Elections 2017: Day Two

End of Day 2!

We’re going to call it a day for now – it has been one long day of interviews which you can find down below.
There are plenty more interviews and fun little nuggets on their way tomorrow so keep you eyes peeled!

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

6:00pm – Interview with Jo Tan, International Students Officer candidate

“I will definitely bring in something cool and amazing.”

Gair Rhydd spoke today with Jo Tan, one of the two candidates running for the role of International Students’ Officer. International Students’ Officer helps represent the interests of International Students’ at both Union and university level.

Jo’s campaign has been largely based on helping to make International Students’ feel more at home during their time at the University, and it would appear this has been relatively successful, with students’ giving a particularly good response to Jo’s proposed cultural nights.

Speaking of the policy, Jo said: “I think most people are responding to the cultural night, because we as international students get to experience the UK, but UK students don’t get to experience our culture.”

Jo said that International Student’s have also been somewhat responsive to his campaign to secure further bursaries, but seemed surprised by the lack of engagement for students’.

“The students here are not as responsive as I would have imagined unless you have friends then they are particularly responsive. I am currently thinking of ways to get a better response,” Jo said.

Despite this, Jo appeared optimistic, highlighting the “passionate” nature of his peers in their respective campaigns, and encouraging students’ to take more interest in candidates, and not waste their vote.

“If you are interested read my manifesto… Read the other candidates manifestos as well because they all worked really hard for this.. . If you think I am well-qualified vote for me. If you think someone is more qualified, then vote for them. Make your voice count at least!”

However, Jo was quick to stress that a vote for him would be for something “different”, concluding our interview with the statement, “If you would like to see something different next year vote for me, I will definitely bring in something cool and amazing.”

By Harry Webster and Sam Saunders

5:30pm – Interview with Kirsty Hepburn, VP Heath Park candidate

“I’m not treating it as if I’m the only one running, I know that anything could happen!”

Gair Rhydd spoke to this year’s lone candidate for VP Heath Park, Kirsty Hepburn. Unlike other full-time sabbatical positions, which have seen a plethora of candidates vying for your votes, Hepburn is standing unopposed to represent Cardiff’s healthcare students based at the Heath Park campus, but the medic is far from complacent in her campaign. She told us ‘I’m not treating it as if I’m the only one running, I know that anything could happen!’

Dressed in a khaki t-shirt, and accompanied everywhere by a bunch of spotty helium balloons in assorted shades of green, you may have spotted Kirsty bobbing about campus to share her manifesto with as many voters as possible. ‘I was going to dress up as a virus breaking out of the Heath, but then I realised it’s quite difficult to dress up as a virus – so the balloons are a good compromise – and they’re very effective at getting people’s attention!’ she told us.

Kirsty told us that ‘being the only candidate has made me any less keen for the role. I still want to get my points across and talk to people.’ The role can seem less important to a large proportion of Cardiff students who aren’t healthcare students, but Kirsty is eager to reiterate that all Cardiff students are able to elect the Heath Park candidate of their choice, and urges them to do so. ‘Even if you are not based at the Heath, your fees are still paying my wages, and the same as any other sabbatical officer, I will have a say in key decisions about the future of your union.’

The main policy that Kirsty wants to emphasise on her manifesto is the improvement of student support services at the Heath. ‘The services that are provided at the Heath need to be improved. Nico (Holmes, the current VP Heath Park) has done a great job at getting more support such as Advice Services up there. But at the moment this has only been taken up for two days a week. When students are on placement, they can’t always fit support sessions in, so there is definite improvement to be made there.’

The lack of microwaves for students to heat up their lunch was highlighted in the SU’s ‘Speak Week’ campaign as a hot topic for students at the Heath campus. If Kirsty is successful on the election trail, she hopes to (micro) wave goodbye to this problem by installing microwaves and improved kitchen facilities throughout the Heath buildings, a policy that was initiated by the current VP for Heath Park.

Kirsty is also keen to promote inclusivity across Heath-based sports clubs and societies. Healthcare students are often put off joining sports teams because they are branded as Medics’ teams, but Kirsty wants to break down barriers between different courses, and give Heath students a more traditional experience of university life. She told us ‘I’ve spoken to nursing students who’ve said “I don’t feel like a uni student” because freshers’ isn’t as big for them. University is a great experience and one that should be open for everyone.’

By Emily Giblett

5:00pm – Interview with Kate Elswood, VP Welfare candidate

“You can make great change within a year”

Credit: Emily Giblett

On Tuesday afternoon, Gair Rhydd welcomed Kate Elswood into the office to have a chat about her campaign to become Vice President Welfare. The VP Welfare is responsible for representing students’ welfare needs to the University and strengthening links with key welfare service providers in the local community.

We asked Kate how she has found campaigning so far and she told us “it’s really hard work but I’m enjoying it, especially speaking to students one-on-one about how I can help them.” She has also been very happy with the responses that she has received from students: “I have had a few people saying that they are interested and will be voting for me. So that is very good.”

When it comes to strategy Kate is up for anything to get her point across. She is dressed as Harry Potter and certainly seems to have a few tricks up her sleeve to get students under her spell. She described her campaigning so far: “I have been doing lecture shout-outs all morning, I’m heading to the Heath later to make sure I see a wide range of students.” Like other candidates, Kate also has a very strong social media presence and has parodied ‘Potter Puppet Pals’ for her campaign video, which appears to be going down well with students. It seems that Kate’s Harry Potter theme is set to continue as she detailed her plan for a Buzzfeed style quiz to determine which Hogwarts house you are in, which shall be released shortly.

In terms of policy Kate is keen for “students to be able to receive more advice from other students.” She told us that to do this she would “create a website where students can give and take advice because I think the best advice comes from people that have had the same experiences.” We asked if she believes that this would be possible in a term only lasting one year and she seemed more than confident of achieving it. “As we have seen from previous candidates, you can make great change within a year and I also think that I would be setting up something good that could be continued in future years” she explained.

In her manifesto Kate makes it clear that she is very keen to recruit more volunteers to reach more students during welfare campaigns. We asked her how she would go about doing this and she told us “one of my suggestions is to have a lead volunteer in each halls and their job would be to recruit volunteers.” She also believes that “there needs to be more of a drive by the university to recruit more volunteers, not just at the start of the year but continually throughout.”

If you want to hear more about Kate she tells us that you can catch her around the Student Union all week. You can also read her full manifesto in this week’s edition of Gair Rhydd.

By Adam George

4:30pm – Interview with Hollie Cooke, SU President candidate

Gair Rhydd sat down with SU President candidate and current VP Welfare Hollie Cooke, who told us what she was up to on the campaign trail.

“It’s exciting, I’m more chilled than I should be because I did it last year. I’m not so fazed by lecture shoutouts and stuff. I don’t have to push myself as much.”

After an effort by the SU to get students more involved with the elections, we asked Hollie if she’d noticed a change in students’ attitudes towards campaigners.
“Students have been really responsive. Monday and Tuesday are the days when everyone is nice you but by Thursday and Friday everyone is like ‘I’ve talked to loads of people’.

Everyone is more receptive, there are less candidates which isn’t great, but it does mean that people are more happy to talk to you.”

Asked about her campaign strategy for this year’s elections, Hollie said: “Face to face contact is the best way, people are more receptive. Lecture shout outs every hour are also needed to make sure you’re reaching the masses.”

As VP Welfare, Hollie insists that “7 out of 9” of her manifesto objectives have been achieved this year, and declares that she will be similarly ambitious if she is successful in her bid for SU Presidency.

“I was purposefully ambitious, I’ve used the knowledge I have of how the student union works to make sure my policies are feasible.”

Although her manifesto, which includes plans for a swimming pool in the great hall and a new cafe on the 4th floor of the SU, does appear extremely ambitious, some have suggested that a few of her policies are already in the works. Allegedly, plans for the refurbishment of the fourth floor of the SU, for example, have already been outlined by the Students’ Union, and are supposedly in their budget.

We asked Hollie whether her position as VP Welfare would give her inside knowledge into what was being planned by the SU: “Although it’s not fully confirmed that we’re going to refurbish the fourth floor it’s something that on the agenda to talk about. It’s really topical because we’ve got students life centre that will block out light on one side, so it’s feasible to expand one side to have a cafe that would have a nice view of Cathays.”

When questioned over some of the other points on her manifesto, she said she would like to see “A freshers fair planned by students rather than middle aged men”, as well as to “get all lectures recorded”, stating that the “uni has the ability to record lectures. It’s not a technology problem; the lecturers need to do it.

“The swimming pool is the other ambitious one. Maindy Place is being privatised so going to be done up anyway, this is the easiest option, we could get a student deal going there. Great Hall is being refurbished, but we don’t know what is going to be like. We could easily put a swimming pool in that.”

Hollie also stated that the University Sports Strategy was also an option, and that the swimming pool could be part of a “5 year or 10 year plan.”

Hollie also said that she was “very hardworking, driven, approachable” and that, should she win the election, that she would “always have an open door policy.”

By Toby Holloway

4:00pm – Interview with Coral Kennerley, VP Sports and AU President candidate

“I really like sport and everyone should at least try and have a go at uni – it really enhances your experience.”

How has campaigning been so far?

“Fun, tiring but good talking to a lot of people. This is my first time campaigning, so I’m not sure if I’m doing it right but it’s been good. I’ve got a lot of people helping me.”

What’s your strategy during campaign week?

“It’s better to go and talk to people one to one. I’m not sure how effective lecture shout outs are.

“I’m hitting social media quite hard and talking to everyone I know. I’ve tried to put banners in all the right places.”

What points on more manifesto are students responding to the most?

“One of my main points is providing AU clubs with student physios. So physios will get their practise hours and clubs will get free physio. A lot of people have said that that is a good idea because a lot of club members have injuries or need maintenance for existing injuries. Another one is a reward scheme where you get points on YOYO if you go to the gym and use exercise classes.”

What do you want students to know about you?

“I really like sport and everyone should at least try and have a go at uni – it really enhances your experience.”

How do you plan to engage students more in sport?

I want to promote engagement by creating inter-halls tournaments. This will be for freshers that are maybe a bit scared of joining a bigger club. I want them to make a team out of their friends in halls and gain the confidence to join the AU clubs later on.

International students and disabled students are among the least involved in sport, how do you plan to engage them more in AU activities?

“I think there’s quite a lot of international students who will join a sport if they’ve played at home, but we will advertise more using social media. We should also work with AU clubs to provide more provision for disabled students to get involved in sport.”

3:30pm – Bad weather doesn’t put off candidates

Despite the horrible Cardiff drizzle, candidates have been braving the weather to reach students in every school.

Will your banner survive the rain?
VP Welfare candidate, Kate Elswood
Jake Smith and Chiron Hooson

Photographer: Emily Giblett

2:45 – Interview with Sam Stainton, SU President candidate

“Milly Dyer, I love her.. But what the hell is a super-library?”

Gair Rhydd spoke to Sam Stainton this morning about his campaign to become the Students’ Union President. The President is the top position up for grabs this week and the ‘#FeelTheFuzz’ candidate is expecting a hard-fought week ahead. The job of the President is to lead the Sabbatical Trustee team and the Union as a whole. It is their responsibility to act as a key link to the University Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Council, and the Senate, as well as the NUS and other key stakeholders. The financial position and performance of the Students’ Union also lies in the hands of the President so it is obviously a position that holds a great deal of power.

I’m sure most readers will have seen Sam around campus over the past two days, sporting that simply exceptional beard. I can tell you that, up close and personal, it really is a joy to behold. Today he has covered the beard, and our office, in golden glitter to make sure that he is noticed.

He admitted that he was slightly taken aback by just how hectic the campaign trail is. “Monday, two hours in I was sweaty, stuck in. Absolute madness” he told us. He appears to be enjoying the challenge and told us that it was “really good fun.”

Sam has been very impressed with the engagement of students so far and told us that “people have been really responsive actually, especially when it comes to my one-on-ones.” He described lecture shout-outs as “a bit of a risk” and he feels it is much better to make a presence of himself, hence the “shit-ton” of glitter in his beard.

We asked Sam if he had a strategy for the week ahead and he told us it was really just about making himself known on campus. “Yesterday was all about getting posters up and getting the face out there”, he explained. “Today I’m heading up Heath and Engineering to make myself known. I’m going to be bombarding people around Cathays all week.”

Gair Rhydd asked Sam what his most important policy was and he told us that he is very keen to change the structure of the Student Union. Sam said “I feel there is a bit of a disconnect from the students.” He discussed the recent Speak Week that took place and questioned why an event like this only takes place once a year. “Why not every week?” he asked, “Students should be able to have a say whenever they like.” He is keen to introduce monthly question and answer sessions between students and elected officers. Sam suggested that he would like to make the system more personal: “Students should be able to put their questions straight to us, rather than being sat behind an inbox for two weeks.”

Looking through the manifestos of the candidates running for this position, you find a wide range of optimistic policies. A new swimming pool, a rooftop cafe and the pedestrianisation of Park Place are some of the ideas forwarded by candidates. We asked Sam what he thought about these more hopeful policies. “Milly Dyer, I love her.. But what the hell is a super-library?” he asked. Sam’s manifesto doesn’t feature any policies quite as outlandish as this and we asked him why this was the case. He assured us that he doesn’t lack ambition but he would much rather focus on “creating opportunities and work experience to support students in their quest for their dream job.” Sam also explained that he wanted to add a “personal touch” to his manifesto, rather than just a list of policies. “I want to show students that I’m not there to be a hierarchical figure but simply there to represent you.”

Unlike Holly and Milly, Sam doesn’t have the experience of serving as a VP in the past and we asked if he thinks this is a disadvantage. “Not at all,” he replied, “I currently do a lot of work for Enterprise, running a team of fifteen people and manage a festival that caters for twenty-thousand.” Sam has no doubt in his ability: “This is nothing new to me, this is something I love doing.”
Sam finished the interview by stating that “I am big believer in not stigmatising people based on how they look or their religion.” He assured us that “although I may look like a big rugby bloke, I’m really not. I’m down to earth, approachable and chilled. I’m always up for a chat.”

By Adam George

2:20pm – IT IS too late now to vote Bretty

We noticed some remnants from last year’s campaigns around campus. Although they are no longer relevant the semi-vandalism stickers cling on – make sure your support doesn’t go to the wrong person!


2:00pm – Interview with Tom Morris, VP Societies candidate

“A lot of people seem to like the video so far”

Gair Rhydd met up with Tom Morris to discuss his campaign for VP Societies. Tom has been editor of the Societies section in Gair Rhydd since September and wishes to progress to a sabbatical position in the union, working with societies full time. He came in for his interview proudly wearing his captain’s hat after a day of campaigning. He said: “I’ve learned a lot in the past couple of hours. I’m actually thinking I should have campaigned last year just to find out how to do it actually.”

He believes that candidates who have campaigned previously have a certain advantage. He said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if so many people doing it now who did it last year only did it last year because they wanted to do it this year.”

“This morning I was having trouble but then I went home for an hour or two to sort out my Facebook stuff because I couldn’t do it before I came this morning because obviously that’s pre-campaigning isn’t it.”

His campaign video, which parodies the opening scene of Trainspotting has received a huge response even being picked up by The Tab.

“A lot of people seem to like the video so far.”

Tom has planned how he is going to target specific groups of people with his campaign. “What I’m going to do this evening is go to a few societies and do a Facebook live, and on Wednesday I’m going to go to YOLO. I’m also going to visit a lot of clubs and tell them what I can do for them basically.”

He is very keen to get medics involved through his campaign as he feels that they tend to not get the same attention from societies. He said: “I’d like to visit Heath definitely because I feel like medics at the moment aren’t very interested in societies but that might be because they don’t have much society provisions. So if I could say ‘I will provide more society stuff at Heath’, you know, things that medics will be able to get to because their lectures will have finished in time or whatever then they might be interested.

“Medics are known for being interested in sports, so why wouldn’t they be interested in societies as well?”

When asked what students seem to have been responding to, with a chuckle he said: “So far the best thing has been the video.”

“I hope people will be interested in the student media side of things. I did a shout out in an English lecture earlier and I said ‘I’m sure a lot of people in here doing English will be interested in student media. I’d like to see student media supported for as VP Societies obviously working on all these old computers and stuff you’ve got a lot of problems in here. You need more support from the union.”

“I think I would like students to know that while I’m not on a societies committee but I think that can be seen as a good thing. I don’t believe in doing a lot of things for free and this is why I think volunteers should be rewarded. I don’t necessarily mean money-wise but I feel like it can just be a bit of a piss take doing all this free stuff and not getting anything for it. So if you were volunteering for five different things in the SU and then you’ve got a side job as well then obviously that’s not a good position to be in. It might look to people as if the only thing I’ve done is societies editor but I’ve been involved with a lot of societies but just haven’t been on committees. I’ve just been on so many I don’t think I could commit to just one single society.”

You can find out more about Tom in his manifesto in this week’s issue of Gair Rhydd.

By Maria Mellor


1:30pm – 3rd year students are the most keen so far

SU voting stats, as of 1:15pm 21/02/17

Despite there often being a general mood that ‘third year students don’t vote because it doesn’t affect them’, so far more third year students have voted than any of the other years.

Could this be because the friends of candidates are the ones voting so far? Or perhaps having gone through two years at Cardiff University already, third years are the ones who understand what is happening the most, and are therefore the most engaged.

Fourth years follow close behind, with second and first year engagement falling short despite the elections having the biggest impact on them.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens as the week progresses.

12:00pm – Candidates use dating apps to get votes

Social media has always been one of the main ways in which candidates campaign, and this year we have found several candidates on certain dating apps. Tinder and Grindr use your location to scout out potential dates – and also potential candidates! It’s certainly an interesting strategy…

Here’s some of the ones we’ve come across:


10:30am – Interview with Charlie Knights, Students with Disabilities Officer candidate

“The costumes are very funny but I don’t think it would be appropriate for the position I am running for.”

Gair Rhydd caught up with Charlie Knights who is running for Students with Disabilities Officer. The job of this officer is to represent students with disabilities at Union and University level whilst also campaigning on any relevant issues. This is a post that Charlie has held for the past year alongside his position as head of Cardiff University TV.

Charlie was in a buoyant mood and seems to be relishing the week of campaigning ahead. He admitted that he was “absolutely shattered” but said that “he was already loving it”. Charlie described the events that took place at 9am on Monday morning when voting opened. He said “It was a great sight to see everybody out on the union steps in their coloured t-shirts and costumes ready to kick off the week.”

Charlie already has the experience of one successful campaign under his belt and he thinks that he has learnt some valuable lessons from last year. He told us that last year he “burned himself out” with non-stop campaigning, attending events such as YOLO and the Real Ale Festival, which made him “very, very ill by the end of it.” He assured us that he will look after himself better this time.

He told us that the responsiveness of students is very varied. Charlie was happy with some of the feedback that he received, with one third year that had previously never voted but had been swayed by Charlie’s policies. However, Charlie did concede that not all students were as enthusiastic about elections week with one postgraduate responding “Oh is it election week this week? That’s the last thing I need.”

We asked Charlie if he had any particular strategy when it came to campaigning and he told us that he “wasn’t a fan of lecture shout-outs as they were impersonal.” He said that he would much rather get out there and talk to people personally to get his point across. Charlie also spoke about the “gimmicky costumes” that we see many candidates in. He said “The costumes are very funny but I don’t think it would be appropriate for the position I am running for.”

Charlie highlighted his main two policies for us. He explained “I am very keen to start a Disabilities Association like the ones that are in place for LGBT and BAME.” He admitted that “people have struggled to create this in the past but I believe that I can do it in my second term.” His other main policy is fixing the process of extenuating circumstances. Charlie explained that “we see such disparity in the way that people are treated and people are struggling to understand the process.” He told us that if elected this is definitely something that he would work to rectify.

At this year’s AGM there was a motion passed that created a new position of Mental Health Officer. Charlie spoke against this motion at the AGM and told Gair Rhydd that “The motion did not actually create a new role but simply split my role in half.” He went on to tell us that “This means that the Students with Disabilities Officer now has half the vote and half the budget.” We asked Charlie if he believes this will impact his role and he told us “It won’t affect my role as such but it just gives me less power to do it.” Charlie was very clear that, as a sufferer of mental health issues in the past, he knows that mental health is very important. However, he does believe that the new position causes a “massive disparity” in terms of funding for physical and educational disabilities.

Charlie remained optimistic and believes that as a critic of the role he could be the perfect person to shape and guide it through its debut year. “The role does have great potential to be something great if it has the right hand at the wheel.” When asked if he was that ‘right hand at the wheel’, Charlie raised a smile and replied “Of course.”

You can find out more about Charlie in his manifesto in this week’s issue of Gair Rhydd.

By Adam George

10:00am – Day Two Begins!

Day two of #ElectionsCSU is underway as candidates brave the Cardiff weather. Anyone found a way of incorporating a raincoat into their costume?

Here at Gair Rhydd we have a lot of exciting stuff lined up: interviews, pictures and the whole lowdown on what’s going on.

Stay tuned!

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