SRC 2012 interviews President: James Harrison

Published

Harrison is the candidate with most direct SRC experience in this presidential election. His role currently is as the SRC’s vice president for learning and development. His support is strong online and his orange t-shirts have already started making appearances at campus events in the run up to polling, hinting at a well-organised campaign. Harrison’s manifesto’s main themes centre around democratic reform and building on what he sees as the organisation’s previous success.

Q&A

Guardian: MyCampus has been a major issue for much of this year. Do you think the worst problems, like difficulty of access for the visually impaired, will be sorted? If not, what would you like to see the SRC do to bring forward a solution?

Harrison: I am cautiously hopeful that the majority of software problems with MyCampus can be fixed by the next academic year, as the university have been putting considerable resources into fixing all problematic areas that have been highlighted. Over the summer months I’ll ask if SRC council members and our advice centre team can have a run through of the newly updated MyCampus to ensure that all problems have been dealt with. I believe the main problem that is still facing MyCampus however is the lack of training that many staff have been undertaking. Last year we had several staff just not bother with the training, leading to many of the problems that we faced during the registration period as there was confusion not only on the student side but on the staff side. Following the resignation of the last SRC president, I sit on a few of the committees that will be dealing with these issues and I will strongly emphasise now and over the next year the extreme importance of administrative and advisory staff undertaking the training required to use the system.

While the implementation of the new advising system last year was a separate issue to MyCampus, the fact is that again many of the new advisors are not dealing with the system well, and many staff members who should be signing up to become advisors are not doing so after seeing the problems of last year. Many advisors of studies are now finding themselves responsible for hundreds upon hundreds of students, and we really need the university to act on making sure we have enough well-trained advisors of studies to accommodate our student population.

Guardian: In what ways do you think being a current sabbatical officer helps or hinders your campaign? Does being in an office for a year limit your campus profile?

Harrison: Working as part of an executive team over the past year at the SRC has also allowed me to see what has been working and what hasn’t, and I think I’ll be a great help to the other vice presidents as they get settled in to their new roles. For me running freshers’ week was an absolutely terrifying prospect at first, but I know that if I’m president I’ll be able to help reassure the new VP learning and development about how to deal with some of the issues best. Overall, and especially following some of the internal problems last year, I know that to be SRC president you must know that you are an equal member of the team, and not merely the boss. I know I will work well with whoever is elected, and will be a confident voice to speak out on behalf of our students – I’ve already been doing it for the past year!

Insider Odds

2/1

A lot of support on Facebook, insider knowledge of the SRC and a dedicated campaign team make Harrison the obvious frontrunner in this election. But with well-known challengers and a joke campaign with lots of support, this won’t be an easy campaign.