Question Time Roundup: Deputy Welfare Officer, Sports Officer and Societies Officer

THE second day of Question Time events commenced today. It featured the candidates running for the part-time positions of Deputy Welfare and Campaigns Officer, Sports Officer and Societies Officer.

elections-2014-logo-stroke1

As well as bringing you full live coverage from the full time officer events, Aber Student Media will also be bringing you a round up report from part-time officer events, all of which will be available in the ‘Elections 2014‘ category in the drop-down News tab on our website.

The report from today’s event is as follows:

Deputy Welfare Officer Question Time with candidates Josh James and Keiron O’Shea

Running candidate, Josh James, was unable to attend the Question Time Event, thereby Keiron O’Shea was the only candidate present and answering questions from the audience. 

Unfortunately manifestos/profiles for these candidates are currently unavailable, however manifestos and more information will be updated in reports should they become available.

QUESTION TIME:

Kieron’s opening speech: I come from an area where, if it wasn’t for the Union support in the late 70’s to 80’s, the entire community would have collapsed. I see this sort of impact happening at the University, especially in Aberystwyth, where it is a small but inclusive community full of strong willed people.

In all fairness, the last Welfare and Campaigns officers have done excellent jobs in certain things such as making student support more visible to new students. But I still see issues regarding that.

Student support itself is a very useful service, but coming here last year, I found it very, very hard to find out more details about it, even with the website being updated as it is now.

There are other issues as well such as mental health, diversity, and accommodation. With the new development of Penglais Farm, and the issue with Pantycelyn at the moment, as Campaigns Officer I would like to support them with their problems.

Q: What for you is the biggest issue in Aberystwyth, as you see it, for students?
A: Probably mental health. Last year, I lived with a guy who had genuine mental health issues, and the lack of support both from the Union and the University seemed incredible; and that’s what basically forced me to apply for this role this year, to help deal with that.

Q: If elected, what would you consider a successful year at the end of your time in office?
A: To create better understanding of mental health issues by partnering with the Universities Mental Health Advisers Network, which 13 out of…I can’t remember the exact number of universities currently registered, but Aber isn’t one of those. These are a bunch of people who once a year, come to a university to provide additional support and other ways of giving information regarding mental health services in higher education.

I would also like to work really, really closely with the guys at Pantycelyn at the moment. I have been sort of helping recently with the protests etc. regarding their omission from Welsh-speaking halls and being forced to move into accommodation which is way too expensive. I would also like to campaign to make the University management more accountable because as we all probably know by now, there’s a lot of on-going issues with the University management, and I think as a Union, we need to start tackling that a bit more head on.

Q: How will you increase awareness of what student officers do in their time in office?
A: I would say that at the moment, the Students Union are doing an excellent job with campaigns on Facebook, Twitter etc. and other social media outlets. Just to further on with that, I would just make sure that the good work didn’t stop, because compared to last year, I would say there is a lot more understanding of what the officers do in the Students Union.

————————————————————————

Societies Officer Question Time with candidate Alex Moore

Unfortunately Alex’s manifesto/profile is currently unavailable, however manifestos and more information will be updated in reports should they become available.

QUESTION TIME:

Alex’s opening speech: I have been involved with societies, both on a committee and a civilian level. However I would like to become further involved in a Union elected position. I feels strongly about societies in University, and believe that societies hold an integral part in the welfare of the students.

According to an NUS statistic which explored how societies have a positive effect on students effected by homesickness, I believe societies provide a break from academic strain as well as bettering the effects of homesickness.

I would like to improve communication between societies. In order to do this I propose that the Union hold monthly forums that allow free speech between the committee heads and presidents, and union societies and activities executives.

I want to create an supportive environment in which the union can offer aid to help improve the university’s societies. I also want to also improve communication with unaffiliated societies, and encourage a working relationship with said societies. I would like to showcase the student societies that are not often promoted, such as Roleplay, and International students societies.

Q: How will you support the Societies Executive and the Activities Officer?
A: One of the things I’d really like to do is to create a forum so committees can have the opportunity to discuss things with myself, as the Sports Executive, and the Activities Officer. From this we can start talking and create an atmosphere to work with the societies executives themselves, and talk to them about the problems they are facing so we can overcome them. Then I will be able to take it up to the assemblies, the President, and get the wheels of democracy working.

Q: How do you hope to include non-official or unaffiliated societies into the Student Union?
A: I’d like to support of them, and if they don’t choose to be affiliated, be able to maintain unofficial links, at least give them my email, and numbers that they contact me on should they have any questions, making them aware that they are able to become affiliated if they want to. I’ll support them and encourage them to become affiliated, because then we can start helping them get funding and such.

Q: How will you train societies to ensure that they can give the support for the ‘homesickness’ that you mentioned?
A: I think a lot of it comes down to simply just being in an environment that feels comfortable for people, and have it essentially become a friendship network, or even a family in some cases for some students. In the case of committees we would talk to them and possibly give them training on how to be there for people. Essentially being able to give very basic counseling, giving them details of groups that they can advise people to speak to. If someone is feeling particularly homesick and feels comfortable talking to the committee, the committee can either comfort them, or can recommend groups to talk to.

Q: If elected, would you include the National Union of Students in the work you’re doing, and do you think there is any benefit to be gained by working with the National Union of Students?
A: The National Union of Students (NUS) provides vast amounts of resources, and help for students and student unions. For instance, in the report that I mentioned they provide areas in which we can focus our attention on, and in terms of what I would be concerned with, it is the amount of first years students that feel homesick. And how we [the societies] can help with this. Again, the National Union of Students provides us with a great forum which we can use to find other specific groups in need. The NUS could start helping us by getting us in contact with other Student Unions, and other societies within those universities, and having groups meet up. For instance, I know of a couple of religious societies that have contacts in Bangor, they meet up annually which is something I would like to see us do, for us to have trips out of the university.

Q: Do you think that these Sporty Card systems that apply to the sports clubs should extend to societies, so they would have to purchase a Sporty Card to join a society?
A: I think that the cards do have a purpose in terms of insurance, however I don’t feel the Sporty Card applies in the same regard. I mean health and safety is a lot stronger in terms of societies, there are a lot of risk implied in societies. Like, we’ve got the Drama society, which obviously carries a risk, but not to the same level as say the Rugby society of which has a very high risk – that must be accounted for. At the same time I want to offer out to students – because with a Sporty Card you get the benefits of being allowed to use the gym facilities – but not every student that wants to join a society wants that, so I would like to explore finding a mid-point. So that you may join a Sports Club and a Society, but you wouldn’t necessarily be able to use the gym equipment. I think a midway point might be an alternative, but as it stands, I wouldn’t recommend pushing for the societies having to purchase a Sporty card.

————————————————————————

Sports Officer Question Time with candidate Emily Magnus

Emily’s Profile:

Emily is the only candidate for the Sports Officer position this year. She has promised to work with the Activities Officer to ensure students can play the sports they want with the support and resources they need. More specifically, she has pledged to improve the sports facilities, encourage more of the student body to become qualified coaches, and to carry on the free up Wednesday afternoons campaign for sports and extra-curricular activities.

Emily has experience in this field through sitting as the British University and Colleges (BUCS) Officer on the Sports Executive Committee as well as acting as President of a sports club. She said, “I am enthusiastic that I can make change happen and represent the student voice in the best way possible.”

QUESTION TIME:

Emily’s opening Speech: I believe I am the best person for this position. I have been the BUCS Officer on the Sports Executive Committee this year and made a lasting impact by the introduction of a handbook, as well as being the President of a sports club. I am enthusiastic that I can make change happen and represent the student voice in the best way possible.

I have a new game plan for sports in Aberystwyth, I intend to launch a campaign to completely free up Wednesday afternoons in order for students to take part in sport and societies. Academic achievement is only one aspect of the university experience and employers value the skills learnt through extra activities that involve being part of a team. Currently, too many students are being forced to choose between sport and academic enrichment, and freeing up Wednesday afternoons would mean they do not have to make this choice.

I will also improve the sporting facilities in Aberystwyth and would like to introduce resources to start an athletics club, as well as ensuring that the mountaineering club do not have to pay to use their facilities.

Furthermore, I want to introduce a notification system as part of a solution to tackle the huge problem of the overbooking of sports venues.

Finally, I would like to encourage more of the student body to become qualified coaches as this can provide vast benefits in university and in later life, such as teaching valuable skills to students, providing them with a useful qualification and cutting costs of sports clubs who would otherwise have to hire a coach.

Q. How would you encourage more students to get involved in sport?
A: At the moment the price of the Sporty Card is a big issue. Some sports clubs barely use the sports facilities so it is ridiculous that they have to pay for the card, which costs £45. I would campaign so the price of the card is included in the University fees, thereby ensuring that no one is restricted from being part of a sports club because of cost.

Q. How would you include students who may not usually feel they fit into sports e.g. the LGBT+ community?
A: We are very lucky that Aberystwyth is a purple flag university which reflects the high level of inclusivity for all members of the university. We have many separate men and women’s sports teams which mean if women do not want to be part of the sporting, macho culture, they don’t have to be. In terms of the LGBT+ society, we could look into creating gender neutral changing facilities in order to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

Q. How would you campaign to make the changes to the Sporty Card?
A: Many officers have struggled with this is the past, particularly in their attempts to make John Grattan, the Pro-Vice Chancellor, listen to them about this issue. To achieve this I would campaign hard and include other officers in the campaign, such as the Welfare and Education Officers, as getting more students involved in sport affects many different areas of university life. If we could get many different communities to join together in the campaign we are more likely to be successful in achieving this goal.

————————————————————————

Monday (3rd) hustings will take place for the full time positions of Education Officer ad UMCA President, which ASM will be providing live stream and live-blog coverage of from 12pm; as well as Question Time events for the part-time roles International Officer, NUS Wales Delegate and NUS UK Delegate.

Manifestos currently available can be found in full here.