The GUSA Presidential Hustings is an opportunity for students to ask the candidates questions. Read our live blogging from when it happened here.
Tom Gebbie, the current GUSA President, welcomes a vibrant crowd into the room, a buzz of excitement filling the air. The room is packed with enthusiastic supporters of all the candidates.
The melting pot of University of Glasgow sports clubs is on full display tonight, with every sport from sailing to tennis represented.
A sudden hush descends over the crowd as we begin, with the chair of the Hustings going over tonight’s format. A nod to tonight’s Twitter #GUSAelection15. Please feel free to get in touch!
Isabella Heath and Rebecca Boyle are the first to take the floor for the position of Welfare Convenor.
Rebecca Boyle emphasising her keenness to maintain the current Starfish group and continue to work on improving mental health awareness both within GUSA and further afield on campus.
Isabella Heath up now, outlining her past experience on the GUSA buddy system. She then goes onto demonstrate her passion in the fight for mental health wellness.
Questions will be taken at the end of both candidates’ speeches, and can also be tweeted @GUSAPresident.
Heath wants to help people stay active for their mental health and believes GUSA can help this.
First question: if you could only spend your budget on three things, what would they be?
Both candidates were recieved to huge cheers from the huge crowd.
Both candidates in agreement about funding a psychologist for the Starfish group. Boyle would also use funding for free gym membership, and increased use of “therapets” to combat stress.
The question coming from Alison Eadie who captains the Women’s Water Polo Team.
Second Question for Rebecca: Do she not feel that the expansion of the starfish event will not compromise the privacy of those involved?
Question for Isabella: How does she intend to promote the Buddy system?
Heath: the buddy system is one of the best things I signed up to at university, and it was so fulfilling to see the impact it had on my buddy. The system is not at all one-sided, and is totally beneficial to both people involved.
Rebecca tags on the back of Isabella’s answer by saying she will improve the way it is run by approaching freshers who may not necessarily be into sport and getting them involved – and this will increase those who participate.
Question: the partnership with SAMH has been great so far – how would you plan to build on that this year?
Rebecca: Having already worked with SAMH, I want to raise the profile of SAMH as it is an incredibily important cause and the need to get rid of mental health stigma is vital.
Isabella: I would like to organise more activities such as the council cycle which we did this year. I would organise regular email reminders to keep everyone engaged with what SAMH are up to, and events such as fun football matches to maintain a high level of awareness and momentum
The questions sway back to the Buddy system and how it would be promoted and ends with Isabella promising to fight for free gym memberships for all who are involved in volunteering for this.
Question from Tom Gebbie, current President: what projects would you promote to deter smoking across campus?
Rebecca – I don’t know if non-smoking is the most important, but we should use the publicity convenor to publish the benefits of not smoking and this should be done by ourselves and across campus with all the unions involved.
Isabella: I agree with Rebecca’s points about publicity; I will be on the back of this from the start to really push for what we have achieved this year and hope to build on that
Question – You both mentioned equality and diversity training, but why do you think this is so important?
Isabella: I think it’s important because it’s a way to take positive steps to counter any barriers that people might come across with regards to sport. There is already a member trained in every club, and now we need to focus on promoting that and making sure that people are aware of who to turn to
Rebecca – I think that although it is really great that all the clubs have been encouraged to have the one Equality Officer, I think it is a case of perhaps having one Officer for every year at the Uni.
Question from Caitlin Kelly, Presidential candidate for next year: what is your experience specifically with student welfare on campus, and what you feel your biggest success is so far?
Rebecca – I think my experiences of welfare are both within and outwith student wealthfare and I think my experience of dealing with a variety of mental health issues and with events like starfish speak for themselves.
Isabella – I’ve been involved with Starfish continuously and have been to every meeting; I know how this works and I know how to help out. I want to progress the Buddy system in every way I possibly can. I promoted the council cycle the full day when it was going on, and I think that publicity is the most important thing to focus on in achieving my aims for the next year
On that final question, the chair thanks the two for their time and they leave to a big applause from the crowd. Travel Convenor up next!
Oliver Hawes from the Rifle and Gun committee.
Michal Orzeg-Wydra up next.
Orzeg-Wydra: my aims are to keep up-to-date logged information and to liaise with the security staff to keep everything running smoothly. I will ensure that all travel during Fresher’s week is organised, and will pursue the option of travel outwith campus to avoid hassle for club members
Question: what are your views on clubs being charged £50 for buses when this has not previously been mentioned?
Both candidates wholly opposed to this fee, and will work towards reducing and avoiding this where possible.
The crowd remain quiet as the questions move onto audio cables in buses. Orzeg-Wydra speaks of his past experiences with cables being stolen and that he would be more interested in having working radios on all the mini-buses.
The questions move onto the smaller clubs and their need for transport – both candidates suggest that mini-buses may not be ideal for teams under five and that GUSA funding these teams using cars or renting smaller cars may be the solution.
Both candidates with largely similar answers to questions fielded at them. Both keen to improve the administrative system and uphold what has been established in previous years.
The room remains eerily quiet with Orzeg-Wydra’s booming voice filing through the rows of attentive supporters.
BUCS a high area of demand for GUSA transport. Candidates in agreement over wanting to prevent the need for private members’ cars being used to transport teams to competition.
A contentious question about the handling of this year’s council brings the crowd to life, as those in the room heckle with one another – all in good spirit! Orzeg-Wydra and Hawes swat aside the question with ease.
How do you see yourself working with unions for gender equality?
Thais: Campus wide campaigns. “the issue here is a problem with society in general.” Thais also advocated teamwork with the unions and felt that working with welfare officers is a start, because they know the unions, what works and what doesn’t.
Orzeg-Wydra: I would be the first point of contact for clubs who are missing drivers etc. I will try to address this very quickly rather than leaving clubs with this burden.
Hawes apears to avoid the question and we move on.
Hands raise to the ceiling as club captains eagerly seek to question the two candidates.
Former GUSA President Stuart Law asks if both can drive – he is met with a reaffirming ‘yes’ from both.
Question for Hawes: do you think it is realistic to say in your manifesto that clubs will only need to clean the buses once a year?
Hawes replies by saying that with 49 clubs this is achievable. Orzeg-Wydra responds with a stronger answer: this is proportionate to how much individual clubs actually use them.
Lots of questions being fielded to the current President concerning financing travel arrangements.
The next question involves international student drivers with them being asked if they will pay for the permits for international students to drive. Tom Gebbie steps in to explain why this is in place and that it is UK Law rather than GUSA. The questioner appears unhappy and fires back to ask if GUSA will pay for these – the chair forbids as it is beyond the travel convenor power and we move on. A contentious issue that has the room divided. Hats off to Tom for stepping in.
Question: what experience other than that with GUSA do you have which would be relevant for undertaking this job?
Orzeg-Wydra: I’m a good communicator and good with team-work. Laughter in the audience to a comment about coming from a family with 9 kids, and having lots of experience in the area as a result.
After a round of applause for the Travel contestants, next up is Sagar Ghelani, uncontested for the role of Recreation convenor.
Question: if you had been contested, what would your strategy have been?
Ghelani replies by saying that he would only want the best contestant to win, rather than winning himself – a popular answer with the audience.
Some stream back in from their toilet break, relief etched on their faces as the chair stops Sagar for questions.
Question – You mentioned the decline in the recreational league – why do you think this happened and what do you plan to do to stop that?
Ghelani: I think this was mainly down to a funding issue. I’m sure the bigger sports are still keen to encourage people into smaller leagues to get experience and improve their fitness.
And with the final question, Ghelani leaves to applause.
The hugely important Publicity Convenor up now.
Peter McCluskey, School of Education Representative:
He wishes to increase the dialogue between the school and the SRC, specifically with regards to placements and students being placed schools too far away, or in denominational schools.
Also says he would set up a Facebook page, drop in sessions, and personal contact to engage with constituents.
Romain Ricchi’s highlight from his opening remark is to introduce a scheme which will see all the clubs being trained on how to fully promote their clubs and to take pictures of their clubs. He wants to feature a monthly newsletter which will see the clubs summarise their results
Passionate opening from both candidates – the crowd are loving it!
Question: you’ve mentioned a lot about increasing the use of social media, how would you use it to promote events?
Sasso – (With real passion! ) If you have an event and I create a poster, I think the best thing about PR is to let everyone know what you are doing. I am naturally good with software and I can show the teams how to use them and spread the news. I will share my knowledge with the events team and they can help me out.
Sasso certainly has the self belief for the role – and some in the crowd certainly agree. Pretty sure those in the front row edged back a bit.
Ricchi: I’d be keen to introduce individual publicity specialists within each clubs to get things done quicker and more efficiently.
Question – It’s quite clear you both have experience with software, but as the role has a lot to do with writing, what experience do you have for this role?
Ricchi: I was a member of the library team at the GUU and wrote our pieces for the magazine frequently. I worked on the new layout and having been to all the meetings I know what is needed. I can write and I can provide help to other people. I want to bring my past experience to the role, but make it better.
Sasso – First of all, I believe publicity this year has been great – Olivia is a really good writer. For me, as more of a photographer than a person, I will bring my promotion from this and design. I cannot tell the clubs what to write, they have to tell me. As a Civil Engineer, I frequently read reports and just know what to say.
Is it true that heat rises? If so, we made a mistake sitting near the top row.
Question: You’ve both spoken in your manifestos about working closely with clubs, but the way the council structure has evolved, the club sport convenor will take charge of a lot of club sport publicity. How will you promote GUSA and its work as a whole?
Sasso – Basically, as long as you know what GUSA is doing, you make your plan. I am a really structured person and can comfortaly sit down with a plan. In order to PR, you need to understand the best point about that event, or whatever.
It’s safe to say, whoever is elected, we can expect plenty of flyers and posters from GUSA next year!
A slightly more hesitant answer from Ricchi, however he would be keen to ensure that Instagram posts are embedded on the GUSA Facebook page in order to reach a larger audience
Question: If the alumni convenor came to you looking for help on reaching older alumni who are not as well connected with social networking, what would you recommend?
Sasso – I think most of us are a generation who use email, and I think we should create a database with all this info (who would run this database, I wonder?). We would have names, clubs and can push our news both through email and clubs.
Ricchi – As part of the Water Polo club, I know that we have a database of contact details for our alumni. I believe that most of the alumni will be on Facebook; I have a 70-year old neighbour who is, so I don’t think it’s unrealistic!
Question – Do you think it is important to encourage clubs to have a publicity convenor, and how would you encourage the clubs to get one who don’t?
Ricchi – A smaller club cannot get bigger if it doesn’t have any publicity.
Sasso – If your club is quite small, I don’t think you need a publicity convenor. If you have enough people, the bigger your club is, the harder it is to control. I think that even the secretary of smaller clubs is capable of taking care of smaller clubs
Question: If you could only use one form of physical publication, e.g. posters or wristbands to promote GUSA, what would you go for?
Sasso – It’s really simple. A flyer is small, so it’s handy, it can go anywhere, and one can explain what we are doing when we hand it to people.
Sasso demonstrates with someone in the front row – ‘Will you come?’ – and the crowd love it.
Ricchi – I would agree with using flyers. It’s much easier to distribute them and reach more people.
And that is it from the Publicity Convenors, who have certainly entertained. Up next, Health and Fitness Convenor, which is an uncontested position, with Claire Minto the only candidate. Anyways, she is up now and giving her opening remarks.
Claire Minto highlighting the point that nutrition awareness is key to success. It’s important to realise the needs of individuals, and to reach a lot of people by working closely with the Publicity team.
No questions from the floor for Claire , but one unfortunate ladt comes back in from a comfort break and breaks the unfortunate silence.
With no questions, we move on.
After escaping unscathed, following Claire Minto is Emma Stephen, running for Fundraising Convenor.
A quick speech by Emma covering her hopes for a GUSA Ceilidh at the end of the year to raise funds for its chosen charity.
The Finance Convenor and as the two candidates step up, the crowd goes wild. Michael Baker goes first and he will be followed by Ruari Thomson.
A confident start from Michael, who “wants to bring GUSA into the 21st century” to the approval of the audience.
Some big promises such as encouraging clubs to use internet banking – an interesting idea, but how safe would it be for the students? The crowd are happy though.
The crowd seem to react even stronger to Thomson, with some even waving a club shirt in support! Onto the questions, and thankfully we have some.
Question: What is your knowledge of GUSA with regards to the Finance side of things, and what would be your experience qualifying you to deal with this?
Thomson – I have a really good understanding with claims forms and finance forms and what this involves for the clubs. As the Finance Convenor I would offer as much support as possible to the Club treasurers.
Question from Caitlin Kelly: the grant that we receive from the university is not enough to cover all clubs. How do you plan to subsidise the funding that GUSA provides in order to help clubs achieve their potential?
Baker – (Long pause) For clubs that haven’t had their kit replaced for a long time, we will look to buy kits which will last a really long time. In terms of the average club, I think we should be given clubs a little bit more money who do really well at BUCS. But we need to do this on an individual basis.
Thomson: The GUSA budget is stretched pretty thin and there’s 50 clubs to cover. I think that with help and with healthy allocation of the budget, we could really push external funding. I would be really willing to go for lottery funding and to help clubs with this application process, as I have experience in the area.
The chair tries to find out how many questions there are, and several hands try to rise higher than the others, we could be at this one for a long time.
Moving onto the topic of the Chancellor’s fund, Thomson speaks about introducing a university-wide email to promote as many people as possible applying to the fund for subsidies.
Baker believes it has been under-publicised and that we should be explaining to people what it is; we need to get the word out.
A question for Michael : In your manifesto, you want to create a spreadsheet for conatacts for all the clubs – but this already exists. How would you plan on improving this?
Baker awkwardly answers that he intends to improve this list.
The current Finance convenor points out to Michael that introducing an online banking account for GUSA is a very difficult process, as this was something that she had looked towards doing in her role. There are accountants that work for the university, and the council do not have the time to handle this – how else would he cope with this?
Baker replies that if a club pays GUSA the wrong money or isn’t very specific about where it has come from, then it is not GUSA’s fault.
The questioner tries to respond but is cut off by the Chair. Things are heating up!
Club sport Convenor candidates up next, and it’s Alex Mas and Alexander Thom
Both candidates finish and in a flurry of excitement, leave the stage. Some of the crowd appear to have had enough and begin to flood out from the hall. But we move on and now it’s Alex Mas and Alexander Thom up for Club Sport Convenor.
Before the speeches, the chair thanks us for staying and for our continued attention – at least a third of the audience must have left.
However, this hasn’t deterred the candidates, with Alex up first to deliever a prominent speech, bringing in his experience with the Muay Tai club and their incredibly succesful App. He is warmly recieved.
Now onto the questions.
Question : Would you guys like to prioritise certain clubs for your visits?
Alexander Thom has three main aims: making better use of the Sportify facility and expanding that; creating a ‘Wednesday buzz’ for fixtures and encouraging more publicity by clubs. Finally, giving smaller clubs a level of priority at freshers’ week in order to recruit new members.
Mas – It will really be on a first come, first serve basis, as I cannot wait around for the rugby club if I am to see hockey. Ideally, I would like to get around all the clubs, but it is not always managable.
Question – I have a question about facilities, especially with the snow, we were badly affected, and I was wondering if there is anything you guys can do to help us find last minute facilities?
The chair reworks the question.
Mas – As Alexander said, it is almost impossible to do at the last minute. But, I think we could have three sessions a week with the third used as a back up.
Question: how would you be able to maintain the system that you want to implement when you’re no longer in the position?
Mas carefully explains and brings out laughter from the crowd when he compares himself to any idiot – he certainly has the charisma.
Question: All clubs are allocated the same amount of space in the freshers’ faire, and all get the same opportunities for demo sessions. How would you ensure that all clubs are fairly treated?
Thom – I think it another issue of prioritising. How can I put this, if you look at the hockey club, they are big already, but for the smaller clubs, we should maybe be offering them the slots at the Freshers.
Mas – I know that muay thai was late in applying, and that a lot of sports have the chance to, but they don’t. We could arrange slots for two smaller clubs to share at prime times.
And that concludes the Club Sport Convenor who leaves to applause – but sadly they don’t appear to be fighting it out. But Thursday is another day.
The final contested position up now, the Alumni Convenor with Alexandra Sawyer and James Pulham up now. They will now offer their opening remarks.
Pulham expressing enthusiasm to organise events for alumni to come back and see how their club has progressed, in addition to a regular newsletter in order to maintain strong connections with them
Sawyer up next : As a second year and part of the netball club, GUSA has played a big role for me. I play a lot of netball, and playing twice a week, I see how much work goes into the Sport services.
I would like to start a newsletter generally about GUSA, benefit discounts – offered to alumni – and with the gym opening, I think it would be good to have an event where we bring back some of the alumni. But finally, I would want to do an alumni v current event (this is recieved extremely well from the crowd and sounds like a very good idea! )
Question: Do you think it’s your job to encourage clubs to bring back their own alumni? Do you want to focus on more insular events, or concentrate on representing GUSA as a whole?
Sawyer : Obviously I can’t run every alumni event, but I think I should be there to support as much as possible.
From the current Alumni Convenor: One thing that I have struggled with this year is contacting older alumni, how would you handle this?
Both candidates fend off a variety of quesitons involving their experiences and how they would implement their ideas – both fully emphasise their experiences as a cadet (Pulham) and on the netball team (Sawyer)
Sawyer focusing on links with clubs and pushing their connections with previous members. She feels that keeping an updated database of contacts is the best way to maintain these links
Now, it is onto the final uncontested positions – Secretary, Vice President and President. It is disappointing that the biggest roles are uncontested, but hopefully the candidates will live up to the expectations. Secretary up first, as Charlotte Howard takes to the front
Howard up first and outlines several key aspects of her manifesto, which the crowd love. With no questions, we move on.
Brogan Sinclair is welcomed by cheers and rapturous applause. Running for the role of Vice President, she speaks of her ‘unrivaled enthusiasm’ for the position, and her hopes to continue the legacy of the GUSA Ball. She will review GUSA’s sponsorship structure, and ensure that the association remains attractive to corporate sponsors
We have some questions!
Question : What are the main challenges you will face?
Sinclair: I’d say that one of my greatest weaknesses is not being able to leave something unfinished, so I’d say keeping control of time management and keeping on top of all of our projects
As the VP leaves, we have the final candidate, the Presidential Candidate, Caitlin Kelly.
She promises to keep it short and someone in the crowd cheers.
Make sure to check our exclusive interview with Kelly in tomorrow’s Guardian.
Kelly’s main manifesto points include working with the SRS to source the best quality coaches for clubs.
As as for the extension to the Stevenson, Kelly is keen to keep membership costs down for all students. She will ensure more regular meetings with the rest of the council Convenors to keep on top of everyone’s ongoing projects
Kelly is received to great applause and now prepares to answer some questions.
Question: Is it through sheer fear alone that you have taken up the post?
Laughter from the audience and from Kelly herself
Kelly – No!
A question from Twitter now regarding the rumours of gym memberships rising – Kelly denies that anything is in place now and that the rumours are only that. She suggests that the idea of tiered membership fees may be an idea.
As the final question, Kelly sits down to applause and the chair gives his final remarks, wishing all the candidates good luck!
And with that, that concludes the Guardian’s live coverage of the GUSA Hustings event. It has been an exciting night and there has been plenty for each of the candidates to talk about.
Selena and I would like to thank you for following our feed and make sure to pick up your copy of the Guardian tomorrow, with our interview with Caitlin Kelly, and continue to follow our coverage online.
Thanks and goodnight!