Question Time Roundup: International Officer, NUS UK and NUS Wales Delegates

THE final day of Question Time events for part-time officer positions commenced today. It featured the candidates running for the part-time positions of International Officer, NUS UK and NUS Wales Delegates.

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As well as bringing you full live coverage from the full time officer events, Aber Student Media has brought you roundup reports from all part-time officer Question Time events, which will are all available in the ‘Elections 2014‘ category in the drop-down News tab on our website.

The report from today’s event is as follows:

International Officer Role Question Time with candidates Auzee ‘Zeke’ Rosmadee, Lynn Sia and Roy Billington

Auzee ‘s Profile:

Auzee Rosmadee, known by many as ‘Zeke’ is an International Business and Management with Law student from Brunei, Borneo, and the current International Officer. Although Zeke believes that the University itself is incredibly diverse, she knows from her own experience that it is still difficult to adapt to a different cultural and environmental situation. Of which many international students find themselves facing. It is those difficulties that have urged Zeke to run for the position of International Officer.

Through this position, Zeke would like to provide a voice for international students to express themselves. Zeke was a ‘Fresher Hero’ and employed an open door policy, making herself available around the clock, which she felt instilled confidence within students. Among Zeke’s aspirations are plans to create cultural awareness events to ensure the comfort of international students. Zeke’s main aim is to make international students “feel welcome in Aberystwyth”. She believes that international galleries and Union nights out are ways in which to achieve this goal. Zeke also stated that she understands the importance in maintaining good connections with both the International and Welfare offices within the role of International officer. She aspires to be “the voice that gets your voice heard!”

Lynn’s Profile:

Lynn Sia is a second year international transfer student from Malaysia. Lynn believes that there is much to be improved upon in regards to the integration of international students in Aberystwyth University. Having dealt with the international students within the Globe Café and Malaysian Society, Lynn is keen to “keep diversity and make the change.” Lynn has stated that she has some great ideas that she will execute to the best of her abilities. For Lynn, the position of International Officer would be a “privilege.”

Lynn Sia was not present at the Question Time event today.

Roy Billington has not provided a manifesto for this position, and was not present at the Question Time event today.

QUESTION TIME:

Running candidates, Lynn Sia and Roy Billington, were not present at the Question Time Event, thereby Auzee ‘Zeke’ Rosmadee was the only candidate answering questions.

Zeke’s Opening Speech: In my few months as the current International Officer I’ve managed to do a lot, I need to thank everyone who made it happen. So what has the Ziq done? Not in chronological order, I am currently planning an ‘international week’ to happen before the end of March. I have contributed to the Chinese Spring Festival in February whereby international bodies and Erasmus students were welcomed by me. I went to students when they needed me. I got involved with the NUS and tried to be more inclusive by working with other Officers when possible. I attended the LGBT+ campaign and NUS training to understand more about the LGBT+ and international students. I tried to contact the international office a lot to the point that I think they’ve memorized my full name by now.

For the next year I wish to ensure that communication between Officers and students are improved. I cannot as a part time officer do this alone and it is upsetting that not many students are aware of us being involved in everything and all. It’s really difficult because I want listen to as many voices as I can but I can’t. I would like brochures to display cultural facts, something nice and memorable so they will remember us so they’ll feel more involved with the union. Also I will work closely with the Society Officers to create more nation based societies so meetings with the presidents of societies can collect all the information in the international office and improve what needs to be improved. Thanks for listening.

Q: How should the Students’ Union support section officers?
A: What we can do as section officers is get all the information that we need because the full time officers, such as the Education Officer and the Welfare Officer have a lot to do with the section officers, we help them to get more information and pretty much summarize it and give it to full time officers. They will have all the information needed to do everything by themselves, which is really difficult as I mentioned in my speech. It is impossible for you to be alone and try to get all the voices that you need.

Q: What government national issues do you think affect international students in Aberystwyth?
A: Currently there are a lot of national issues. What I can really suggest for the students of Aberystwyth is to send them down to the international office for the proper professional help that they need. Send all of them for the information at the international and welfare offices, and to the Student Welfare Centre, particularly if they feel like it affects their life and their mental health and so on, and pretty much try to make them feel comfortable.

Q: What is your opinion on the new immigration bill and how it will affect Aberystwyth’s international students?
A: Aberystwyth University is a very diverse university and I don’t think it really affects that much. It will be hard for international students who wish to enter the UK to get the education they want. What I could do is hopefully try to communicate a lot with the NUS and hopefully if it’s possible build provisions and send it out to the students and pretty much tell the NUS and everyone who is involved, tell them what these students actually want, excellent and amazing education, especially in Aberystwyth University.

Q: How do you feel about international LGBT+ students and how do you propose to help and support them?
A: International LGBT+ students are as important as every student and need to be treated equally, because we are all students. Give them all the equal chances and opportunities. Tell them what they need to do if they need to seek professional help. If they are in trouble give them advice. Try to tell them that there is an LGBT+ Officer and Aber Pride and to get involved. I want to make them happy.

Q: What role do you see for societies and sports teams in regards to international students?
A: What I hope to do for the societies officer is to communicate a lot with the societies officer and try to make the restriction for only if you only twenty students in the society, try to lighten that restriction. To allow students, for example if they’re from like an unrecognized country to have their own society within the union. Get a monthly forum/ conference with all of the heads of the nation based societies and get all the information and all of these like smaller nation based societies and make improvements with that. Sports wise, students who join like sports as well.

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NUS Wales Role Question Time with candidates Will Atkinson, Auzee ‘Zeke’ Rosmadee, Lorraine Bainbridge and Josh James

Unfortunately manifestos/profiles for Auzee ‘ Zeke’ Rosmadee, Lorraine Bainbridge and Josh James are currently unavailable, however manifestos and more information will be updated in reports should they become available.

Will’s Profile:

Will is a third year Geography student who promises that if elected, he will ensure that students’ voices will be heard on a national level, by holding sessions for students in order to hear their views on national and international issues. He plans on live-blogging the conference to allow students to keep up-to-date with proceedings, and plans on ensuring that bilingualism runs through the entirely of NUS Wales. Will also states that he will speak against any motions that could harm Aber students and promises to produce a full report after the conference is closed.

QUESTION TIME:

Will’s opening speech:  Higher Education isn’t controlled from Westminster therefore we need the Welsh Government to here our voices. I believe that I am the right person for the role because I am not politically affiliated. Therefore your needs are a priority over any political issues. I have been a course representative for three years, and am currently representing the whole geography and politics institute. I am good at canvasing people for their opinions and speaking truth to power.

Q: What do you think is the biggest issue for NUS Wales?
A: I think that at the moment the Welsh Government is undergoing something called Diamond Renew where higher education priorities in Wales are being rejigged. We need to have our input placed into that, and how we believe that higher education should go forward. And in terms of things like how long the subsidy for Welsh students should go on, because at the moment those students are paying less than those coming from over the border. Things like that, so, things that specifically effect Wales rather than all of the UK.

Q: What is your opinion on what NUS Wales has achieved this year?
A: I think they’ve done quite well in terms of doing surveys, surveying and getting statistics and stuff like that. I think the “Pound in your Pocket” concept is really good, I like the fact that we can use their statistics to help lobby our university to change things, and make things better here. They have better resources in getting a national picture of the situation and garnering both the positive and negative points of view. I think that their constant support of Unions across the country is very good.

Although Lorraine Bainbridge did not attend the Question Time event, she submitted the following speech which was read out loud:

“Hello! First of all I’d like to apologise for not being here in person I had an important lecture that I couldn’t miss. I’m running for the position of NUS Wales delegate because I feel that it is important for women of a minority/liberation groups have a voice at the conference.”

“As a gay disabled woman, I feel I can be an effect voice across several liberation movements. I am currently Aberystwyth Student Union’s Women’s Officer and I’m in my second year on the NUS Wales LGBT+ committee as the Women’s place. I am aware of the work that NUS Wales has been doing because of these roles, and I’d really like to shape the future of NUS Wales by being a delegate at the conferences.”

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NUS UK Role Question Time with candidates Auzee ‘Zeke’ Rosmadee, Bridie Sedgebeer, Grace Burton, Josh James and Will Atkinson

Grace’s profile:

Grace is currently the Education Officer and holds several positions within NUS Wales. She has previously been a delegate to both NUS UK and NUS Wales conferences. Her manifesto states that, if elected, she will run open meetings before conference to gauge students’ views on issues, and that her apolitical stance will ensure she has students’ views at heart.

 

Will’s profile

Will was a conference delegate for NUS Wales last year. If elected, he wants to hold surgeries for students to hear the views on national and international issues, encourage students to put forward motions, liveblog the conference back to students in Aber, speak against any motions that could harm Aber students, and write a full report after conference is closed.

 

Josh James, Auzee ‘Zeke’ Rosamadee and Bridie Sedgebeer have not provided manifestos for this position. Of all five candidates running, only Will Atkinson and Grace Burton were present at the Question Time event this afternoon.


QUESTION TIME:

Q: Why should students vote for you to be NUS UK delegate?

Will: I believe you should send me to the NUS conference in Liverpool firstly because I am a scouser and would like to go home. Secondly, I was your delegate last year in Sheffield. I had a really good time, it was really intense and it was a massive learning curve; I did not speak on any motions but I learned a lot about how the NUS works, how they decide on policy, the inner workings and on views there. I feel I am well equipped to go back there again. I do not hold any political affiliations, so will be representing the students only there, will make sure I canvas opinions before I go, will hold drop in sessions as well and talk to as many people before I go to learn their views, their priorities and what they feel NUS should be doing, lobbying the government on higher education change across the UK.

Grace: I am Grace, I am your current Education Officer, and want to represent you as one of your national delegates. I am currently a member of the NUS Wales Executive committee, steering officer for the NUS Wales Women’s campaign, and have been a delegate to Wales and UK NUS conferences before. NUS is more than just a card. It is millions of people studying higher education’s voices. We often criticise NUS, and to call it exclusive, but we can only change it by being sat at the table, to shape an organisation this union pays a lot to be a member of. This conference will see discussions on immigration, access to higher education, fees, funding and probably a demonstration. It is vital we are there, not only representing the students of Aberystwyth but also a voice for the students of Wales. It is really important that we do not let NUS UK be dominated by the priorities of English Russell Group universities alone. I am not a member of any political party, so the only things affecting my votes will be your views. I will be honest and say that, during my time as a student at least, I do not feel the SU did enough to make sure that students attending conferences were well informed about what the student body saw as its priorities, and if I am elected I will push for an open meeting when you can tell us what your priorities are,. As well as regular meetings with your academic reps, I have run a wide scale project to find out your educational priorities, so I hope I will be well informed enough when education policies have to be made.


Q: What are you looking for when electing NUS full time officers, which you will be if elected as an NUS UK delegate?

Will: Personally, I am looking for policies within the manifestos. I am also interested in their politics as well. A lot of them are backed by national political parties. Obviously this would not override someone with good policies and a good manifesto and I believe they could take it in a good direction, but I am concerned about the factionalism that lurks in the NUS at the moment so I would take that into account. I would also attend the parties before the vote where you can talk to the candidate, which I feel is a better way of learning about them than from their campaign and campaign team.

Grace: Firstly I’d look at their track record if they are already an officer, what have they done in office or their time as a sabbatical officer. Obviously read their manifestos, that goes without saying. Will made a point about political affiliation, factions and parties supporting a candidate who has an incredibly bad track record of voting on things like womens’ rights, so I would need to look to ensure I didn’t vote for a candidate whose views would damage our students. I would also be noticing in manifestos if they mentioned atypical students so their policies are not just for 18 year old English students studying for an undergraduate degree, whether they consider postgraduates, international students, BME, women, people like that, and they have a nuanced view on the student body. They’ll also get an extra point if they mention Wales, as most don’t.


Q: Will you attend every vote on the conference floor, or will you stay up ‘til 4am and miss the first few hours of each day?

Grace: Last year I attended every vote. It was an incredibly intense conference, very long hours, no lunch break, barely any access breaks. I was there for every vote. I believe that it has been raised with the conference organisers for this year, as it was horrendous last year; you could not send many delegates to it and hope they have a nice time and a productive time, so hopefully it’ll be more accessible. And yes, I will be at every vote like I was before.

Will: Yes, mirroring what Grace said, I attended every vote, physically if not mentally. We weren’t allowed to take food into conference, the Wi-Fi was limited, it was a bit of a mess really. In terms of staying alert, it was very difficult when you can’t eat. There weren’t many breaks, there was a lot of messing around, politically posturing by people, people ending up being ‘no-platformed’, too much stuff going on in the background and not enough caring about the students, that’s why I think it’s important to send people who are not politically motivated and are just there to represent the students.


Q: Do you believe there should be a national demonstration against tuition fees this year?

Will: My mum marched against tuition fees, and I am grateful to her for doing that. At the moment they tend to be farcical though, and also tend to be hijacked by rogue elements, as seen at Millbank with people throwing fire extinguishers off roofs and things like that. It gives politicians a reason to say ‘look at these students, they just smash things up.’ I think personally the best way we can send messages to students is to register them to vote and educate them that they are a large chunk of the population now, with nearly 50% of school leavers going to university, and we can franchise them and give them a vote and say on who runs the country. Politicians currently don’t care about students as they know they don’t vote.

Grace: Personally I would be against demonstrations. If students wanted a demonstration I’d be upset but I’d take their vote forward. Like Will said, demonstrations are an excellent way for politicians to deride students and derail very legitimate arguments and this is just another example of a very English led NUS. We have the Diamond review in Wales which is going to report after the General Election and now is the time to be contributing toward that in Wales, and not throwing bottles off bridges.


Q: In the year ahead, what is the biggest issue in your opinion facing NUS UK to be dealt with?

Grace: General Election 2015. The last election saw students absolutely shafted with hundreds of broken promises by politicians. What we need is a coordinated response to those politicians who betrayed students, and the way we do that is get students to vote. Old people rarely get shafted because politicians know they vote and students don’t, and we need to change that.

Will: As Grace said, General Election. This is a sticky situation, as many in the top levels of NUS are affiliated to political parties, especially Labour. I am not saying Labour are bad, they are probably better than the lot we have at the moment, but I think we need to make sure the push is to get students registered to vote, and to give them the education that they have a choice, they should read the manifestos, watch the election broadcasts and they know they are a big part of the population and do have a say. We need to make sure they go out and vote to ensure we don’t have the problems we’ve had before and are not faced with another tuition fee rise.

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Tomorrow (4th) hustings will take place for the full time position of Students’ Union President, which ASM will be providing live stream and live-blog coverage for from 12pm.

Manifestos currently available can be found in full here.