News Student Elections

Elections 2016 Live Blog: Wednesday

20:00 – Die Hard 3: With a Vengeance

Campaign videos are great, aren’t they? There’s nothing better than a good montage to get the political juices flowing. Here’s a few videos from candidates that we missed.

Charlotte Hayre, also known as ‘CharStar’, joins fellow VP Societies candidate Luke Brett aboard the Bieber hype train. Hayre and her dance crew boogie all over the SU to ‘Sorry’, but leaves out the weird robotic voice that Brett deployed.

Another VP Societies candidate Aidan Cammies dresses up as the “SocieT-Rex” (great pun), and tries his hand at Dancesport – costume and all.

Finally, VP Sport candidate Toby Lock tries his hand at the boxing montage. While the punches don’t look too hard, they are very swift and nimble. Of course, it’s not about how hard you hit – it’s about how hard you can get hit.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

18:30 – Interview with Milly Dyer

Gair Rhydd sat down with VP Societies candidate Milly Dyer to chat about her campaign.

Dyer believes that her experience of being heavily involved within the SU will be a big asset if she gets the position. She is a Give it a Go Coordinator, a member of the Welcome Crew that helps with Freshers at the start of the year, an ambassador for Careers & Employability and also a President of a society. “Being in the Union you learn what questions people are asking, so I know what problems are”, she said.

She also wants to introduce a Platinum Tier to the current societies tier system, something which has been widely debated by the candidates. Dyer wants to award societies that “show good consistency” and care more about their engagement with students rather than “just ticking boxes, as it is at the moment”. Some rewards will be implemented into Dyer’s model of the Platinum Tier, such as discounts for society events in the Taf.

Dyer also wants an overhaul of the Freshers Fayre, with less commercial stands (but not totally gone), and more stand space given to university societies. She is also looking to send out monthly newsletters as a way of increasing participation, with lists of socials and events for that any students are able to go along to.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

17:00 – Interview with Steffan Bryn

Gair Rhydd sat down with SU President candidate Steffan Bryn. Check out the full interview transcription below.

How have students reacted to the elections?

They’ve been very approachable once you get the barrier down and once you get them to engage. I will say however that it is a shame that there is a reading week as it has definitely had impact on engagement. I’ve been using social media but face to face contact is very important.

Was it a conscious decision not to dress up or use a gimmick?

We are officers to lead the union and this is a serious position of responsibility. As a result I want to be seen seriously.

What makes you different from the other candidates running for SU President?

As a campaign officer I’ve had of contact with the Union but I’m also current student in touch with student body. I think it would be good to have fresh leadership at union and someone with a different perspective- it would be something to be welcomed. Also being a Welsh language speaker is an essential skill as president of the leading SU in Wales.

You’ve been quite vocal as Welsh Officer about your views and the direction the SU should take with its provision of Welsh language. Would you take this forward as president?

That will be a question for Osian Morgan who is standing to be my successor. I’m not ever going not advocate having a full time welsh officer. The need is there and I have advocated this quite clearly in the past two years. However the position is different when you’re President rather than campaign officer because you’re running the whole student body. This year I’ve had to lobby for smaller things and to have the Welsh language policy implemented, including changing the culture of the Union and making it more bilingual. If elected I’ll be in a strong position to change a lot from within.

At some points during the year you’ve conflicted with the Union a little, do you think this is a problem or will you still be able to work well with staff?

No I don’t think so. I’ve come from a different background and I hope people will find this an attractive thing to have a person who hasn’t been institutionalised and through the system and is more in touch with the student body. I’ve also had a lot of experience as campaign officer, and because of the broad remit of the Welsh Language role I’ve had experience representing students at a national level at the national Eisteddfodd. However I make it no secret that there needs to be a culture change in the union, certainly where staff are concerned, and this is very much something I would push through. I would put students first and would lead a strong executive where we hear the voice of not just the full-time officers but also the campaign officers and the liberation campaign. It is important that every decision we make is consulted with the student body. There are some things we need more communication about.

For example, I enjoyed having quite a heated debate in the leaders’ debate on Monday night about breathalyser issue and it showed the need for the student voice to be stronger than the union. At least two sabbatical officers claimed that it was something forced upon union by police but I contacted both the council and the police before the radio debate and found out that it was not enforced but offered as a trial. We had a revelation on Monday night that it was actually staff that made the decision which affects such a great deal of our student body who uses the Students’ Union. Speaking to a number of people on the welfare exec, there are people getting sent away. This is an example of staff not being in touch with the student body, and not having the officers consulted in any way proves that the culture needs to be changed. So coming from a position where I’ve been a campaign officer for two years and a student blends the important parts of both these roles together.

Last year you held the Welsh language referendum. Are referendums something that you would consider using in future to engage with students if you’re elected?

Yeah the referendum was a really exciting time and captured the imagination of students. I think we had some suspicion initially when I proposed the idea with people saying that it wouldn’t interest a lot of students or that the turn out would be little and it may not bind.

However this proved not to be true, and proved that students do care about the SU and what goes on in there and the referendum is a good way of doing that. This would as well as encouraging students to engage directly with the whole executive officer team, including all 15 officers. By webcasting all meetings from the board of trustees to the Senate, I want to show students what’s really going on even if they’re not able, and to create a platform to further influence events.

Plans to give students the living wage have been approved by Student Senate but have not been implemented by the SU. What are your plans to make sure that you’re able to achieve this?

I was at the Senate meeting as a 1st year student and I’m absolutely appalled that this hasn’t been implemented. It shows a need to talk about how the Union needs to be more responsive to the student voice. If this is something that students feel strongly about then it should have been implemented before. It’s an issue of prioritising and I’ve set it out in my manifesto and would be sure to take that forward and by the end of my presidency. I would ensure that the SU is signed up with the Living Wage Foundation who states that the living wage is £8.25 an hour outside of London. There are other members of staff in the SU over 21 who are not payed the living wage and I’m sure we could make some sort of arrangement. It’s clearly something that would affect lots of students and it has benefitted the economy in places where the living wage has been implemented- if students have a bit more money in their pocket they might spend more on union services

Is there one policy that you consider most important?

All of the policies are of course important and I’ve tried to pick them from every level including on a Union, University, national, Cardiff and community level. I think scrapping agency fees is a policy which would make a real difference. It’s been done in Scotland and since we have a new Welsh government in May so we have a real opportunity to lead on campaigns on a national level. This is something that is achievable and that we can do.

What are the biggest problems that students are facing at the moment?

There are numerous issues at the moment and a general attack on students by the UK government, including PREVENT which has put students against students and the scrapping of the maintenance grants which we saw recently. It is the responsibly of the SU to carry on campaigning. There are cuts and financial obstacles on both a broader political, Cardiff and university level. But there are also opportunities and I would be keen to capture new developments such as new Welsh government and the SU’s influence.

Do you think all your policies are achievable?

Big policies can sometimes be a problem with University elections and can be a turn off for students, especially with some policies which I won’t name.

I’ve been mindful of creating achievable policies and I’ve listened to students. All my points can be achieved or progress made within one year. A lot of campaigning aspects in my manifesto won’t cost a lot of money- it’s about being assertive. For example I would lobby the police for greater presence in Cathays and Roath following the dreadful sexual assaults. As a result I would use our collective voice to put pressure on different bodies and make great change. Overall I’m ambitious yet realistic

Any concluding statements?

Every student should consider an alternative and fresh leader at the Union.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

16:15 – Blakeway’s coming for you

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different, voting statistics are the best thing since sliced bread. Ooft, that pie chart though.

Where else can you weigh up who is more politically active than others? Get your head in the game Architecture, Welsh is absolutely destroying you on the voting front.

There’s plenty of time to reach the heights of the 2014 elections, check out the Demographics.

In other election-based news, current SU President Claire Blakeway sent out what could be taken as a slightly threatening email to students, entitled “Tired of these emails?” The only way to make me stop coming after you is to vote (dot, dot, dot scary music).

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 15.56.37

Ok, we might be exaggerating. At least it’s not as outwardly threatening as P Diddy’s ill-advised “Vote or Die” campaign back in 2004.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

15:20 – Interview with Maisie Hillier

Gair Rhydd recently caught up with A Cappella society president and VP Societies candidate Maisie Hillier.

Hillier expressed her unwavering passion for her own society, alongside other societies and the system in general. “The one thing I stand for is making the societies stronger than they already are. There are only around 8000 students involved in societies in Cardiff, and I just want to make the Guild of Societies bigger and better”.

The hope to make societies bigger and better has lead to a controversial policy of the ‘Platinum Tier’, which will be one tier above the current highest Gold Tier. The reasoning behind this, says Hillier, is that the current number of Gold Tier societies is too high, so benefits are being taken away. “By reconstructing it and by adding a Platinum Tier, it encourages societies to achieve better things, but also means that you get to achieve better benefits as you go up.”

Hillier is also keen to stress her desire to not only support the larger societies, but also the more niche, bronze and silver tier societies. “If you’re a Bronze tier society and you want to be Bronze tier, that’s fine,” she added, “As long as they are benefitting their own students and benefitting their own society, I encourage it”.

Society open days are a vocal aspect of Hillier’s manifesto. She said, “I want to give these societies a chance to go out there and show off what they’re doing. They only really have Freshers and Refreshers to really engage with students”. While Freshers is where the majority of people will join a society, Hillier states that certain students are overwhelmed by this aspect of university life at first, and that societies are likely to gain more members by promoting their society further into the academic year: “So many different societies do so many different things and I think there is a society for everyone. ”

A unique aspect of Hillier’s campaign is her focus on the GW4 alliance: usually only seen as a research alliance, the group of Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Exeter universities will be used to strengthen and network societies of similar interests as a way of strengthening and learning from others.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

14:30 – Interview with Toby Lock

Following on from Will Harris’ interview for VP Sports and AU President, we caught up with fellow housemate and American football President Toby Lock.

Despite the constant 8am starts, which as a Religious Studies student comes as a “bit of a surprise”, Lock holds a positive outlook to the elections. For the candidate the week has been “fun” so far, with campaigners banding together to spread their messages as a group.

However, it was noted that as it is currently reading week for eight different schools, “there are definitely less people around and less lectures”. According to Lock this is especially problematic given that “most people campaign via lecture shout outs”, meaning that “you’re missing students out which we don’t want to do.”

During the interview we also discussed the tendency this year to abandon the traditional gimmicks and costumes. Lock praised the move and emphasized that it would be “better if elections are based on manifestos and the person rather than the gimmick.”

Apparently, “there is a pressure to dress up for some people who feel like they’re less well known”. This is particularly true for those who are not current sabbatical officers like Sophie Timbers and Hannah Sterritt.

For Lock, his main aim is “to make sure everything in manifesto realistic and achievable” within a one year period. This is due to the problems caused by projects that are often set up and later abandoned by new sabbatical officers a year later. The candidate explained that this has been a problem for previous years for the American football team, as you “can’t make sure things you begin to set up are carried on.”

Asked about the biggest challenges that student face when joining team, Lock, like Harris emphasized the problems caused by “financial pressures”. According to the candidate this is why many chose to play sports on a social level. In order to tackle this Lock proposes establishing a student loan scheme to make AU teams more affordable to join, citing the expensive kit needed for the Cobras as an example.

Good quality facilities is also imperative for Lock, as he stated that due to factors such as bad weather “far too many matches are called off and it can’t just go unnoticed.” The news comes after the Gair Rhydd sports team criticised the high number of games cancelled within IMG football.

However this is not a problem confined to teams playing on grass. Lock stressed the need to improve facilities for all sports, explaining that basketball courts, kickboxing areas, fencing and netball courts “aren’t what they should be.” He stated: “We are a top sporting facility and should have the facilities to back this up”. With better provisions “it would lead to better teams and more BUCs points”. Lock concluded the interview by emphasizing his desire to improve the Cardiff Team branding, explaining that: “team dynamic is key to functioning well”.


Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

14:00 – It’s a beautiful daaaaaaaaaaaaay

Unlike the weather we’re used to, Cardiff is looking rather sunny today. Perfect for a spot of campaigning watching.

We sent our reporters around campus to check on how candidates are doing.

When not on the campaign trail, Students with Disabilities Officer candidate Charlie Knights is a model for Hollister.


SU President candidate Alex White takes a break from her superhero duties to have lunch with the cast of Free Willy.


Hmmm yes, we also enjoyed flyers plastered on every nook and cranny around campus. It really stimulates the brain cells.


Remember to pick up a copy of Gair Rhydd – complete with a pullout of all the candidate manifestos!


Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

13:25 – Interview with Will Harris

As one of the most hotly contended roles this year, the position of AU President and VP Sports has eight candidates. Gair Rhydd caught up with candidate Will Harris.

Asked about the main preconceptions that students have about sports, Harris explained that many people think that “you’ll only be welcome if you’re good at the sport.” This includes his own experience in the American football Cobras team, where people think you need to be “a big chap” to play. Despite this the candidate explained that they had their first girl join them last year who “got loads out of it”.

According to Harris: “people of all shapes and sizes can benefit from sport in lots of ways.”

During the interview, the candidate also stressed that cost is another barrier preventing student participation, especially given the impending cuts to maintenance grants last year. Despite stating that he is “a realist”, and understands that the “money has to come from somewhere”, Harris hopes to cut prices by getting more sponsorship if elected.

Another issue for Harris is that of lectures on Wednesdays, meaning that those involved in sports often miss “one module’s worth of work.” Is a problem caused by “lazy timetabling”, the candidate explained that the issue is “totally preventable” and plans to stop it have received a positive response. Talking to the candidate it become clear that he has a lot of experience with desk-based work as well as being part of a team. This comes from working within the AU Executive team, a job which involves working with budgets and previously helping with the BUCS “this girl can campaign”.

In a more unique perspective, Harris believes that “equality is not necessarily fairness” when it comes to sports team and that “some sports are a lot more expensive than others”. In Harris’s manifesto, the candidate pledges to enrol IMG within the AU, a practice which was discontinued in back in 2007.

Recently a Gair Rhydd sports investigations by the sports team revealed that despite this rugby games continued last year without backing, a move which led current VP Sam Parsons to confirm that he would not include the sport within IMG. However, Harris is confident that he can change this by using either of two methods. The first option would include IMG rugby players signing up with AU, with the subsequent funding going towards post protectors and subsidies for referees and first aiders. The second and simpler option would include hiring the City Arms Park every month to hold a round-robin competition, with the winners going through to a play-off tournament at the end. Harris stressed that with 10 teams playing 20 minute matches, it would be a more relaxed and run opportunity.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

12:25 – Nadine’s dank memes

Are you running for a position of power? Want to show the kids how hip and in touch you are? Then I have the solution for you – memes!

Yes, it has come to GR’s attention that last night SU President candidate Nadine Dahan and her cavalry decided that memes are the way to take her campaign forward.

Yuck, it’s reminiscent of Hillary’s recent foray into becoming a living meme.

Alas, not everyone can join in on the meme action.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

11:45 – Interview with Jack Bairstow

Gair Rhydd caught up with VP Sports and AU President candidate Jack Bairstow.

One of the main aspect that Bairstow emphasised was his difference in background from the other candidates. While other candidates come from more of the playing background, Bairstow has multiple years of experience as both a coach and manager in the men’s rugby club.

When talking about his manifesto, Bairstow explained that having his three main policies means that his campaign is very “identifiable”. When explaining the ’50-50 funding scheme’, he stated, “I think a lot of clubs feel they are undervalued or not appreciated by the university. The 5th and 6th Netball teams are coached by students, a lot of the Hockey teams are coached by students – they want the support and funding to get coaches in and that could potentially not be viable with all the cuts going on. So, the 50-50 funding scheme opens doors to people in the club already that are ready – but might not realise it – to start coaching. They can get that funding, that backing and that experience whilst at university. That’s something that will open doors for them in the future.”

This scheme would have a knock-on effect not only for students’ future, but the clubs as well: “It’s great for personal development, but you have to think of how many games get called off from not having first aid cover or a referee,” he continued, “Getting clubs to have those internally, it’s makes them a lot more self-sustainable.”

Bairstow will also be looking to give clubs, whether large or small, a lot more coverage for the activities that are not strictly competitive. Using the examples of the golf club’s weekly trip to a driving range, or the cycling club’s biking trips to scenic parts of the country, he hoped to encourage participation not just on a competitive level.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

11:25 – Interview with Bayan Mohajeri Thaker

Gair Rhydd caught up with Bayan Mohajeri Thaker running for VP Education.

Reflecting on the campaign so far, Thaker noted that the elections appear “more serious this year” with more emphasis given to policies rather than costume. Given you “approach people the right way”, the candidate noted that people are willing to stop and chat.

Like other candidates, Thaker explained that with eight schools current on break due to reading week, there is a need to use social media to “tap into your networks and friends who are in those departments”. In his manifesto, Thaker has avoided using “vague” points such as “developing relations with staff”, citing that such aims are expected of a VP Education anyway. He also explained that whilst many people chose to include policies that “make them look good” and can be instantly implemented, he would also work to lay the groundwork for larger ongoing projects.

As a result his policies include detailed plans for a variety of ideas, including the creation of a “safety bus” to allow students to return home safely after studying late in the library. He explained: “With recent events a lot of people have said that they would leave library early with other friends.” To combat this, Thacker would create a proposed route for the bus including two mile including both Talybont and the Cathays more generally. For the candidate, the SU “shouldn’t put price on safety”, stressing that there are various avenues for funding the project including external sponsorships.

In his manifesto the candidate also proposed installing an “anonymous tutor feedback system” allowing students to voice their concerns without worrying “that they might be treated differently for speaking out”. With such a system in place, it was suggested that issues such as inadequate pastoral care and support with personal problems might be overcome. However, it was also stressed that this would not simply become a way to “attack tutors.”

For Bayan, the biggest obstacle to overcome in the world of education is “departmental inequality” between different schools and the unequal distribution of resources such as electronic timetables. “The systems are in place we’re just not using them”, he emphasized. Although he is not a representative for the Chemistry school, Thacker maintained that he still has connections with staff and students from multiple schools having worked for both CARBS and CPLAN.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!

10:00 – Welcome back – it’s day 3!

Good morning and welcome to the third day of campaign coverage of this year’s Cardiff Students’ Union.

Gair Rhydd will be talking to many of the candidates running for various positions today. While we’ve been quite office-bound for the first two days, the Gair Rhydd team will be out and about around campus talking to candidates and students on the street to get their take of the week’s events.

If you want to look back at all of our coverage of the last two days, check out our live blogs from Tuesday and Monday.

Voting takes no time at all, and can be done from any electronic device. Just follow this link to cast your vote.

Get involved on social media by tweeting us @gairrhydd, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU to have your say on this week’s events!