Interview and analysis: Anya Owen – QMU Presidential Candidate

Published

Wallis Spence and Kate Snowdon
Deputy News Editor and Editor

Anya Owen has “always done everything with the highest level of enthusiasm and dedication” and intends to bring this attitude to the position of President of the Queen Margaret Union (QMU).

However, her experience does not even slightly prepare her for dealing with an organisation with 35 members of staff and an annual turnover of £1.5 million. Her experience is comparable but not directly related. This may only exacerbate the union’s dire financial situation.

While acknowledging that the QMU is already involved in discourse surrounding gender and sexuality, Owen intends to expand on awareness surrounding issues regarding race and diversity, labelling the QMU as “#sowhite”. While speaking about how she intends to implement this, Owen referenced her previous involvement with Rape Crisis Glasgow and the Ruby Project. On the subject of developing a new project within this area, Owen discusses establishing a Black and Ethnic Minority Month, labelling it her “pet idea”. Owen states that using “BAE” as an acronym for “Black and Ethnic” will make such events “more cute and fun”.

When asked how her idea for a Black and Ethnic Awareness Month will fit into the already standing Black History Month, Owen states that the QMU will be able to emphasise that it can do its own thing by running an individual project. It appears that Owen hasn’t considered these ideas fully in terms of feasibility or in terms of potential offence it could cause to describe a serious campaign as “cute”, or a “pet” project.

Owen believes cooperation is the key to success for the QMU and intends tostrengthen relationships with societies, having previously collaborated with 12 societies in the past year in her involvement with the Disney Society. She suggests that she can carry these relationships over to the QMU with her, but does not offer ideas on how the QMU would attempt to build these relationships themselves.

She also places emphasis on increasing advertisement of QMU events by updating and rearranging posters within the building. When asked to elaborate on ideas for further methods of increasing advertisement, Owen simply stated that she was a “bit cut for words when it came to things like that.” Although she hopes to further the current President’s social media plan, most of her ideas focus on using the building space, with the use of banners and chalk to entice students. However, her ideas are largely based on things that are already ongoing and she does not appear to have many developed original ideas to increase advertisement for the QMU.

She emphasises how her ideas should be largely focused on the staff whose “livelihoods depend on the QMU still being able to function after we leave.” When asked if she would prioritise keeping staff on at a potential loss to QMU financial revenue, Owen responds that she could only elaborate on this if she had seen the finances. As a former staff member, there is the potential for a serious conflict of interest here and this idea seems to be inspired by personal reasons rather than feasibility for the QMU.

Although she has experience in positions that have allowed her to build successful leadership skills and strong interpersonal relationships around campus, her ideas do not seem completely original, nor do they seem to be backed up by thoroughly considered implementation methods. If Owen were to develop her ideas and come up with more concrete methods of applying them, she could one day be a strong candidate, but her overwhelming enthusiasm does not make up for her lack of understanding of the position and its constraints.