Image: Erin Davies

Candidate Question Time kicks off 2014 SU elections

Candidate Question Time returned to the atrium on Monday 24 February and Tuesday 25 February to mark the start of elections week at the Students’ Union (SU).

Turnouts appeared to be similar to last year, with around 30 people viewing the candidate hustings for education officer, postgraduate officer, societies officer and sports officer.

That number rose to about 50 for Question Time with the candidates for welfare and campaigns officer, democracy and development officer, and president.

The candidates each gave a short speech about why they were running for the position, answered questions submitted anonymously by students, and then took questions from the floor.

Education officer

Potential education officers faced questions first from current democracy and development officer Cosmo March. Maahwish Mirza, Carl Mohr and Aiden Press are all running for the position.
When questioned about improving diversity at Warwick University, Ms Mirza mentioned that she had benefited from the University’s ‘Gold’ scholarship program, which aims to recruit students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We need to ensure Warwick continues to be one of the leading Russell Group universities in terms of diversity,” she said.
Photo: Erin Davies

Photo: Erin Davies

When faced with the same question, Mr Mohr replied that organised games of hide-and-seek on Wednesday afternoon would help promote diversity on campus.

He stated that the role of education officer “shouldn’t be focused so much on education”.
Mr Press underlined his commitment to increasing the amount of funding for further study at Warwick.

“We need a loan system like we have for undergraduates,” he said.

Postgraduate officer

Running for the position of postgraduate officer are Matt Davies and Andrew Thompson.

Both candidates agreed on many issues such as the need for better pay, postgraduate funding, more lecture halls and postgraduate offices, and accessible accommodation information for international students.

On making sure that postgraduate voices were represented, Mr Davies emphasised the idea of being the “loudest, most annoying sabb”, while Mr Thompson stressed the need to “speak to and go out to the postgraduate community”.

Both also wanted to encourage more undergraduates to stay on for postgraduate study. Mr Thompson’s idea to introduce tuition fee discounts for Warwick undergraduates who go on to do postgraduate study was seconded by Mr Davies.

Societies officer

Isaac Leigh is the only candidate running for the position of societies officer.

He answered questions about improving the participation of minority groups, his opinion on the number of societies and the society which impressed him most last year.

He also addressed issues regarding the cooperation between long established and new societies, and presented his vision for the societies officer role: “Communications is the key. My door will be always open. I hope to come across as an enthusiastic person who can adapt to do things differently.”

The societies officer position is subject to re-open nominations (RON), as are the other sabbatical positions, to allow an alternative vote.

Sports officer

There are three female candidates for the position of sports officer: Ruby Compton-Davies, Ruth Leong-Scanlan, and Shamira Naidu-Young.

They all outlined the basics of their manifestos and were asked questions about the new Warwick Sport Review, raising disability awareness, problems with not enough chairs in the Copper Rooms and the usual concern about drinking going too far during circling.

Photo: Erin Davies

Photo: Erin Davies

The Warwick Sport Review certainly seemed to be controversial with varying degrees of popularity between the candidates. Ms Naidu-Young said: “It seems to be asking for more money from the clubs, and not telling us what we’re going to get for it.”

Ms Leong-Scanlan added: “We haven’t been given the details of the full benefits yet.”Ms Compton-Davies further suggested listening to feedback from sports clubs on the Review and tailoring it to their needs. All of the candidates agreed however that the benefits of the Review need to be clearly outlined.

Democracy and development officer

These candidates are Robert Ankcorn and Yolly Chegwidden.

Mr Ankcorn has advocated the introduction of 60-second highlight videos of All Student Meetings, an online policy forum where students can float ideas for changes to SU policy, and a universal loyalty card for SU food and drink outlets.

He stated: “I will make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved in the SU.”

Ms Chegwidden championed the idea of a campaign to have students register to vote at the beginning of the next academic year, in time for the General Election, and bringing in MPs to talk to students.

“I want to make the SU a place where students want to come for a night out,” she commented.

She also pledged to work with societies during International Orientation, to encourage international students to engage with SU democracy.

Welfare and campaigns officer

Running for the position of welfare and campaigns officer are four female candidates: Shadi Brazell, Bebe Hasakova, Sarah Witt and Brenda Wong.

All four candidates expressed similar views on most topics, as they were faced with questions on student support services, postgraduate housing and mental health.

Photo: Erin Davies

Photo: Erin Davies

Ms Brazell, in relation to the postgraduate housing crisis in term one, voiced her commitment to ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. She described the crisis as “an absolute nightmare”.

Ms Hasakova stressed that postgraduate housing “has to be a priority”, with the other candidates taking a similar stance.

Candidates made proposals for improving support services around the University, with Ms Witt speaking of her “Warwick support card” idea which would see all students have access to a small card containing all support contact details.

Ms Wong similarly stressed the importance of getting support information out to the whole student body, claiming that student support black books are “only available to freshers”.

President

For the presidential position, third-presidency-attempt Aaron Bowater, Dieudonne Munyabarenzi, and existing welfare and campaigns officer Cathryn Turhan answered questions that included SU nightlife, postgraduate issues and the recent strikes.

While all candidates had similar views to maximise funding and grants to students, as well as supporting the strikes, they were divided on other topics.

When asked to define the presidency role and comment on its validity, Ms Turhan said that it was a “figurehead” for the sabbatical team, Mr Munyabarenzi said that it included “attempt[ing] to change the world”, and Mr Bowater considered shifting some of the democracy and development responsibilities over.

Noticeable comments from the candidates included Mr Bowater’s proposition to set up a ‘Greggory’s’ store in the SU in the event of extra funding.

After being asked how each candidate would be able to work within the sabbatical team, Mr Munyabarenzi said that if it was in his “interests”, he “would be able to work with (the sabbatical team)”.

Meanwhile, Ms Turhan was keen to build on her progress made as a current officer this year.

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Voting opens at 9am on Wednesday 26 February and closes at 9pm on Friday 28 February.

As well as for the main sabbatical positions presented in the hustings, SU members will also be able to vote for the positions of environment and ethics officer, disabled students officer, ethnic minorities officer, LGBTUA+ officer, women’s officer, and undergraduate representatives for the arts faculty, the social sciences faculty, the engineering and experimental sciences and physics and formal sciences.

Join the news team on Twitter and online to follow the results of the elections at 10pm on Friday 28 February.

Elections week can be followed on Twitter and Facebook using the hash tag #WarwickVotes.

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