By Sam Tilley
The candidates on Tuesday were vying for the positions of Vice President Societies, Welfare, Heath Park and Education and the BME, Environmental, Disabilities, Mental Health and Welsh Language Officers. The turnout for the event was strong and, with 58 candidates in total for all positions, the evening was long but highly informative.
The format of the event was somewhat similar to BBC’s Question Time with each candidate being given 20 seconds to introduce themselves and their three top policies. There were five pre-prepared questions and all candidates had to answer two of the five; the order in which they answered being established by a random-number generator. Each candidate was then given 30 seconds to reply to each of the questions. A question from the audience was then selected and, again, candidates were given 30 seconds to reply.
The two candidates for BME Officer both chose to answer the question regarding reducing stigma around speaking about race. Both suggested a more open dialogue between students, including the establishing of certain “safe spaces” where race could be discussed. Other issues discussed included microaggressions towards race and institutional racism. Although there were five candidates for Environmental Officer, only two appeared to answer questions. Nevertheless, some highly important issues were brought up including single-use plastics, food waste and vegan options at Y Plas. Again, both candidates chose to answer the same questions, questioning the ways in which the SU can implement energy saving measures and how student support should be mobilised.
Only one candidate stood for the position of Welsh Officer who made sure to impress upon the audience the steps that the Welsh language has taken in recent years. Despite this, he argued that more should be done to increase visibility of the language.
Again, only one candidate spoke for the role of Mental Health Officer although three have been nominated. Despite this, one of the absent candidates submitted answers to the pre-selected questions. Both candidates argued for greater mental health awareness and training as well as more services being in place to support students. There were no candidates at the event who had put themselves forward for the role of Disabilities Officer.
The most applied-for position, VP Education, featured a large range of answers on topics as diverse as increasing student feedback to supporting postgraduate students who teach. The thirteen candidates who had put themselves forward also discussed improving teaching standards and the personal tutor system.
The contenders for VP Welfare spoke about involving more campaign officers in student campaigns and the stark divides between the Heath Park campus and Cathays. The latter became a recurring theme during the evening as candidates applying for all positions.
During the questions for VP Society hopefuls, a lot was made of the new society tier structure being unfair and it’s shortcomings. Most of the candidates agreed that it wasn’t working although most did not suggest a replacement.
The candidate for VP Heath Park Campus spoke about the need for greater communication between students on placement years and the student union.
The Student Elections take place from Monday 25th February until Friday 1st March.