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Elections 2017: Day Four

End of Day 4!

Bit of a late finish in the Gair Rhydd office, and still a lot more work to do! Just two more days until we find out who will be running our students’ union next year and we couldn’t be more excited.

Be sure to cast your vote before tomorrow at 5pm.

Follow us on twitter (@gairrhydd) and use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU for the latest updates.

9:00pm – Bad singing, awful dancing: it must be a candidate video!

Bless Annabel “Incredibel” Jardine-Blake! She has made a parody of Sia’s Cheap Thrills that embodies the traditional candidate video qualities. All singing, all dancing!

“Walk into Y Plas like ‘Oh no I’ve sobered up!” – too relatable from Seb Walkers crisps.

We’re genuinely impressed with Chiron ‘Genie’ Hooson’s video! They choreographed a dance routine and all! Very cheesy but full of fun.

Evon Chin has taken a straight forward approach, telling it like it is.

Tom Kelly shows off his skating prowess in his bid for VP Sport.

Could he fix your broken drain? Probably not. Jamie Plumb the ‘Super Plumber’ talks about his manifesto.

Have you made a video for your campaign? Send it to us at editor@gairrhydd.com!

Interview with Holly Jones, VP Welfare candidate

“One in four people suffer from mental health issues and this equates to 8,000 students at Cardiff University.”

Gair Rhydd were lucky enough find Holly Jones yesterday morning and have a chat about her campaign. The “Where’s Holly” candidate is running in an attempt to become Vice President Welfare and she appears to be enjoying the experience so far.

Holly told us that she has “thoroughly enjoyed” campaigning so far. She admitted that she was absolutely dreading lecture shout-outs, but she has been pleasantly surprised about how enjoyable they have been. Win or lose, Holly believes that campaigning has made her “a better person” and she’s happy to have made many friends along the way.

Some candidates have been disappointed with the responsiveness of students but Holly claims that she has yet to encounter this problem. “I haven’t met anybody that has been too busy to talk which is really nice.” Holly does understand that some students don’t have the time to stop and have a discussion so she counters this by giving them a flyer outlining her key policies.

Although Holly is dressed as “Where’s Holly” she promises that she won’t hiding from anybody. “I want people to actually find me and ask me questions.” Holly isn’t a fan of candidates that get friends to hand out flyers on their behalf, preferring to “do the job myself so that everybody can get to know me personally.”

In terms of policy, Holly tells us that her main aim as VP Welfare would be to combat the stigma that is associated with mental health. Holly claims that “personal tutors are not well educated in how to respond to students that are suffering with mental health problems.” She believes that it is essential that this improved because “One in four people suffer from mental health issues and this equates to 8,000 students at Cardiff University.” Holly wants to increase funding for the counselling and wellbeing services to ensure the necessary support options are available for students that are suffering.

At this year’s AGM a motion was passed which created a new position – Mental Health Officer. Holly is very happy with this and it shows that the university is taking the issues very seriously. She was also very keen to emphasise that she would “definitely be keen to work alongside the officer if she is elected.”

The race to become VP Welfare is a tightly contested one with six candidates’ names in the hat. Holly told us as a member of the Cardiff University Netball Club, she is the only candidate that comes from a sporting background and believes this could be an advantage.

You can find Holly around campus and read her manifesto in this week’s edition of Gair Rhydd.

By Adam George

Interview with Jamie Plumb, Mental Health Officer candidate

“Only a fifth of the student population actually vote, so I guess more can be done in that sense to encourage people to vote.”

Gair Rhydd yesterday met with Jamie Plumb, one of the candidates running for the voluntary role of Mental Health Officer. The Mental Health Officer, when elected, will be responsible for representing the interests of students suffering from mental health conditions, and all associated issues. They are responsible for campaigning on relevant issues regarding both mental health, and the mental health facilities available at both Union, and University level.

Regarding the somewhat sensitive, and personal nature of the role Jamie has been running for, his campaign has to an extent seen him take a light-hearted approach, with Jamie dressing up as video-game plumber Super Mario while engaging with students to raise awareness for the role.

Speaking of the campaign thus far, Jamie told Gair Rhydd, “Campaigning so far has been great. I think have a good theme going on, the concept of using the Mario costume, the super plumber theme, everyone gets the joke and finds it funny. Obviously mental health is quite an emotive topic, it’s quite touchy, and so I think just talking about it with people is good in itself, it raises the awareness of it.

“A lot of people don’t seem to know that Mental Health Officer is a role, it’s a brand new role, it’s a part time voluntary role, so people have shown an interest in it, and been asking a lot of questions. Generally campaigning has been really good.”

Jamie’s manifesto is largely built around improving the mental health facilities available at the University, with his policy to improve waiting times [for access to mental health facilities], and his campaign to get more staff trained in mental health being garnering particularly positive response.
However, while these particular policies have proved popular, Jamie said that, as with anything, the overall responsible had been mixed.

“A lot of people, particularly when I was at the Heath campus yesterday (Tuesday) were really engaging, asking a lot of questions, and that’s the kind of people we should really be targeting, and encouraging more of.

“Overall it’s (the campaign) been really mixed. Only a fifth of the student population actually vote, so I guess more can be done in that sense to encourage people to vote. As long as you read people’s manifestos, and vote. That is something I’ve been encouraging as well. It’s not just about saying vote for me, I’m the best. It’s about encouraging a democratic vote for everyone.”

Indeed, as with many of the candidates across all categories of the election, Jamie has been utilising social media to try and not only further his cause, but to also help encourage participation.

“Its a multimedia approach, tackling things from different dimensions. Social media is the platform I’m going for at the moment. I’ve got a page, I’ve been posting a lot of videos and just trying to encourage my friends to share things so it reaches people I don’t know, and especially the people that say they wouldn’t usually vote.”

Jamie was also keen to praise his rivals in the election, saying, “I think ultimately all of the candidates for Mental Health Officer are great candidates, I’ve heard them talk, I’ve spoken to them on a personal level, and our manifestos all really echo each other in some sense.”

However despite such praise, Jamie was quick to point out what set him aside from the other candidates, passionately exclaiming, “Mental health is part of my life, I want to work in mental health, I want to work with people with mental health issues. I have so much drive when it comes to raising awareness for mental health issues. I am always trying to highlight things in the news regarding mental health, its what I do. Mental health is like second nature too me.

“Mental Health Officer is a brand new, part-time voluntary role. I think want motivates us, and me particularly to go for this role, is not money because there is no money involved in it, but it is purely passion, and helping students. Please do go and vote and have a say because we have an effect on what goes on at the university, and you as students are a part of the university, and what we do may effect you!”

You can catch Aidan around campus and read his manifesto in this week’s edition of Gair Rhydd.

By Harry Webster

Interview with Aidan Cammies, VP Societies candidate

“Generally people have been really receptive, really positive and have given us time to talk, which has been really nice.”

On Wednesday afternoon Gair Rhydd spoke to Aidan Cammies, or Aidan Cammemes as he is running as, who is campaigning to become your Vice President Societies. Six candidates are running for the position of VP societies this year. The role is an important one as the winner will be responsible for allocating budgets to our societies and also represent the views of society members.

We asked Aidan how he has found campaigning so far and he told us that he “hasn’t really had time to stop and think about it.” This is his second year on the campaign trail and he believes that last year he only had around nine hours sleep for the whole week. He has learnt his lesson this time around and said “I’m making sure to get regular sleep this time around.”

He has been pleasantly surprised about the level of responsiveness from students. Aidan was worried about “interrupting people” during this busy time of year. However, he told us that people had been “incredibly receptive”, notably at the Heath on Tuesday. Aidan was one of only seven that made the long trip up to the Heath to talk to students and he believes that the long walk in the rain definitely paid off.

We asked Aidan about his use of memes, a very individual strategy that he has been using this week. He told us that the memes are an “engagement technique to get people smiling and gain their attention.” Despite this humorous approach Aidan assures that he is “very passionate” about the role and is taking this incredibly seriously. He believes that running last year has given him a bit of an advantage because he is feeling “more prepared” but he said there is “no chance of me getting complacent.”

Aidan’s main policy is to do with the way in which societies gain their sponsorship money. He discussed the “drastic cutting” of the budgets available to societies and his plans to counteract this. “I want to create a page on the SU website where companies can put their names to say that they are looking for societies to sponsor” he told Gair Rhydd. He has discussed this proposal with the sponsorship and marketing teams who have told him that they have no problems with this idea. He also believes that these sponsorships would offer students “networking opportunities”, especially for course-based societies.

We asked Aidan if there was anything that sets him apart from the other candidates and he believes that there is. “It’s difficult to find anybody that has been involved with as many societies than I have.” He reeled off an impressive list of past positions he has held on the societies scene, including President of ComSci, social-secretary of Baking and my personal favourite, dressing up as the dragon on open days.

He is aware that being a VP, he won’t only be working with societies and tells us that it is a “multifaceted role.” Aidan believes that he is the “best candidate in terms of knowing how the Union works in all areas.”

You can catch Aidan around campus and read his manifesto in this week’s edition of Gair Rhydd.

By Adam George

Interview with Annabel Jardine-Blake, VP Welfare candidate

“Generally people have been really receptive, really positive and have given us time to talk, which has been really nice.”

Gair Rhydd met up with Annabel Jardine-Blake, one of six candidates for VP welfare, to discuss her progress and experience of campaigning so far. The VP Welfare campaigns for welfare issues that could affect students and represents your views on welfare to the university.

Annabel, who is running under the campaign of ‘incredibel’ in the election, told Gair Rhydd that she was enjoying the campaign so far. Annabel also singled out meeting new people as one of the highlights so far.

She was also keen to show that her experience is what sets her apart from the other candidates: “I worked in student support for a year, I’m co-president of SHAG, I’m also on Holly’s [the current VP Welfare] exec this year,”. These are all positions which she believes will be indispensable if she is elected as VP Welfare.

Annabel was also very confident of the items on her manifesto that students have been the most responsive to so far; free tampons in the SU and lecture recording for all subjects. She also noted that “generally people have been really receptive, really positive and have given us time to talk, which has been really nice.”

Later in the interview, Annabel gave an insight into her strategy for campaign week, as she released a serious video on Monday that set out her reasons for standing but then “released a funnier video today [Wednesday] which is kind of me just messing about in my costume, which is quite fun!” She was however, keen to emphasise that her main aim was generally “to talk to as many people as possible.”

When asked about which were the main points on her manifesto, she identified points that students had been particularly receptive towards, free tampons and lecture recordings for every subject, but also a desire to promote cohesion between the SU and the university’s student support programme. She seemed pleased that students were responding to her message as this was one of her key aims when selecting her manifesto plans. Although Annabel noted she had some difficulty as she was “limited with the number of words” when writing her manifesto.

Towards the end of the interview, Annabel said that she was “really, really passionate about it [the VP Welfare position]” and that she thinks she “would be the best person of the job.” She signed off by asking students to check out her manifesto, which can be seen online at cardiffstudents.com or in this week’s Gair Rhydd.

By Sam Saunders

4:00pm – Interview with Josh Kellett, VP Sports and AU president candidate

“You do suffocate people. People have had the same guy come up to them four or five times and he hasn’t even recognised them because he’s spoken to so many people.”

Josh Kellett was the latest candidate to be interviewed by Gair Rhydd, and he spoke to us about campaigning and his plans should he succeed in his bid to become VP Sports and AU President.

“Its  bit tougher than I imagined”, he said, “I’m finding it harder to do the public speaking than some of the other candidates, I struggle more with going into lectures.”

Asked what his campaign strategy was in light of his reluctance to do as much public speaking as some of the other candidates, Josh said: “I’m trying to go through social media and I’m quite good at photoshop edits, I put my face on a VK. I’m trying to do something a bit different.”

Telling us about how engaged students have been, Josh spoke of how students were being “suffocated” by intense campaigning from candidates, saying that the problem was that having just one week for campaigning made candidates feel as though they had to bombard students in order to get their message across.

“You do suffocate people. People have had the same guy come up to them four or five times and he hasn’t even recognised them because he’s spoken to so many people. You could make [the campaigning period] longer so it becomes more about the policies than just a popularity contest.”

Talking about his main policies, Josh cited his proposed sponsorship fair, which would allow sports clubs to find potential sponsors, as the policy that students and clubs’ committees have engaged with most.

He also mentioned his plans to change how away days are organised, proposing that the Union subsidises half of the cost of travel for sports clubs who are playing matches outside of Cardiff. 

By Toby Holloway

3:30pm – Interview with Lamorna Hooker, VP Societies candidate

“I’m just as experienced but fresh, I’ve got new energy and I can deliver bold ideas that students will actually see.”

Yesterday, it was Lamorna Hooker, a 4th year French and German student’s turn to pop into the Student Media office for an interview about her campaign and her election week so far.

Describing herself as the best person for the job, the pirate dressed VP Societies candidate is a self-described ‘societies enthusiast’, stating “I really love societies and am really passionate about them”. Lamorna has held three different roles, on three different society committees, and has also been a member of a variety of different societies during her time in Cardiff University, including course based, performance and appreciation societies.

Lamorna has also been the president of the German Society, and as a result increasing the support for course based societies is an important part of her campaign. She claimed “I know how hard it is for a course based society to actually try and do stuff that’s not just alcoholic socials, things like guest speakers and networking events.”

As well as increasing support for course based societies, Lamorna believes she has “quite a nice variety” of manifesto points. Other points on her manifesto include reducing membership prices for students going away on placements, encouraging societies to engage with post graduate students, and transforming the Great Hall space to be better suited to the needs of the societies.

Whilst comparing her manifesto to the other candidates hoping to become the VP Societies this year, she stated “in terms of manifestos, a lot of other manifestos for societies actually have mistakes on them, and mine doesn’t!”

‘Captain Hook-er’ has enjoyed her campaigning so far, saying “it’s really nice going to talk to different people and going and seeing lots of different places on campus. People have been a lot more responsive than I was expecting them to be. I was expecting people to be a lot more hostile, but people have been really friendly.”

Comparing her campaign to other VP Societies candidates, Lamorna stated “I feel like we’ve all taken relatively different routes. I am relatively present on social media, I try to get myself out there as much as I can, but I haven’t done a silly singing video or anything. I’ve done a lot of lecture shoutouts, spoken to people in cafes and stuff.”

Lamorna, who’s been using the hashtag #votecaptinhooker during her campaign, stated that ”one of the reasons I’m going for societies is that I’ve had the best time in societies, it’s literally improved my university experience so much. I just want everyone to have the same experiences as me.”

If you want to know more about Lamorna’s campaign, you can read her manifesto in this week’s edition of the Gair Rhydd.

By Osian Wyn Morgan

3:00pm – Interview with Nathaniel Fox, SU President candidate

“I’m just as experienced but fresh, I’ve got new energy and I can deliver bold ideas that students will actually see.”

“I want to bridge this gap between elected officers and students so people sometimes don’t know who they are and don’t know what they’re doing”

The final SU President candidate we interviewed is Nathaniel Fox, you guessed it, the one dressed up as a fox. As someone who’s never campaigned before, he says “it’s been good, it’s quite a stressful experience but it’s good fun. I’ve been getting to know the other candidates really well and its nice to speak to people and get your face out there.” He later adds “I’m not unrecognisible in my fox onesie”.

Talking about the campaign, he explains ” Some people like to be talked to individually, and I can talk about what really matters to them, because that’s a key part of what I want to be as President. I want to bridge this gap between elected officers and students. People sometimes don’t know who they are and don’t know what they’re doing, and I want to make sure I’m a president that does things and they can see that. When they see that they’ll be more responsive and be more responsive with feedback and their ideas.”

He believes that this campaign week has helped engagement “more people are finding out about the election now that didn’t know it existed from what I’ve been speaking to people so that’s good. Even if they don’t vote for me I still want them to vote so its good the word’s out there.”

Fox, whose manifesto points include creating more learning spaces, refurbishing the main hall and expand the Safe Walk scheme, doesn’t believe that any policy is more important than any other. “I tried to make my manifesto big but achievable” and explains that while campaigning it’s about “tailoring my manifesto to people to show that I’ve thought about it and that I can deliver this.”

He has tough competition from current sabbatical officers Hollie Cook and Milly Dyer for the position, but feels confident he has the experience and an unique insight into the SU that gives him an advantage. I’ve volunteered extensively, “I worked with the venues team, I’ve been involved as much as I possibly can. I have a very unique insight into the union. I don’t think that’s a disadvantage, if anything its an advantage because I’ve got experiences that they perhaps haven’t got as well as the skills to do the job.

“The unique insight I have in the union is something I’m really trying to push. I haven’t been a sabb but I understand the different things students want. I’m just as experienced but fresh, I’ve got new energy and I can deliver bold ideas that students will actually see.”

Looking to the future Fox is thinking about doing a postgraduate degree here at Cardiff, so in a way “I have a vested interest in making it better for everyone. The way I will do that is work strongly as a team, I don’t want to just achieve my manifesto points, I want to achieve all the others’ manifesto points.

I’m a big believer we’re an elected officers team, including campaign. In doing so, we can represent as many students as possible. I want them to know that hopefully no student will feel left out or left not represented any more.”

By Carwyn Williams

2:00pm – Gair Rhydd were on candidate watch in YOLO last night…

Some serious ‘campaigning’ was done.

Here’s a lovely shot of Coral Kennerley, who is going for VP Sports and AU President.

And here’s one of VP Societies candidate Tom Morris, nonchalantly leaning on Kate Elswood’s (VP Welfare candidate) shoulder. All photographs were taken by Gair Rhydd’s Rich Jones.

Interview with Geoff Jukes, VP Welfare candidate

“I love to talk to people, so if you see me, come and say hi.”

Gair Rhydd spoke to Geoff Jukes, a candidate running for the role of VP Welfare, a role that acts as a direct liaison between the Union and the University on all non-academic issues in the best interest of student welfare.

Geoff’s campaign has been largely based on students supporting students, building up student led services such as the Safe Walk Scheme and Cardiff Nightline, and raising awareness of some of the hidden issues that students face.

Speaking first about the services, Geoff explained: “I believe in students supporting students, they’re all in the same boat at university, and they can be better at emphasising. I want to support them and have weekly meetings bringing together their committees.”

Geoff added: “I want to introduce added incentives to get more students involved in schemes like the Safe Walk Scheme. Possibly a regular social at the expense of the union, or free entry to YOLO.”

Geoff said that student’s have been very responsive to his campaign, and explained that after some brief explanations, there’s plenty of appreciation of his focus on hidden illnesses and gender identity.

“There are a lot of hidden illnesses and disabilities that people aren’t aware of that impact students. And something that goes hand in hand with that is gender identity. There certainly isn’t enough awareness of that. There are people who are gender neutral, gender fluid and non-binary. I’ve been in the SU before, and when I’ve asked for the gender neutral toilet key, I’ve been told to use the male toilets. It’s about educating and training people to raise awareness.

“I’ve had the best response from people who may relate, but may not say anything. I think people relate very well to what I am saying, whether they themselves have experienced it or know people who have.”

When asked what sets him apart from other candidates, Geoff emphasised his hands on experience. “I have experience around the union and also my student support scheme work. I have done Cardiff Nightline and I’m aware of the issues that students have first-hand. Including student mentoring and the Safe Walk Scheme, I have seen student life from all angles and perspectives.”
Geoff was also keen to add that he has lived his manifesto. “I have a hidden illness, and I myself identify as gender fluid. I have experienced these issues, and I believe I know what has to be done to address them.”

Despite admitting he is feeling a little tired, Geoff was quick to stress how much he’s enjoyed himself, campaigning with other people and meeting as many people as possible. “I’m the guy with the jukebox around my neck. I love to talk to people, so if you see me, come and say hi.”

By Gareth Axenderrie

12:00pm – Interview with Chiron Hooson, VP Education candidate

“Whatever happens this week it’s been an incredible experience”

Gair Rhydd was able to speak to Chiron Hooson about his candidacy to be VP Education next year. As part of the sabbatical team VP Education is responsible for representing students on all academic matters and coordinating the student rep scheme.

Chiron was keen to emphasise how he was enjoying this week’s campaigning, “I’ve absolutely loved it. I’ve really enjoyed talking to students more than anything. I’ve been able to hear what they’re thinking about their course. Also, just getting students engaged in the election and making them aware of just how important this decision is.” He also spoke about his feelings regarding the responsibility which comes with the role, “I think that’s [the role] just a huge responsibility and something that does make me think this is something that sort of does make me think this is something that is big but at the same time excites me and wants me to drive passionately and just go further and try my best.” He added, “whatever happens this week it’s been an incredible experience.”

We then went onto discuss his costume. This week Chiron, like many candidates, has dressed up in a costume to draw attention to his campaign. Chiron’s campaign has involved him dressing as a genie and we asked him the inspiration behind it, “I’ve always been a massive Robin Williams fan. And watching Aladdin, the Genie character that he plays in the cartoon. I just love that character. I love that sort of charismatic, bouncy, happy, bit cheeky, keep you going you know always being there for Aladdin whenever he needs help. I like to think I’m that sort of person.” He added, “I really am trying to sell my personality. It’s not just a gimmick for me.”

When asked about how responsive students had been to his campaign he responded positively citing only one negative student who was uninterested in the election, “On the whole all the other students I’ve talked to have been really responsive, really engaging, really want to know what you’re on about as a candidate” He says most people have been engaging, “I think they’ve engaged really well”.

Chiron feels his manifesto point that has been best received is to do with his employability, “Definitely on employability information. I think for too long both the Union and University have not focused enough on students in terms of getting them ready, in terms of skills. Making sure students know what they want to do when they graduate, having that sort of career pathway enacted and ready to move along. The University does boast about it having a 90% further employment study which is absolutely fantastic and I’m not saying anything against that at all. But what I do think is the University doesn’t focus enough on how many of those are actually in the chosen career they won’t to go into.” He feels the University could do more to advertise these services, “All these great things students aren’t aware of and if we were able to coronate it into an engaged forum, then students might be able to access, working with all the careers advisors and schools to get that done, I think it’s achievable.”

We also asked about his experience as a student senator to which he replied, “as a Student Senator I’ve been able to have an active role in lobbying the University to change things”. He then explained his experience in lobbying over various issues including transparency over investments and expansion of the Student Mentor Scheme to all schemes.

He particularly emphasised his work at the AGM last year where he passed a motion which created the new Mental Health Officer, another position being contested at this series of elections, “I was able to really drive change on Mental Health.” He took this time also to address the controversy over the creation of this role, which split the role of Disabilities Officer, something which was contested by the current incumbent of this role, Charlie Knights, “I know there were some concerns about splitting the role that was currently there with the Disabilities Officer. I think when the Mental Health Campaign Officer is elected, I think we’ll see hopefully it won’t split the officer role but it actually will do is actually create a cooperative environment of actually enhancing the representation for those with disabilities.” He also was keen to praise Knights for standing again this year for the role, “Obviously, huge shout out to Charlie as well for running again…and for the work he’s doing”.

Hooson also took the opportunity to voice concern over the lack of candidacy for many roles, especially the LGBT Officer roles which no one was nominated for, “As a identifying gay person very worrying that we don’t potentially have representation till October at the by-election in October unless they do one in Easter, which I hope they do”.

When asked if there was anything else he wanted known about himself he said, “I’d say I’m someone who is very passionate, very driven, outgoing, I have a lot of different experience and hobbies. In terms of University life I have a very good understanding about the University…I passionately love Cardiff so much and really don’t want to leave, I really want to continue to be part of this great university”.

The end is in sight, on this very windy day!

Hurricane Dorris is upon us and it’s a matter of chance as to which posters stay up and which get blown away in the wind. Haven’t made your vote yet? You can check out the candidate manifestos in  and make your vote here.
Follow us on twitter (@gairrhydd) and use the hashtag #ElectionsCSU for the latest updates.

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