VP Student Activities Interview and Manifesto Analysis: Ameer Ibrahim



Guardian: What have you achieved since being elected to the SRC in the Autumn 2014 elections?

Ibrahim: One of the big focuses of the SRC right when I started was an absence of an international society at Glasgow. I was not fully aware before I got involved with the SRC last year. During first and second year, the previous international society, GUISUK, I used to go on a lot of their weekend trips and stuff like that, but they were a business essentially, not a recognised society. The SRC were very dedicated to ensuring that we would have a new international society for students. I was involved with the formation of that. It’s been really really successful so far; we’ve had, I don’t want to say ‘excess demand’, but events that we anticipate 150 people showed up to. Apart from that, I would say stuff like student council, there were a lot of political issues this year in relation to Dictionaries. Also being involved with new redevelopment, I went to a couple of conferences for that. Also just liaising with societies and so forth. I’ve had individual students contact me as well about issues.

Guardian: How do you intend to make Freshers’ Week more accessible for home students and non-drinkers?

Ibrahim: I’m personally a non-drinker, and I suppose I can quite directly relate to what it’s like to be in a situation where obviously you’re not taking part in the conventional festivities. I wouldn’t say there’s one bracket for non-drinkers; I don’t mind being in an environment where people are drinking. I’ll still take part but I just won’t drink. I understand that some people for religious reasons and other reasons will not be inclined to go to the community events at night and so forth. What I would like to do is maybe contact the societies and try to get them to organised a lot of day events, obviously with Refreshers’ Fair. I was thinking about kind of fun day events that could take place intermittently throughout the week, and as I say that’s available for everyone. I think (home) students are a big issue, because a lot of students obviously stay at home. I personally also stay at home but I live quite close by the University, but I know that if you’re, say, living in the suburbs of Glasgow it’s not always ideal to travel at night. We’ll maybe put some information on the website, transport links and stuff like that. Maybe there could be a kind of Student Voice scenario where you could lie on someone’s floor for the night, or something.

My big focus with Freshers’ Week is to really increase social media interaction. I don’t think it’s something that has been utilised in the past. There’s a lot of focus on conventional email communication, and there obviously are handbooks and booklets. But I feel that most students, I suppose in the modern age most people are identifying more and more with social media, between Twitter and Facebook and I really want to use that platform to really engage students, and to increase numbers at events and so forth.

Guardian: What will you do to promote the activities of student societies on campus?

Ibrahim: Primarily through social media. I think also maybe getting involved more with student media. I think people do often relate better, if there’s a very good poster campaign, artwork campaign, rather than just sending an email with a list of events. People often engage with that a lot more. Maybe just posting on campus, making more use of public spaces, like in the Fraser Building and the library to advertise these University Campaigns, not external business ventures but things that really are directly for students to contribute to their student experience. Societies are primarily run by students, so I just think this University should acknowledge that students do put a lot of work into running events and so forth and helping them raise their platform should be a priority.

Guardian: If elected, what are your plans for RAG week?

Ibrahim: For Raising and Giving, I know that, every year, new societies and new charitable ventures want to promote themselves on campus. I think we could use RAG week as a platform to promote issues, particularly with students, relating to disabilities. I think there are a lot of very good charitable ventures based on campus, I know Starfish and things like that with GUSA, and I suppose using that. But also, giving students the opportunity to identify what they can do to volunteer. Student volunteering is a fantastic service; I think it’s one that students often are not aware of. I suppose just raising a platform and also getting individual clubs and societies involved as well.

Guardian: What are you going to do to make the SRC more transparent?

Ibrahim: I think you have to look at big events throughout the year. I think things like Fresher’s Week is a great opportunity because you’ve not only got 4000 new students or whatever the number may be, but you’ve also got the SRC helpers and I think approximately 300 other helpers between the three bodies last year? So I think things like Freshers’ Week, you know, with things like the Freshers’ Fair could be a really good opportunity to promote what the SRC does, and really engage with students. I think maybe getting involved with student media, maybe doing video broadcasts, maybe even do satirical videos to engage students. Something that wouldn’t go viral on social media but something that students get interested in. I think it’s really all about communication.

I think the issue is really just in relation to over time that the SRC hasn’t developed with identifying that students will not engage with certain things. It’s really just about broadcasting what we do and just trying to actively encourage students throughout the year, between events and through liaising with them to really promote what the Student Representative Council does.

Manifesto Analysis

Ameer’s manifesto reads as though he went home, copy and pasted the job description and pulled out a thesaurus to thinly mask that that’s what he did. I guess it shows he knows the job and the Ctrl+C shortcut, but it’s hardly inspiring. Mind you that’s fairly standard for VPSA. In fairness one thing that’s not from the job descriptions is he’s slapped a bit in about getting dogs, everyone loves dogs.