QMU Presidential Candidate Interview and Manifesto Analysis: Max Sefton

Interview

Guardian: You mentioned dropping Magic on weeknights where it wouldn’t be possible, how would you make sure that didn’t lead to the death of QM’s club night over all?

Sefton: Perhaps I didn’t make that quite clear in my manifesto. I would suggest in the weeks when it’s not possible to throw it in Qudos and throw a busy, exciting night, I think if people don’t have a good time, they won’t come back. I think when we know when it’s not going to be a huge one, let’s say during exam time, me move it to a smaller scale, let’s say Jim’s bar, we have more freedom to experiment with how that works and what does make a great night. For example, we have an Indie DJ in Jim’s bar on the same night that Propaganda throws the largest Indie night in town, whereas if one week we throw and absolutely amazing hip hop night for example, people will tell their friends, and come back again.

Guardian: DJ Toast is contracted to work Magic every week. If Magic isn’t on consistently, will you be able to contract a decent DJ week in week out, if it’s at different venues?

Sefton: I think there are dozens of good DJs in Glasgow. I think we need to be focusing on what students want out of a club night. I think Magic, as opposed to past attempts at a QM club night, is quite a strong and versatile brand, and people do recognise those posters when they see them up there as the QM brand; it still gives us the freedom that if we want to try new things then we can. Obviously you want it to have a certain identity; people don’t want random night, but thankfully we have moved away from a club night where you have to hear ‘Let it go’ played at midnight

Guardian: Have you spoken to Toast about his availability for this particular set-up or would you be looking to move away from a DJ like toast?

Sefton: I think it would be unprofessional of me at this present moment to talk about the contractual status of a member of QM staff. I think that also as well, this isn’t just the President’s vision of a club night; this is the Events Committee and the members of the QM Union’s vision, and I would like to see a broadened discussion of what they would like to see from a QM club night. I think when we were aiming to rebrand last summer, it was an process driven by the executive. They had the funds at their disposal to try something really new for the QM, and, in some ways that has been successful, but in other ways we need to start seeing what the membership want from the night.

Guardian: You mention equality and diversity training for QM board members. Are QM board members not already high performers when it comes to diversity and equality?

Sefton: I don’t think you can ever say that’s a job that’s complete. I don’t think it’s a set goal that you can hope to go to, I think. It’s an ongoing process where you can set to improve; I think the QM already has a great reputation. I think what brought me to the QM was that it was a very open-minded space. For example, this year, the QM board members were put through the University’s online program, which I think for the moment only 40% of the University lecturers have actually completed, although they are asking for all of them to. There were elements of that I thought were incomplete. I was talking to Liam King, the VP of the SRC, about the elements he thought about were not covered by that, in particular in regards to health issues, that I would like to see go into more depth. Obviously, QM board members are not going to be the solution to those problems, but I would like to have a group that are at least capable of recognising people who are in those kinds of situations and pointing them towards to right resources. I think that’s a very important thing for a QM board member to be able to do. I would like to see that expanded, especially towards Freshers’ Helpers as well, I think, to get people. We never have any problem to get 400 applicants for Freshers’ Helpers who are happy to drink and go out every night but I would like to see the Freshers’ Helpers to go out to people who perhaps aren’t feeling so good being away from home for the first time to say, “it’s okay, there are people you can talk to and you always have a place in the QM”. I think that’s the kind of thing I would like to see QM board members do in the future.

Guardian: And would you extent that training more into QM staff as well?

Sefton: I have to admit I don’t know very much about the procedures that the staff have to go through in their training, I wouldn’t want to comment…

Guardian: Your policies on topics like social media and high society involvement are very similar things that have already been put forward in the past, for example with Chris Barret’s manifesto, do you have a unique perspective on these policies, that differ to what has been pushed before?

Sefton: I think clubs and societies have been specifically under the role under the Hon Sec, but I would definitely like to think the Exec are a team, and there is a crossover. I would work closely with whatever the Hon Sec wished to do, as for making it a home to clubs and societies. I’ve been talking to groups, even some political groups and have been asking them what problems they have been having with the QM. I’ve been hearing a lot about the terrible room booking system, and that’s something I would want to get torn into over the summer, to be ready for when societies are enrolling again in September. It terms of things I’ve been thinking of, clubs need more stake in the QM. This is a room which we turn up to and use; I know, for example, one of the CRSs this year has looked a lot into things that would make the rooms look more homely and I know she’s going to run again. I really hope she gets to pursue that project because I think those are the exact kind of projects that need to be coming from ordinary board members. I think that really can make societies feel more at home,: just a few examples of what I was thinking of specifically, for example, is space for political groups, and groups like the LGBT society, to distribute their literature. There is no dedicated space for these groups in the QM, where these outside groups can show off their material. Something I proposed in board a while ago that sadly hasn’t been taken up on, is that we should have a board placed very obviously in reception, saying, “these are the 10 societies that are using the building today, this is one line about what they are doing today”, and I think this is a hugely great way for societies to show off what they’re up to. They don’t necessarily need to be something that the QM is pushing. For example, Salsa4Water is using the QM for dance rehearsal yet there is nothing the QM is doing for them apart from giving them a space, but this would show that we are there to support these types of societies. I think that would be a hugely popular and positive way to engage with society.

Manifesto Analysis

Max Sefton plans to, once a fortnight, answer all your questions in an informal manner. The positives of this policy are that lodging a complaint, or just going up to the executive office,  is daunting and many members simply won’t do it. However, it will be difficult for Sefton to find time to do this, its benefits might be limited. New members might not know who he is, so effective advertising will be imperative.

The second point on Sefton’s agenda is to make the QM more than just a room for societies; it will be a place for your artwork, literature and a description of your society. At this moment in time if a society were to receive a better offer from any other venue the QM could easily lose them. However, if a society had a place for their literature, manifesto or artwork they would be much more invested in the QM and vice versa. While artwork may be okay, literature and manifestos could look to mean that the QM is endorsing that particular group, whose ideas might conflict with another potentially-affiliated society. How would it be decided which societies can distribute what?

On nights with poor attendance at Magic, such as during exams, Sefton proposes to move the club night from the main venue  into the smaller Jim’s Bar. Even large clubs struggle greatly in the exam period, and Magic fared badly during Christmas exams. The select few who turn up to these desolate Magics are considerably less likely to have a good time, and therefore less likely to return. However, if Magic was hosted on a smaller scale during these periods, it would appear to doing better – as well as having a better atmosphere – at the cost of very little.

Finally, Sefton proposes new equality and diversity training for board members and freshers’ helpers. This is great as the equality, diversity and overall openness of the union something many QM members note about the union.

This manifesto is more definitely achievable than the competition but is so not just because it’s thought through but because it’s a bit safe.