Coverage of SRC Sabbatical Hustings about to begin.
Vice President (Student Activities) up first. Ameer Ibrahim is running unopposed for this position on the Executive.
Ibrahim says that he has been involved with 22 societies during his time at university and that all students deserve those opportunities too. Communication with students, using social media, is key to his strategy.
Ibrahim says that he apologises for his absence from SRC Council meetings over the last year as International Students Officer, but says that he believes in a more active form of representation. He says that he will attend every Council meeting this year.
Elliot Napier asks how Ibrahim will make Freshers’ Week available to mature students, many of whom do not use social media. Ibrahim says that it’s not good to segregate mature students too much, and that a “ubiquitous” set of activities are there for all students to participate in, and all of those who want to, should have the opportunity to do so. He says that he will engage with mature students and the bodies that represent them in order to find out how the SRC can improve communication with them.
Domi Bacanskaite and Una Marie Darragh are running for the position of Vice President (Student Support). Bacanskaite says that her experience and passion make her the best candidate for the role, and that she is keen to work on the Consent Campaign as educating everyone on those issues is the best way to “make campus a safer space”.
Bacanskaite says that there is a need for somebody who is “ready to stand up for student welfare” and believes that she would “do a great job.”
Domi Bacanskaite’s manifesto. Have a look and see how it matches up to what she said.
Thais Ramdani says that including staff in discussions about show to address the problem of sexism on campus would allow the SRC to make progress on this issue.
Darragh says that she has been an effective member of Council as Disability Equality Officer. If elected, she says that she will campaign for a peer support network to be established across the University and for Equality and Diversity training to be part of the induction process. She says that we “cannot stop fighting” for better student services to ensure that the new campus is as accessible as possible.
Q: How do the candidates intend to work with the Unions to combat sexism. Ramdani says she intends to work closely with the welfare officers of the Union to address the issue.
See Ameer Ibrahim’s (VP Student Activities) interview and manifesto analysis here: http://glasgowguardian.co.uk/2015/03/03/vp-student-activities-interview-and-manifesto-analysis-ameer-ibrahim/
Here is Unamarie’s manifesto as well. Have a read!
Bacanskaite says that she is “not suggesting” that there will be consent workshops for “every new student next year”, but that they can be piloted to see how they could work and how effective they are.
Darragh says that she is keen to work with the new GUSA Welfare Office.
Alastair Craig asks how the candidates intend to oppose a “real terms cut” to Counselling and Psychological Services. Darragh says that services need to be good for students of the future, but provision for current students needs to be good too. She says that the cuts “need to stop” but that the SRC have to think of other ways to “come together” in the meantime. Peer support, so that students can discuss coping mechanisms, are part of this strategy. Bacanskaite says that it’s important to focus on the future, but not at the expense of current students.
Bacanskaite insists that the SRC has to fight cuts to CAPS (Counselling and Psychology Service) rather than just addressing the effects of spending cuts after they have happened. Darragh says that the SRC needs to communicate with students to address individual issues that arise from spending cuts.
Both candidates are in agreement that the SRC should be contesting student cuts.
Darragh says that signage is key in making home and mature students feel included in Freshers’ Week and events in general.
Tsveta Tsankova says she would change training practices for tutors in the the School of Social and Political Sciences.
On essays: "I think we need more detailed feedback on what we did right and what we did wrong.
Addressed third and fourth year conflicting deadlines and working with other schools to avoid this during honors years.
Darragh says that signs on campus need to be improve to make life easier for disabled students, as well as complementary passes for their carers. With regard to home students, Darragh says that there needs to be more emphasis on daytime events on campus to accommodate students who live at home. Bacanskaite says that it is important to have a variety of daytime events for the benefit of home students. Accessibility, says Bacanskaite, is key to making the environment more welcoming for disabled students.
Darragh neglects to mention her previous experience as disability officer.
Domi says she can’t guarantee that consent training will be made mandatory by the start of the new year, but is determined to make it so.
Rhetorically Darragh is far more conversational than Domi’s straight-to-the-point style.
Candidates are asked how they would consolidate all of the information on student support services to make it easily available to all students. Candidates agree that the information should be collated and uploaded to the SRC website.
The subject of mental health is raised. Domi highlights signposting and suicide prevention classes as key to reducing stigma around mental health.
Candidates agree that raising awareness of mental health issues has to be a priority for VPSS, with particular reference to mental health training.
There has been a large increase in the number of students seeking helping at the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS.) We’ve been reporting on the issue from the start:
Gemma Gratton and Ruth Brown running for Vice President (Education). Gratton argues that class representatives and school representatives need to meet more often and the communication needs to be more transparent. She says that publicising the work done by Council would be an effective way of improving communicating so that students are aware of what the SRC actually does.
Gemma Gratton’s manifesto and interview:
Ruth Brown just mentioned her Glasgow Guardian interview. Have a read:
Gratton says she realises how dense the University’s bureaucracy can be from other positions. Shows experience but hardly a confidence-building admission for students.
As a postgraduate who has visited the Singapore campus, Brown hopes the restructuring of the SRC could help make students aware of the services available to them.
Ruth Brown says that there is relatively little discussion of education policy at Council meetings, and to rectify this problem, she intends to form an academic committee on the SRC Council so that issues relating to education policy are fully discussed.
Hugh Robertson asks how the candidates intend to improve the communication and engagement between the SRC and PGT students. Brown says that school representatives need to be more aware that it is their job to represent PGT students as well as undergraduates. She adds that school representatives need to meet with heads of Colleges to make them aware of the issues that affect PGT students. Gratton says by raising awareness amongst PGT students so that they know what they are entitled to, saying that she will be very vocal in representing PGT students.
Both candidates believe there is a need to close the “feedback loop” so that student feedback reaches subject areas, Schools and Colleges.
Asked whether Schools encourage enough undergraduates to undertake postgraduate study at Glasgow University, Brown says that she “cannot really answer” that because she has not been a student in all Schools. She commits to investigating the issue, so that students who wish to continue to postgraduate level have the opportunity to do so. Gratton says that funding is an issue, so publicising the funding that is available would be a way of encouraging undergraduates to apply for postgraduate study.
Brown admits that it would not be compulsory for Council members to attend meetings of the academic committee she intends to set up if elected, but says that academic officers would be encouraged to attend monthly meetings of that committee.
Gratton is enthusiastic that change is possible through the SRC, despite gloomily pointing out bureaucracy in her introduction.
Candidates are asked whether or not they think that lecturers should be encouraged to use technology in their lectures and how the candidates would encourage them to do so. Brown says the recent Education and Technology Conference that she attended proved to her that when students are given a platform to express how they feel technology could aid their learning is an effective way to do that. Gratton says improving the staff-student dialogue is part of that process.
Asked whether they feel that uploading lecture slides to Moodle should be mandatory, Gratton says Yes, unequivocally. Brown agrees, and says that uploading lecture slides to Moodle is essential for exam preparation, and should therefore be encouraged at all levels.
Brown says that she is uncomfortable with the idea of students having to disclose their disabilities because courses should be set up in a way that supports any and all students. Gratton says that resources need to be made as accessible as possible so that students are supported, and to make it possible for the SRC to target staff who are not.
Not for the first time Gemma can only agree and reiterate.
Liam King, Cal Davies and Georgia Charalambous are running for President.
Charalambous contests Liam’s aim of challenging the University – the SRC is what needs challenged.
Charalambous would like to see a conference so that students have the opportunity to express their views on how problems on campus should be resolved. She says that the SRC has not been very “open and engaging” with her in the past, and that is a problem which prevents the SRC from engaging properly with students who are not already involved with the SRC. “Anonymisation” of complaints procedure is something which she intends to implement if elected.
Davies uses his introductory statement to blueprint a vision of the SRC as a body who can challenge government policy.
Davies says that he wants to improve communication with students. He addresses the Counter Terrorism Bill by putting pressure on political parties in the lead up to election season. Reaching out to more people is a key part of getting people involved with the SRC.
Liam King claims his manifesto is not bold but shows what is possible.
King talks of backroom deals and secrecy of University senior management that needs challenged by a resurge in student activism.
Read the three SRC presidential candidates’ Glasgow Guardian interviews and see what they said to us.
King says that he has “a vision” different from what has gone before. The SRC has “professionalised” says King, but in doing that what has happened is they have forgotten how to fight for student issues within the University power structures. He says SRC Council and Executive members have become “technocrats” and that too often the “SRC and student input” are sidelined. He says that the SRC is at a crossroads, and activism needs to be a key part of challenging senior management.
Cal has told us about how the Counter-Terrorism act will affect students. Read more about it here:
Cal Davies says that Council members need to be better informed about what it is that they should be doing, but concedes that that is not a huge reform. He says that he does not believe that the SRC needs “huge reform” but the SRC needs to become better at communicating with those it purports to represent.
Davies’ statement that the SRC does not need reform provokes muttering from audience members.
Georgia Charalambous says that the work of Vice Presidents needs to known across campus so that students know who does what on the SRC Executive. She says that she would host workshops to do this.
Liam King insists that there is a need for major reform within the SRC, and that the President should not chair SRC Council meetings because members are often “afraid” to challenge the chair. He says that there are barriers to access, including the living wage and the SRC recruitment process as it currently exists. With regard to Council, he says that members of Council should have some basic training to improve their effectiveness.
Charalambous positions herself on the side of activism (key to King’s bid), as opposed to table discussion, which Davies advocates.
Charalambous says that student activism is essential because students expect the SRC to fight for them. King says that he is an ‘activist’ candidate because he knows that back-room deals are common across the University. “If it smells like bullshit, it probably is” says King of the way in which the Senior Management Group engage with the SRC.
Davies says that “often things slip through the net” in committees and that there needs to be a combination of activism and cooperation if the SRC is to be effective.
In the run up to the General and Scottish Parliamentary elections, King says that communication is key and that the formation of a “Student Manifesto” is something he would consider.
Davies says that although campus is already engaged with political issues, he wants to build stronger connections with people in power, bring them to campus, and involve Glasgow students in the political process.
Charalambous says that knowing what students want is key to any progress that the SRC can make with regard to engaging with politicians.
Davies says that if the SRC is to remain relevant, they need to think of more effective ways of communicating with students. More “targeted” emails or “better” emails, and engaging properly on social media are the best ways to raise the profile of the SRC.
Charalambous says making the SRC “more transparent” will make students want to engage with the SRC.
King says that the SRC “probably is quite out of touch” and re-emphasises his belief that the SRC appears very “insular” and “exclusive” from the outside. Better management of the business of Council, and holding Council meetings in a larger room are part of King’s plan for improving engagement. He says that there have not been enough motions put to Council this year and instead it has been focused on bringing Council up to date rather than serious discussion and debate.
Charalambous says that representatives who are receptive to new ideas are better representatives overall. She refers to her anonymisation campaign to illustrate the point.
King contends that the SRC’s “club” image prevents effective communication with people who are not members of that “club”.
Davies says that getting information to home students, mature students and international students relating to the services that are available to them is essential if the SRC is to “draw in” new people.
King wins the “competition” for the closest estimate for total SRC expenditure 2013-14.
Audience member challenges Georgia on her perceived negative campaigning.
Charalambous says that “finger-pointing is a relative thing to say” and that it is important to give credit to those who have “done things”. She says that King is a hypocrite for not replying appropriately to her anonymisation campaign when she raised the issue last year with him.
There is an intake of breath as Charalambous accuses King of being hypocritical.
King excuses a lack of action and campaigning this year, saying he underestimated the workload of his current position.
King says that the SRC Executive is too often caught up in administrative tasks, and that the work of the Exec consumes much more time than he realised this time last year. He reiterates that the SRC should not always accept the “narrative” of the University and that, sometimes, the SRC should go to meetings with the intention of disagreeing with a consensus.
If King’s workload has been too much this year, how will he follow through with his promises of positive activism in the role of President?
Charalambous is asked if she is a “one trick pony” due to the lack of mental health policies in her manifesto. She says that her main priority is “representing students in the best way” but that she includes addressing mental health issues in that promise.
Former SRC President accuses King of “shirking his responsibilities” as he is on the current SRC Executive and he has had an opportunity to change the way the SRC works. King says that the Campus Redevelopment Framework Consultation was presented in a way that totally bypassed students, and that student input in the consultation has been largely a fantasy. King says that the proposals for the new campus include a proposal for an animal testing facility which, even as a member of the SRC Executive who was intimately involved with the consultation, he did not know anything about until today.
Read more about Glasgow University’s involvement with animal testing:
Davies is asked how he will be more effective as President in preventing the University from banning translation dictionaries. He says that his experience as VP (Education) puts him in a better position to fight the University on this issue, without compromise.
King is asked how he will improve the relationship between the SRC Exec and Council members. King says that there has to be support for those who are not “achieving as much as they could do” and to encourage them to submit their Council reports, as they are meant to. However, there needs to be some “slapping of the wrists” for those Council members who consistently let down the SRC and the students they are meant to represent.
Davies says he will be “keen to promote to Council” the proposal to publish Council reports online. He says that there need to put structures in place to ensure a that Council works efficiently, including a measure remove those members from Council who do not attend repeatedly.
Charalambous interrogated by a former Council member over anonymisation. She insists that it is a practical system which would benefit those students who do not want their identity to be revealed in relation to a complaint.
That’s the end of the SRC Sabbatical Hustings coverage. Thanks for following!