Interview and analysis: Lauren ‘Shoogle’ McDougall – SRC Presidential candidate

Published

Jonathan Peters
News Editor

Lauren is a great candidate. She’s got a wealth of experience at the University, and will likely make a positive difference as President. I wish I could tell you to vote for her. However, for the second year in a row, the election of the president of the SRC has only one candidate. More on that later.

Lauren’s manifesto emphasises her experience. She’s served on the University Court for a year, has been successful in securing funding for mental health and counselling services, and has developed policies for student wellbeing that are in place already. These are all skills that an SRC president would need to learn quickly – Lauren already has them.

But what does she propose? Much of her manifesto builds on her previous work as VP Student Support: ensuring anonymous reporting for sexual violence is rolled out successfully and improving access to information for students feel like unfinished business from her time as VP. These are good policies, and it’s important that they’re implemented properly, but the SRC President’s remit is wider than this.

From speaking to Lauren, it’s clear she knows the University’s processes very well. Her manifesto promises to use existing forums to “ensure that the most pressing issues are always on the agenda”, and she’s proven in the past that’s able to champion other people’s causes. As this university gets bigger and more complex, it’s important for students to have a representative who can get things done. Lauren has done this in the past, and she seems ready to do this as president.

As the students and staff at the university prepare for more strike action, Lauren is eager to make the position of President more politically engaged. She supports the strike and wants to make sure this university is a fair place to work and study. Just what an SRC president can do in these circumstances is hard to say, but I’m confident Lauren will use this position more effectively than most.

Her manifesto promises to “continue prioritising the creation of a rent pressure zone in the West End”, which should be welcome news to just about every student. She does have some ideas to improve the situation for students, and with the recent acquisition of GSV property by the university, she has some means to achieve them. Lauren knows well the situation many students face – sky-high rents for a poor service – and her plans to report and compare the University’s provision against other options, as well as making those alternatives clearer for students, is achievable. It won’t solve the problems in our housing market, but it might give our university the competition it needs to improve the service it offers.

Lauren also wants to improve the communications of the SRC, so that students know what the Council are up to and what services they offer. This has never been more important, given that, once again, we have an unopposed candidate for SRC president. A 1-year paid sabbatical position, with access to the highest levels of University management, that can effect real change for students and is probably great experience to have on your CV, that hardly anyone wants to do. If the SRC wants to be a positive force for students, this needs to change.

Lauren promises a lot, but she has the enthusiasm to match her ambition. The most valuable asset that Lauren brings to this role is her experience. She knows how to get things done, which is good because she has a lot to do.