Interview and analysis: Hannah Makonnen – SRC VP Student Activities candidate


Hamish Morrison

A few hours after our interview, Hannah Makonnen got in touch with The Glasgow Guardian to make a few points of clarification regarding her interview. The first of these was: “Having questioned me on my first manifesto point which is to update the freshers booklet with extensive detail and description of all the student body roles with regards to all the the unions, [the interviewer] states that this all ready exists. Unfortunately, it does not.” This is not what the first point of her manifesto says. It says “[..]This will be accomplished through updating the freshers booklet to include a list and explanation of all the student body roles across campus and how to get involved with them.” Which I took to mean the roles served by each student union, not, as she intended “the roles of the people on the boards of those unions”. You can decide for yourself which is more reasonable but ultimately it doesn’t matter. In the interview Makonnen is given the chance to make this distinction and to outline specifically how her update to the SRC’s “The Guide” would differentiate it from earlier iterations. She does not take this opportunity. Had she adequately thought this point in her manifesto through, which it does not seem she has, she could easily have done this when presented the opportunity. This is all without mentioning the fact that the first point of her manifesto would constitute a day’s (generously two days’) work.

The wider problem with Makonnen’s manifesto, which the above is indicative of, is that she simply does not fully understand the role, or seem at all qualified for it. Her manifesto makes no mention of RAG week, or the VCS awards. It includes a passing nod to Freshers’ Week (one of the biggest priorities of VP Student Activities), in almost parodically bland fashion. Aiming to create “an exciting and inclusive freshers week with a variety of events to make sure freshers feel welcome, supported and prepared, not just for that week but for the rest of their time at university” is not a manifesto point; it is part of the VPSA’s job description.

Her manifesto’s high point is the proposal for a petitions page on the SRC’s website. This is currently on SRC President Kate Powell’s manifesto and has not been achieved by her, primarily due to the current lack of an IT coordinator within the SRC. When asked why she would succeed where Kate has failed, she says: “Because I will try my hardest to make sure that it happens”. Kate Powell could not achieve this in a year in office and in my experience seems a much more capable pair of hands; so Makonnen’s assurances that she will try her hardest are somewhat unconvincing.

The things in Makonnen’s manifesto that could not be achieved in a week’s work, at max; could not be achieved at all, are already in place, or are simply part of the job description of VPSA. Her manifesto brings nothing new to the table and her interview certainly does not fill me with confidence that she is capable of the role. Her last point of clarification was that I wrongly claimed that the petitions idea had been put forward by Kate Powell two years ago, when she ran for VP Student Activities. In actuality it appeared in Powell’s manifesto last year and she has never ran for VPSA, having been VP Education prior to becoming President. That was my mistake.

The role of VP for Student Activities is an important one; their remit includes RAG week, Freshers’ week, and they act as the first point of contact between clubs and societies with the SRC. Reading her manifesto I was not convinced Makonnen has the ability to take on this position; speaking to her only confirmed this.