candidate also mentioned that all scores for Team Cardiff sports should be published online and in Gair Rhydd, although the BUCS league already features every week.

For Daniel Nash, promoting “high performance in sport” is a key part of his manifesto alongside “gaining equality between all clubs”. For Nash this means treating all teams the same, and preventing the Rugby club from receiving undue attention after criticising the paid role of rugby development officer.

Vice President Heath Park – 2 candidates

With only two candidates running for the position of VP Heath, the sabbatical role will see the least competition of all full-time roles.

During Question Time, nursing student Tim Nagle stressed the need to advertise the services provided at the Heath.

Explaining his experience at dealing with conflict, Nagle stated that both his previous work within retail therapy and dealing with patients and doctors during his degree has taught him how to deal with problems.

Nagle noted that if elected he would seek to involve students at placements and those located outside the Heath. In addition he would engage with Welsh Government policies and lobby against any future cuts to health funding.

His manifesto includes pledges to spend as much time at possible at the Heath and to increase opening hours and access to student support. Nagle also pledges to encourage more provisions for Welsh speakers especially for those who want to have clinical learning in Welsh.

As many enrolled on healthcare courses start university as mature students, the candidate will lobby for more family friendly events for those with children.

Meanwhile, Niko Holmes stated that Heath students need to feel comfortable at Park Place, and vice versa, and to improve the support services available. This follows after a Gair Rhydd investigation criticised the lack of accessibility for the facilities at Cardigan House.

Holmes affirmed that as a health student and president of the Dance Sports society, he is confident he will be able to overcome difficulties and solve problems. At the hustings event he confirmed that he would ensure students know what services are available and how to use them.

His manifesto pledges to increase the size of the Heath Fayre in order to involve more societies in addition to health-care centred clubs. In addition he will provide support to students on placement including ensuring greater transparency on the costs that students will and won’t have to pay.

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