Elections 2017: Day Three

End of Day 3!

Today has been a VERY busy day for Gair Rhydd – we’ve interviewed more people than you would think possible and typed until our fingers were sore.
Take the time to read some great interviews from candidates below – there’s a lot of them! If you’re still waiting for your interview to be put up don’t worry – they’ll all be up in good time.
There’s only two more days to go now! Good luck to candidates, and voters GET VOTING!

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

6:15pm – Interview with Holly Thomas, VP Sports candidate

“I just really want to help, as much as I can, for every single student on the campus or every single human being that I have in my life.”

How you finding it so far?
Good, busy, I’m enjoying getting into contact with people I don’t usually have a lot of contact with which is nice. I feel like I’ve bonded with them, with the postgraduate community. It’s been good

What postgraduate degree are you doing?
History Masters

Have people been very responsive do you think to your campaign?
Yeah I think so. I’ve obviously plastered flyer everywhere but when I’ve ben speaking to people I feel like they’re engaging with the idea on my manifesto and I’ve had a few people come up saying I spoke very well at question time which is very nice because you don’t always know how many people watch it

Is there a main point in your manifesto that you’re emphasising, what are people responding to the most?
I would say there’s kinda two points people are responding to the most and that is I want to champion something called Team Cardiff Talent ID which would be an online sporting calculator where students can enter physical, logistical data and it will calculate sports that are suitable for them and secondly I want to run an inclusive sport campaign where I work with the campaign officers in the student’s union to make sure that sport is accessible to all regardless of your sexual/ romantic orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity or disability.

The competition list , as I think you know for the AU/ VP sports, is quite fierce. How are you finding that you are doing against the other candidates, do you think you are getting your word out there?
Yeah I’m focusing on my own game. I don’t want to get tied up in what other people are doing so I’m just concerned with where I’m going daily to make sure that I get the message across to as many people as possible

Is there anything that you want us to know about you in particular?
I’m the current president of the rowing club and I was women’s rowing captain for 2 years and I’ve been in rowing for 11 years and I’ve rowed at a divisional, national and international level so I feel like I have the experience from rowing or sport in general at a grass roots level all the way through to a high performance level

Have you been at Cardiff the whole time you did your undergraduate here?

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Mainly in that I am pleased how people have been responding to my campaign so far and I hope to continue in the direction for the rest of the week

By Molly Ambler and Maria Mellor

6:05pm – Interview with Fadhila Al Dhahouri, VP Education candidate

“I just really want to help, as much as I can, for every single student on the campus or every single human being that I have in my life.”

How did you find campaign? How did you find the engagement of students? What are your main policies? What is your strategy?

Honestly, I didn’t know that it’s so much fun. Literally, I feel that it is one of the best experiences that I’ve taken decision to do. I find super fun going around from campus to schools, doing lecture shout outs, speaking to people in cafe or doing leafletting as well as managing the groups and the team who will be responsible for social media or content creation. There is so much to do and I’ve been really planning from one or two months, so for now everything is going really well and I feel that I grown a lot as well in terms of my skills, communication with people and just getting connected with people, it’s is just an amazing feeling. Regardless of anything else, competition is great, people are so amazing as well who are candidates and who are running for different position and my own position.

Do you feel that students have engaged well with the elections?

Basically, for me, the way I approached students, not just bombarding with information rather than I am focusing on hearing them most, because my slogan is ‘I Hear You! Let’s Make It Happen!’, so I focus more on their engagement with me. Therefore, I go and ask questions, how much they think it will appeal to them and how much the policy that I’m running for will help them during their education period. So, I see that people are really positive, even though we are really bombarding them with information too. But my focus is to get them engaged with my policies more than me just telling them different stuff.

And do you find that they are engaging in your policies? Which policies in your manifesto students responded the most?

So, basically, my main 3 three priorities and policies that I’ve seen are appealing to students is a free printing for their assignments as well as pushing more for the e-assessments and also lecture recordings for all the lectures in both campuses: Heath and Cathays, and third one is having student digital hub which is rather than logging in intranet, SIMS or learning central, is basically gathering all those in one student digital hub and make it user-friendly and accessible as well as students would be able to customize the way they like. For international students, there is specific policy as well, to help them in terms of their language mentorship, also in terms of their skills development. Also, pushing students for volunteering and community-based projects, because I am international student myself, so for us to engage in that we need to have a certificate that shows we don’t have any criminal records and to get that it takes a long time from back home and either we don’t get it or someone needs to sign it and we cannot have a representative, so that takes long time. Hence, if I’m pushing towards that I will make sure that international students are engaging in things that do not need this type of certificate, so they still could grow, develop and enhance their skills.

Is there anything you want students to know about yourself?

Myself? One thing I really want everyone to know is that I just really want to help, as much as I can, for every single student on the campus or every single human being that I have in my life. Because I believe that every person that I meet in my life is part of me, so I want to give back.

By Rimantė Bivainytė and Maria Mellor

6:00pm – Interview with George Watkins, Mental Health Officer candidate

“Having more people is only going to enable us to work with more students and that can only be a good thing.”

Gair Rhydd sat down for a chat with George Watkins about his ‘no gimmicks’ campaign for mental health officer.

George has found discussing mental health with students around campus particularly rewarding, with it being an issue so many people feel strongly about. George comments that ‘pretty much everyone has some experience with mental health directly or indirectly, so as soon as I bring it up or bring up my policies people tend to listen’. George also notes that one of his key strategies is just to ‘talk to people’ and engage with as many students as possible.

Discussing his manifesto George states that it is his ‘safe place’ policy which has resonated with people the most; ‘that’s been particularly responsive considering that in 2014 there were a 130 student suicides across the UK’. George says that enacted this policy would involve ‘a 24/7 freely accessible service at student support and ideally at the Heath’ which offers ‘safe places for anyone who’s feeling suicidal or vulnerable to self-harm’.

George adds to this ‘the other point that goes hand-in-hand with that is “buddy systems”. So just how medics have “families”, where you’ve got students keeping an eye on each other, this would involve setting up the same thing with mental health for fresher’s, or anyone who’s up for it, through the volunteering service.’

This year mental health officer is a new role, no longer just coming under the umbrella of disabilities. This is something George feels is ultimately a positive change as ‘it gives both officers the opportunity to specialise. Having more people is only going to enable us to work with more students and that can only be a good thing.’

George is quick to note that the other candidates for mental health are ‘lovely people’ but feels it is his experience ‘with the welfare exec, the national centre of mental health and the BBC ‘ that give him ‘concrete policies’.

By Caragh Medlicott and Maria Mellor

5:45pm – Interview with Tom Kelly, VP Sports candidate

“If I was VP sport, I would have an open door policy and be as easy to contact as possible.”

How has your week been so far?
I’ve really enjoyed going out, seeing lots of people and talking to them and encouraging them to vote. I’ll be going to The Lash tonight, hopefully I’ll be allowed in in my train costume.

How has the response from voters been?
People have really liked what I’ve had to say so far, a lot of people have given me feedback which I’ve taken on board. It’s been really good to get to talk to lots of clubs and societies that I haven’t interacted with before.

Do you have a strategy for Elections Week?
My strategy is to hit as many lectures as possible, and speak to as many students and sports clubs as possible. I also have a fantastic social media strategy. I would say that lecture shout outs are still important in order to get noticed and heard.

What’s the most important point on your manifesto?
My main point is increasing participation in sport and increasing inclusivity and equality within sports clubs and trying to change the university’s perspective on sport, to show them how much of a benefit it brings to students and what sport can do to improve the university’s reputation. I would be encouraging the university to put more funding into sport to bring us in line with other similar universities.

What experience do you have that puts you above the competition?
I am the former president of the Ice Hockey Club at Cardiff and I was treasurer before that. I also have experience within the union as part of the Give it a Go Executive Committee. That occurs to me as an area in which sports clubs can increase participation.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you as a candidate?
I’m very friendly and sociable. If I was VP sport, I would have an open door policy and be as easy to contact as possible.

By Emily Giblett

5:30pm – Interview with Alex Stewart, VP Societies

“If I’ve taken your profile picture then maybe you should vote for me.”

You may know Alex Stewart as ‘that guy that takes the photos in YOLO’, but yesterday came in for his interview decked out in his ‘Stewie’ costume – braces and all. We asked him how the week is going for him so far: “So tiring, but it’s really fun everyone is being really reactive and supportive especially amongst all the candidates. ”
He talked about the “little friendship group” of candidates that go around campaigning together. “I spend most of my time talking to the other candidates- probably not a good thing to be doing.”

When asked about lecture shout outs, Alex said: “I’ve been trying my best to do but it is so daunting- the first time I did one it was a bouncy one and everyone clapped at the end and it was really lovely. As you go on through the week they get more and more annoyed with people doing shoutouts, been heckled a couple of times.

“You have to go through humiliation to get this job- you might as well get a good job out of it.”

Alex told us that he was happy with the turnout of voters so far and that “if anyone votes for anyone then it’s a good vote.”

He has an interesting strategy regarding campaigning, saying that he plans on being “omnipresent and then hopefully be omnipotent.” Alex is president of film society and plans on going into film making in the future, so it’s unsurprising that there has been a decent response to his video so far. “It’s just basically about getting your face out there isn’t it,” he says. “My video took so long to make so hopefully it should be able to get me a few votes.

“I’ve had a couple of people singing what is love to me down the corridor which is quite nice.”

We asked him about his manifesto, and which points he is focusing on the most: “One thing I’m trying to emphasise is the role that the student union plays in getting people careers which aren’t involved in their degree. A lot of people come through university and they think I’m going to be a psychologist a politician but the reality is not many people are actually work in the degree they wanted to do so I want to be able to push societies for people who want to use societies as degree.”

Alex seems to be raring to go for the rest of the week, with the halfway point having been and gone. He wants students to know that his experience as an executive member on give it a go and as an SU photographer.

“If I’ve taken your profile picture then maybe you should vote for me.”

By Maria Mellor and Molly Ambler

5:00pm – Cheesy candidate videos from president hopefuls

They’re absolutely shameless

We thought we’d take a little look at the candidate videos from the people who could be our future SU President! From bunnies to cookies, they’ve pulled out all the stops to get your attention.

Milly Dyer has used the same video as last year! She shared it on social media saying “There’s nothing like a good bit of recycling!”
This one is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.

Sam Stainton’s video has people fawning over two things: RABBITS and GLITTER BEARD. You can’t deny that this man has given us a bit of razzle dazzle (it’s still all over the floor of our office from when we interviewed him!)

Hollie Cooke has gone down a different route, using her ‘cookie monster’ branding to create ‘a recipe for an SU President’ – tasty!

President Video

Election week has started and this year I'm running to be your SU President!Check out my video!If you like my points please like and SHARE this so the president you want is elected. #NoShame#Cookie4President #ElectionsCSU

Posted by Hollie Cooke on Monday, 20 February 2017

We haven’t found a video from Nathaniel Fox – maybe he’s decided to avoid the usual gimmicks of campaigning. Either way, the man knows how to rhyme!

16:45 – Interview with Nicholas Fox, VP Welfare candidate

“There’s nothing special about me really, I’m just a 20 year old Maths and Physics who doesn’t want to leave, just like everyone else.”

Gair Rhydd spoke to VP Welfare candidate Nicholas Fox, who told us about his experiences of campaign week so far.

“It’s been tougher than I expected. It’s more fun, the fellow candidates are a laugh to go round with, it’s quite nice to mix it up with different people throughout the day. Some of them are so on it and so prepared!”

Speaking about the engagement he’s received from students, Nicholas said: “Most of them. I was up a the Heath from 11am-2pm on Tuesday and most of them were really good. I was the only one up there at the time so it’s always better when you’re the first one they see.”

Telling us about his campaign strategy, Nicholas said: “I love to talk! Rather than spend hours postering and bannering, and spamming Facebook groups i’d much rather be out speaking to people.”

Fox spoke of some of the difficulties with attempting lecture ‘shout outs’, namely the fear of rejection: “It’s always the initial effort of going in, thinking ‘what if they kick me out?’ I’d have to do the walk of shame, tail between my legs, literally!” (referring to his campaign costume – a play, of course, on his surname).

Speaking about the main points on his manifesto, Nicholas told us of his plan for a ‘Rate your letting agent’ scheme. He cited his and his friends’ experiences with landlords and letting agents, including some who charged £100 for an unnecessary cleaning, as well as “changing lightbulbs that didn’t need to be changed and charging £10 for it”.

He added that “students are quite keen to have a system where they know who to avoid”.

Fox also spoke about the lack of ablution facilities in the SU or the University, and his plans to install a “specialised facility that wouldn’t have to be that big, but would make a huge amount of difference to quite a few students”.

When asked if there was anything he’d like Cardiff students to know about him, Nicholas said: “There’s nothing special about me really, I’m just a 20 year old Maths and Physics who doesn’t want to leave, just like everyone else.”

By Toby Holloway

4:30 – Interview with Seb Walker, candidate for VP Societies

“I’m using lecture shout-outs and a funny video which people seem to be enjoying so far.”

Seb Walker took time out of a busy day campaigning to talk to Gair Rhydd on Wednesday morning. The VP Societies candidate is spending the week in an eye-catching green suit and is giving out crisps around campus, so if you’re feeling peckish track him down. Competition for VP Societies is tough, with six candidates fighting it out in an attempt to win your votes. 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.

Seb boasts a strong background having been a big player in the society scene during his time at Cardiff University. He is a Student Ambassador and is the current President of the Music Society.

We asked Seb how he has found campaigning so far and he told us “it’s very exhausting but good fun.” On Tuesday he lost his visited the Heath for the first time and described his experience as “exciting” and he believes that his policies resonated with the people that he met.

In terms of student engagement, Seb believes that handing out crisps has “definitely helped” to get people involved. However, Seb knows that he cannot rely solely upon students’ love of free food and said “I want to see as many people as possible. I’m using lecture shout-outs and a funny video which people seem to be enjoying so far.”

When it comes to policy, Seb would like to “introduce a new SU queuing system for club nights and events to cut down waiting times.” He also believes that societies need more funding and would achieve this by “running a sponsorship fair just for societies to generate funding and sponsorship with businesses and organisations.”

Seb was keen to let everybody know that he will be around campus all week and you can also find his manifesto in this week’s Gair Rhydd.

By Adam George

3:45pm – Candidates join forces in the halfway mark of the week

We have spotted candidates forming teams to go around and campaign together

They’re buddying up! Ain’t it cute. Win or lose, election week seems to be a great time to make friends.

Dan Schmeising (VP Sport candidate) tweeted this photo with Nancy Cameron (VP Education candidate) and Tom Morris (VP Societies candidate).

Look at this little lunchtime crew candidates have going on in the SU. It’s like


3:30pm – Interview with Milly Dyer, SU President candidate

“My experience has been used by all of the team including Sophie, and that’s something I would bring on top of Hollie”

Gair Rhydd spoke to SU Presidential candidate Milly Dyer at the end of her second day on the campaign trail. This year the competition for the top job is strong, with Milly, who is the current VP Societies, facing a battle against VP Welfare colleague Hollie Cooke and outside candidates Sam Stainton (glittery beard) and Nathaniel Fox (dressed as a fox) for the position.

With Cardiff on characteristically drizzly form, we’ve already seen candidates battling the elements to spread the word about their campaigns, but Milly’s spirits have not been dampened by the gruelling conditions. As an SU campaign veteran, she told us ‘I’ve loved it! It’s very different from last year but all the candidates are really nice and we are getting a lot of support from students. It’s going really well.’

Instead of putting her policies at the forefront of her campaign, Milly has adopted a more laid-back strategy in an effort to win favour with students who are tired of lecture shout-outs. ‘A lot of the time I’m just telling people who I am and making sure people vote before I go on the spiel of the manifesto – otherwise you’re sat at the front of a lecture theatre and hear four different manifestos and they all blur into one.’

Though her approach might differ from other candidates keen to push their policies, Milly’s campaign strategy is as high-energy as you might expect, and you’re likely to spot the candidate bounding around campus dressed as a giant cookie throughout the week. ‘I’m just trying to do whatever I can whenever I can – I’ve got posters and banners around campus and I’m on social media, I am also using my video from last year’s campaign.’ We even had to prevent the candidate from talking on Xpress Radio about her views on voting just in case the extra coverage gave her an unfair advantage over her competitors!

Take a look at Milly’s manifesto for SU president and you will see a number of points, including mention of a ‘super library’, and the creation of new rooms on the fourth floor of the SU. Though this may seem ambitious, it has been suggested that these proposals have already been costed out by the union, and many are already in the early planning stages. However, as Milly explains, ‘there’s a lot of things on all of the manifestos that people will have heard are happening. That’s the way things are. Sophie’s (Timbers, current SU President) 24-hour library was in progress for three years before it was announced in her year, and there are things that are happening for societies now because of the work of Hannah, Barney and Elliot (former Societies VPs).

‘Even if these ideas have been costed out, it’s because they are needed and that’s why I am keen to support them. Yes, ok. Maybe I’ve heard these ideas from within the SU, but it’s more about lobbying than coming up with ideas. These improvements need to be made and all candidates know that.’

Indeed, the phrase ‘super library’ is one that has several other candidates, including presidential hopeful Sam Stainton, puzzled (see yesterday’s live blog entry – “I love Milly Dyer, but what the hell is a super library?!”). Milly explains that the super library concept means ‘more study spaces, 24-hour, all the plugs, and all the things that our libraries are lacking. My super library is going to be full of the things that people want; those study spaces, those desks, those plugs. I can’t say where it will be but there has been talks with the university for years, and I want to push for it because every exam time you see people struggling to find places to study.’

Other points on Milly’s manifesto include the improvement of employability for Cardiff graduates, a policy she wants to put increased emphasis on since the university slipped down the national rankings. As a former intern for the Careers and Employability Service, the candidate has first-hand experience of organising careers fairs, and wants to improve the outlook for humanities students, who, she feels, are often overlooked.

‘Careers fairs are great, but they only reach so many people. If you are studying humanities subjects, it can often feel like there is nothing for you. There is a lot of business and engineering, and science jobs. As a geography student, I hated going to them because it made me feel more depressed about my degree when I left than I did when I arrived. I want to work with our careers services to collaborate with each school and help let students know what their options are.’

As an individual who has already worked within the SU for a year, Milly believes that her experience gives her the edge over her running mates. The self-confessed ‘SU keen bean’ has involved herself in a wide range of SU projects and services over her time at university, which she sees as an advantage over opponent and colleague Hollie Cooke. ‘My experience has been used by all of the team including Sophie, and that’s something I would bring on top of Hollie.’

By Emily Giblett

3:00pm – Interview with Temi Fatona, VP Societies candidate

“When life gives you Temis, make Temilade”

Gair Rhydd spoke with Temi Fatona, one of the candidates vying to be VP Societies. VP Societies is responsible for societies and student-led activity within the Union, University and wider community. Known for dressing as a lemon for this week Temi has put a focus on her experience as President of the Journalism Society and how she’ll use this experience to better societies.

We asked Temi how she was finding campaigning, “I’m tired. It’s only day two but I’m tired. But I’m enjoying it now”. She said that she was slowly “getting the hang of it. Getting the hang of lecture shout outs and knowing what to say and what not to say.”

When asked how responsive people had been to her campaigning she said “I’ve only been shut down once. You’ve got to try and get in whenever you can. A lot of people don’t know what’s going on.” When asked to clarify whether she felt this was first years who had not experienced a student election she said, “It’s a mix.” She referenced an incident with a set first and third year law students she approached who were unaware of what was going on. “People don’t realise how important these roles are.”

We then went on to ask what her main manifesto points were. She said that the “best response is coming from my second manifesto point. Which is to revamp fresher’s fair and also instead of having a refreshers fair in the second semester having a societies’ speed dating event.” She says the advantage of this is that it will show what “see what they have achieved so far and what they’ve done so far and also what they are planning to do for the rest of the year.” She went further to explain how “it gives societies the chance to mingle” saying how as President of the Journalism Society she has organised joint socials with English Language Society and saying the advantages of this include the chance for members to see what’s available.

Temi has been particularly noticed for wearing a lemon costume during the week. When we asked her about the costume she said “we’re given a budget and all the really good lemon costumes were way above budget. So, I had to go on Amazon and I found this bad boy after six pages of scrolling. The costume goes with her campaign slogan, ‘When life gives you Temis, make Temilade’. “Some people don’t know that’s full name” explaining “that’s what my parents called me when I was a child” as Temi is in fact short for Temilade, her full name.

When asked if she had anything else to say Temi was particularly keen to create greater clarity with the relationship between the Societies and the Student’s Union. Citing a discussion with a fellow society president who is new to the job, she explained how this president was unaware of where her membership money was going. While praising Sam Cook, the Societies’ Coordinator at the Union Temi was particularly critical of the training for societies provided by the Student’s Union. “The training we get at the SU is so bad. They just stick you in a room for two hours. They don’t tell you how to access your money, who can your access your money.” She suggested instead, position specific training where depending on whether you were a president or social secretary you would be trained for your role. She hopes benefits would come from this, for example, “Treasurers would get sponsorship and legal training” She concluded by saying “I want to make sure everything is done properly.” And “Hopefully, I’ll be looking after them [societies] next year.”

By Hugh Doyle and Maria Mellor

2:00pm – Candidate videos spread election cheer

The word ‘engagement’ has been used more times this week than it should legally be allowed. Unfortunately for you, we’re going to use it one more time (or probably more).

A great way to raise student engagement is by sending out a snazzy video to shout about (or sing about) your manifesto points

Some have gone for a straight-forward approach:

Jake Smith, VP Postgrad candidate, tells us every reason why you should vote for him.

Procter's gonna rock ya for VP welfare

I think we all need to take a moment to appreciate the double chins, and unicorns.#procyourworld #csuelections #pRocOn*** Vote Procter's gonna rock ya! for VP Welfare ***

Posted by Vote Procter's Gonna Rock Ya for VP Welfare on Monday, 20 February 2017

In a jazzy video, VP Welfare candidate Matthew Proctor claims ‘Proctor’s gonna rock ya!’ Will he fulfil this promise? We’ll have to wait and see.

Some have gone for a parody:

Kate Elswood opted to parody ‘Potter Puppet Pals’ as a self-proclaimed Gryffindor. How cute are those handmade puppets?!

Aidan ‘CamMEMES’- what a mashup. He told Gair Rhydd that he has a “whole folder” of memes ready to send out, so watch out Cardiff! He’s gone with the slogan “Don’t let your memes be dreams”.

Have you made a video for your campaign? Send it to us at!

1:30 – Interview with Nancy Cameron, VP Education candidate

“More one-to-one [with students] later in the week and then even more specific on Friday before voting closes.”

Yesterday, Gair Rhydd caught up with Nancy Cameron, who is running for VP Education in this year’s election and faces stiff competition from five other candidates. The Vice President Education is responsible for lobbying the university to act on academic issues and student feedback. They also promote and oversee the student academic representative system.

Nancy, who has previously been involved with the union through volunteering and becoming a student representative, was full of energy, despite Tuesday’s near constant drizzle. She stated that whilst she hadn’t yet spent much one-on-one time with students, she was “trying to take it slow and not be manic” during the first few days of election week, using her time for lecture shoutouts and putting up promotional material around the university.

Nancy has also focused on spreading her message on social media at the start of her campaign and stated she would be “more one-to-one [with students] later in the week and then even more specific on Friday before voting closes.”

When quizzed about her manifesto pledges, dubbed the “peas in a pod”, she singled out “preparation” as her major focus during campaign week. Although Nancy admitted that it was something “which a lot of the candidates have brought up this year” she was adamant that preparing students for the world of work through careers and employability services was her focus for this week. Her strategy involves “having an integrated careers and employability module with all degree schemes” after learning that chemistry already has a similar module that has been well received by students.

Whilst she was very enthusiastic about this pledge, Nancy revealed that it was not all plain sailing when deciding upon the contents of her manifesto. She had to “find out had student senate already debated it? Had the education executive? Was it something that Mo [the current VP Education] was already doing?”

Towards the end of the interview, Nancy was keen to encourage students to come and talk to her during election week. Mainly by stating that she was “a really good listener,” would “definitely take on board feedback,” and that she was “more than willing to listen,” to students who want to challenge her on her manifesto points.

Finally, Nancy emphasised the social media aspects of her campaign, as students can use the hashtag #VoteNancy to show their support and add votenancy on Snapchat to follow her progress. You can find Nancy’s manifesto in this week’s issue of Gair Rhydd.

By Sam Saunders

1:00pm – Interview with Jake Smith, VP Postgrad candidate

“The Students’ Union and the University could be supporting people who are interested in postgraduate study an awful lot more”

Gair Rhydd are speaking to every single candidate throughout Student Election campaign week. Yesterday, we chatted to VP Postgraduate Students candidate Jake Smith, about campaigning, applying for a Masters and his experiences in student politics.

Jake has been involved with student politics throughout his time in Cardiff, having held a place on the student senate for a number of years. He also stood for VP Welfare last year, however dropped out before campaigning began.

Asked how he’s coping with this week’s heavy and draining schedule, Jake said: “it’s exhausting, but it’s quite good fun. It’s encouraging when you meet people who are supporting you, who say ‘Good luck!’ or ‘I’m voting for you’.

“There’s been some resistance from the uni – lecturers not letting us do lecture shoutouts, and some posters have been taken down.

“The SU supports the candidates very well, and on the whole so does the university, but I guess there are some instances where the university could get into the spirit of things a bit more!”

In terms of his strategy, Jake is focussing on “talking to people face to face”, both in lectures and in cafes, saying that that is the “best way to get your message across”.

Speaking about students’ engagement in the SU elections, Jake said: “On the whole Cardiff students are pretty engaged with the elections, and it’s been really heartening to see people reading manifestos. They’re really interested in hearing what you’ve got to say”.

Talking about the main points on his manifesto, Jake said: “The main point is about better supporting people who are applying for Masters, because I did my undergraduate here at Cardiff and last year, when I was a third year, there were real gaps in the support we were offered.

“There were financial issues we weren’t told about, there were timetabling issues we weren’t told about. The Students’ Union and the University could be supporting people who are interested in postgraduate study an awful lot more”.

Read Jake’s manifesto in this week’s issue of Gair Rhydd.

By Toby Holloway

12:45 – The rain continues!

When will this poor weather ever end?! Candidates are getting soggy, the ink on banners is running and voters are staying inside.

Has the rain been affecting your campaign? Let us know on twitter @gairrhydd!


12:30 – Interview with Dan Schmeising, VP Sports candidate

“I don’t want to be a just another face up on posters”

Gair Rhydd sat down with VP Sports and AU President hopeful Dan Schmiesing, who told us about his experiences of campaign week so far, as well as his plans for sport at Cardiff University should he win the election.

How have you found campaigning, in the week so far?

“Honestly it’s been a blast so far. I got into Cardiff at half past three Monday morning, but I made myself get up to come in and do it and it’s been the time of my life so far. I’m really enjoying it, and really glad I put myself forward.

Have people been particularly responsive so far have you found?

“I hope so yeah. The people I’ve talked to have all been pretty positive, I think a part of that is I’ve tried very hard to be a human being. I don’t want to be just another face up on posters. Sometimes students need somebody who is going to listen to them, and I’m trying really hard to be that candidate for them.”

Do you feel as though there has been more engagement from students with the elections this year?

“Yeah – I think so far the statistics definitely back it up. Last night we had 1,200 votes, which is a huge increase on last year so I’m really happy with that. At the end of the day, just encouraging people to come out and have their say is a win for me.”

Do you have a particular strategy for throughout the week, and for approaching the campaign?

“My strategy is more or less be on the ground game as much as I can, like I said I want to be a human candidate. I want people to be able to talk to me, come to me with ideas, concerns, and suggestions – anything. I think being a sabbatical officer starts in campaign week, and I want to show that I will listen to people as VP Sports, and will be starting that in my campaign.”
What sort of main point on your manifesto are you emphasising the most, and which ones are people responding to the most?

“The main policy that a lot of people have sort of picked up on is my plan for a dedicated martial arts area. Some people think it’s quite ambitious, it will be tough and I’m not gonna lie and say I can absolutely guarantee that we get our own centre or anything like that, but it’s just having something there that I can fight towards. I know first hand how much martial arts benefits you as a person. Karate changed my life I’m not afraid to admit it. I really want to be able to stand up for people like me.”

For you Karate is clearly a massive thing, and great thing to be involved with, but obviously because you’re so involved with it you will naturally have a bias towards martial arts. How are you going to stop that bias creeping into your general policies as AU President?

“It’s not so much Karate being our sport, it’s that fact were a small club and I’ve seen just how detrimental not having the AU listen to you can be. I’m not just doing this for my sport I’m doing this for the whole AU. I don’t care if your club has twenty members, I don’t care if it’s got five hundred. I think that sport is amazing, the way it brings us together and I understand where people may think I’m bias. I am standing for sports I’m not standing for Karate.”

By Toby Holloway

12:00 – Karate has the highest turnout so far of sport clubs

We love some stats here at Gair Rhydd! Looking at who has voted from sport clubs, at the top is karate with a 54% turnout, closely followed by rowing club with 46% then ice hockey with a 35% turnout.

Dan Schmeising, the president of the karate club, is running in the elections for VP Sport, as is the president of the rowing club Holly Thomas.

Their interviews with Gair Rhydd will be going up later today so keep an eye out!

10:30 – Interview with James Daly, VP Education candidate

“I want to stop all of the coursework being due in at around the same time to prevent stress”

On Tuesday afternoon, Gair Rhydd hosted James Daly to discuss his campaign to become Vice President Education. The VP Education represents all of you on academic issues to the University. The winning candidate will lobby and negotiate with the University to encourage them to enact your feedback as well as liasing with the Information Services, including libraries. The VP Education is also the Chair of the College Forums and it is their job to oversee and promote the Student Academic Rep system.

James told us that he has found campaigning “very hectic” but has also been disappointed by the fact that “some schools have cancelled their lectures.” This has led to James turning up to talk at lectures but actually discovering empty lecture halls. He has not let this bring him down and is still very pleased with the responsiveness of the students he has managed to talk to. “For the most part they have been very responsive, but obviously there are a few that are fed up of it already.”

His main strategy is to get himself out and about in an attempt to get his point across. “I want to hit as many lectures as possible, speak to people in communal areas and have a steady stream on social media.” However he is aware that too much social media can actually do more damage than good and said “I don’t want to bombard people or spam everybody’s timelines.”

In terms of policy James told us that his key initiative is to prevent deadline bunching, which he believes is a massive problem for undergraduates. He explained his idea to us: “I want to stop all of the coursework being due in at around the same time to prevent stress and make sure that students are able to work to the best of their ability.”

Another policy that James is keen to enact is called ‘Placement Portal’. “I want to create a platform allowing students on placement to access student advice and wellbeing services via online messenger and video calling.” James admits that this is a niche policy that only applies to certain schools but he told us that it has gone down very well with Psychology students and Medics.
James has a very strong background and believes that as the current Ethical and Environmental Officer, he has the experience and ability to get the job done. He also told Gair Rhydd “I have relationships with a lot of people that work around the University and this will help me to get everything done.”

Expect to see James in and around the University this week. If not, you can read his full manifesto in this week’s issue of Gair Rhydd.

By Adam George

10:00- Welcome to day 3 of election week!

Up and at ’em, candidates! It’s time for another day of campaigning in this wonderful blustery weather. We have plenty lined up for you today: interviews, candidate videos and other news.

Haven’t made your vote yet? You can check out the candidate manifestos in this week’s of Gair Rhydd and make your vote here.

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