Eye on SU President candidates 09

Deputy Editor Harry Lincoln caught up with this year’s candidates for the University of Lincoln Students’ Union President position.

Daniel Hutchinson has withdrawn his candidacy for SU President.
Stacie Ridley has not been available for an interview with The Linc.

Christopher Charnley

Age: 22
Course studying: Public Relations
Year of course: 3rd

Q: Presuming that you are elected for the position you are running for, what is the first change you would like to make? And more importantly, how do you plan to implement it?

A: If elected, I first plan on working on how the Union engages and communicates with students. This needs an overhaul, finding more effective, interesting and more engaging ways to communicate so that students know what their Union is doing and more importantly, provoking an interest. Other areas of my manifesto are just as important. However, without good communication and student engagement we won’t be able to achieve them. How will I make this happen? By having an SU team that works as one, this year.

Q: How is your past experience/university course going to help you implement changes if you get elected?

A: Being from a Public Relations background means communication and creativity are key fundamental skills I’ve developed whilst being at university. The issue our SU faces is a lack of representation and communication, which can be resolved by good PR through promoting the great things our union does, who they are and what they stand for. My degree will provide the foundation for my presidency, if elected.

Q: What made you apply for this position?

A: Whilst working on Bullet Magazine over my time at university, I became increasingly annoyed by the limitations within the Union. I felt that there was a lack of enthusiasm and creativity amongst officers. A Union within each university should be a hub of creativity, excitement and always pushing the bar to increase the standard of student experience both locally and nationally. If elected officers can’t be enthusiastic about what they’re doing and stand for; how can they interest students in taking part? A lot of students don’t know about what the SU does, or who their officers are. Faced with a massive issue with communicating with students, I want to make sure that students at the university have the best possible experience; they pay enough to have that entitlement.

Q: What do you think University of Lincoln students want and need most now?

A: Students need a President and team that work effectively for the things that they want and need. They need a team to remain in touch and current to their needs; a recognisable and accessible figurehead to the Union from which they can get to know and learn more about what their Union has to offer. A president that’s willing to fight for the things they need; someone to ensure the right changes are being made.

Read Christopher’s manifesto

Tom Haughton

Age: 22
Hometown: Lincoln
Course you are studying: MA Theatre and Consciousness

Q: Presuming that you are elected for the position you are running for, what is the first change you would like to make? And more importantly, how do you plan to implement it?

A: I would like to give the Union back to students regardless of their diversity group, campus or level of study. Every Student Union Member has a voice and this should be heard in the Union and taken to the appropriate level in the University. As our term would begin during the summer holidays, I would work with all officers to plan the use of different media to enable all students to be aware of the Union and how they can get involved. I would also work with the officers to develop a schedule [for] maximum officer coverage on the satellite campuses.

Q: How is your past experience/university course going to help you implement changes if you get elected?

A: Having worked in the Union last year I am fully aware of the constitution, practices and policies. This will allow me to hit the ground running and effect change quickly. I have also, over my last two years, developed strong working relationships with staff at all levels in the University. This would also help to move projects and ideas along so that they can be in place for the start of term.

Q: What made you apply for this position?

A: I am applying for this position as I feel that I am the right candidate for the job. I will be able to use my past experiences to positively affect the position of the Students’ Union at the university. I will be able to effectively communicate with the senior members of the university and carry the student voice in to the important decision making boards and committees; working with the university to make the student experience a better one at Lincoln.

Q: What do you think University of Lincoln students want and need most now?

A: I believe that students need better representation to the university, the community and nationally. The students need someone who can deliver what they want. I feel that students need someone active and knowledgeable on new proposals which will affect the standing of the university and ultimately their degree’s credentials, e.g. the tuition fee review, and the proposals of turning new universities (such as Lincoln) back to polytechnics. Students need to know the influence they have within the Union and how they can express this through representative bodies such as council and the Union AGM.

Read Tom’s manifesto

James Mason

Age: 23
Your hometown: Cambridge
Course you are studying: Media Production
Year of course: 3rd

Q: Presuming that you are elected for the position you are running for, what is the first change you would like to make? And more importantly, how do you plan to implement it?

A: Should I be elected, the first change that I would make is better communication between all campuses and the elected officers. Over the past week of campaigning and speaking to the students from other campuses, they have told me that they didn’t know what the union does or felt left out. Should I be elected, I want to change that by having a weekly meeting with all elected officers, which will be recorded and made readily available. [I would] also go to all campuses once a month to hear what their issues are.

Q: How is your past experience/university course going to help you implement changes if you get elected?

A: From my past experience of studying media, I have learnt the ways of being able to communicate to people and I believe that is what is important. Communication [should] not just for the few, but for all. I believe that is what the president should be; a communicator not just a figurehead.

Q: What made you apply for this position?

A: I decided to apply for the position as I have been a student officer for the Union over the past year. After much consideration, I decided that I would run for the presidency. I feel that, as I have done this job already, I have had some of the experience that is needed and with this experience I believe that I can fix what was wrong with this year by having that inside knowledge.

Q: What do you think University of Lincoln students want and need most now?

A: What I think they want and need is change for the better; a team that will work for the students to represent, participate and inspire those students to become actively involved with the Union. I also believe that we need a strong president who will enact these changes and make the students believe in the Union once again.

Read James’ manifesto

7 Responses to Eye on SU President candidates 09

  1. Ben says:

    Why didn’t all candidates take the time to be interviewed?

    Completely says everything if someone can’t be bothered to take the time and answer a few short questions.

  2. Rachel says:

    James’ statements confuse me – he says that as he has already done the job he has inside knowledge, but he also says he has just found out “Over the past week of campaigning and speaking to the students from other campuses, they have told me that they didn’t know what the union does or felt left out.”

    I’m sorry, but for someone that claims to have an understanding of the University because he is already working with the Exec how come this has only just ‘realised’ that students feel this way. This is major common knowledge – come on!

  3. Dave says:

    The majority of the candidates are giving quite a lot of spiel, but there doesn’t seem to be very much distinction between them. In answering the first question, every one interviewed here said “I’m giving it back to the students.” Woo and yay. How?

    Question two:

    Chris: Surely a PR background means you can put spin on things. Wouldn’t a Politics course be better suited to running a major part of a university student’s life?

    Tom: That’s a great answer. Puts confidence in you, and I think that if we were given a bit more information, that would be a viable start to office.

    James: Media’s definitely important as far as communication is concerned, but isn’t that similar to the PR situation with Chris?

    Question three:

    Chris: Good answer, but still just talking about having a chat with students. Still not sure where the policies are coming from, exactly. However, you’re damn right we’ve paid for a great deal from the university and union alike, and it’d be nice to see them get more involved with the student experience.

    Tom: You’re the right candidate for the job? No explanation whatsoever – makes me doubt that, to be honest. You’ve been asked what made you run for the presidency, not why you should win.

    James: Experience = something we probably need at the moment. I don’t know how many share my views, but I really don’t have much confidence in the union as it is – it seems to be people just looking for glory rather than actually looking to change it. Hoping whomever is voted in is the former, and I guess experience wouldn’t hurt.

    Question Four:

    Chris: That’s pretty much a dictionary definition of what a student union and the president thereof are supposed to do. I’m glad you see that the union is a long long way from this, but I’m unsure (still) what you’re planning to do to bring it back.

    Tom: Definitely – spot on. You’ve got the idea, but again, it’s all about implementation.

    James: Agreed again. Not sure who’s the strongest candidate to be fair (and I guess putting things like that up here will make the boards opinionated), but as with Tom and Chris, you know exactly where this union should be. I like the idea of getting students increasingly involved in the union, rather than being “the voice of the students for them”, as the other two seem to want to be.

    I always thought that a president of society, country or union should take on board the grievances of their members and want to change accordingly or provide suitable and good reasons for why the people’s wishes are not possible. At present, much of the candidacy is determined to become the voice for students across all of Lincoln, instead of listening to them. It’s a shame, really – James’s last point gets closest to listening, but we still need to make sure that the voted in candidate will listen properly.

    As for the other candidates – if they cannot be bothered to provide an interview or a decent reason why they can’t answer the questions, I wouldn’t give them the time of day for a vote. That’s another key thing for a president – talking to the people you’re looking to win over, no?

    @Rachel: I think he means the students from the other campuses – the spotlight’s hardly fixed on them (let alone us at brayford campus!) a lot of the time, and I guess they have more right to feel left out than us. Rumour has it that Vicky (the current Welfare Officer) is the only one who’s ever been up to Riseholme & Hull.

    Also… Did you read any of the others? Kinda looks like an attack on James, as it stands…

  4. Rachel says:

    Hi Dave,

    I think you raise some good points and I look forward to hearing what the candidates have to say – so I really hope they all take the time out to respond!

    Regards to you feeling that my comment sounds like a personal attack – it isn’t that, I am a third year and will be moving on this year and if I wasn’t I would be quite happy with any other of the three at all. Yes, they all sound a bit homogonous but that is because they have all identified the same problem so they do say the same thing.

    But I have taken the time out to study their manifestos, these post, and speak to them all and James worries me. I’m sorry but he does!! He is the one candidate that I would not want to win, I’m sorry but that is how I feel, and all I can do is go by this. There is three strong candidates and I really wish them luck, but all I have seen in James is worrying.

    Also regards to your comment ref the other exec members going to other campuses. I don’t know about Hull but I do know that they have regularly come to Riseholme, I personally saw Kayleigh and Chris there just three weeks ago. Whether they come up regularly enough is another issue that does need addressing though.

  5. Chris Charnley says:

    Dave, thanks for the response to our interview. It’s great to see someone challenging our actions during campaign and voting week. You have some really good comments.

    When talking about PR, It isn’t a case of spinning what the Union does, from a PR point of view. It’s about promoting , representing and communicating every aspect of what the Union does with students. How do I plan on putting the Union back in touch with students? It’s about fighting for the things that students want. Our University has some of the best facilities around the UK, however they remain out of touch with the student lifestyle and often remain unused to their full benefit to the student body.

    This year the Union has fallen out of touch because the students don’t relate to the officers elected. The President leads by example, surely its a case of if your President won’t be seen to be doing something, or having an active interest within their Union – how can you expect students?

    As for Politics, the Union is facing massive issues with regards to communication and representation – a weak reputation and image. A union should be exciting, engaging and constantly raising the bar for students and increasing their experience at University to the best it could possibly be. These are all PR issues, not Politics. Daniel H is a great guy, however his Political tactics this year didn’t work because issues around the lack of clear communication and representation weren’t resolved at the start and objectives weren’t achieved.
The role of president is not, as a lot of people assume, a mainly political role. Yes politics is an advantage. But when it comes down to it the role of SU president has many aspects of that require man management skills, team leadership, problem solving, and ability to think outside of the box, as well as PR.

    I can’t tell you how I’m going to achieve the things within my manifesto until the new team is elected and the issues with communication and a poor union image are resolved – that’s why I didn’t mention them in my interview. It would be pointless fighting for something with no student engagement because they don’t know what’s going on or to get involved.

    Experience is crucial to filling this role, which I have gained during my three years at University. Working on summer placements at high profile brands I’ve developed experience in management, leadership, problem solving, etc along with working at Bullet. My abilities regarding to an understanding of University politics, I don’t feel the need for a full grasp of international politics, just a National understanding here at home is all that is required, and a determination to finally find out what students want us to do.

  6. Tom Haughton says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write the review on our answers.

    Firstly, for question two, having been involved in the Union last year it surprised me on how long it takes good working relationships to become established. I feel having worked with senior university staff it will be a simple case of refreshing these relationships rather than building them from scratch, which would be instrumental for getting the Union in a position to hit the ground running for when September comes and the students return.

    Question three, I was trying to convey the skills that I have that would be ideal for this job, and therefore the reasons why I decided to run. I decided to run after speaking with students who didn’t know what the Union was and what it could do for them. In my eyes students are the union. It is the students who should be telling the officers in what direction they want their union to go and not the other way round. This is why I wanted to run for President.

    As to question four, this should be the priority of the team next year to let all students know how they can implement change within the union and the best way to communicate with them, whether it was face to face, or via emails or facebook. This can be done but initially making all the officers visible would be the best way to start.

  7. Amanda says:

    Well done to all the candidates – but a special congrats to the new President – Chris Charnley