Lawrence Stewart’s manifesto for the position of VP Education – one of the more hotly contested positions in the upcoming election – suffers from vague commitments without further explanation as to how he hopes to achieve them. Of course, our interview on Friday afternoon would have been the perfect opportunity to rectify this; however, I don’t believe that Lawrence carried the confidence to further explain and develop his ideas when questioned on them.
As a current class representative for Geography and having held this position for four years, Lawrence certainly has sound experience in representing the interests of students and liaising with staff. When asked how he’d seek to improve the class representative system, however, he floundered somewhat, eventually but with uncertainty suggesting that he may consider encouraging class representatives who don’t follow through on their commitments to step down and give the role to someone else. While a sensible idea, Lawrence didn’t elaborate on how he may seek to achieve this, nor did he specify with any detail how exactly he might incentivise students to come forward to be class representatives in the first place.
His manifesto’s high point is perhaps his experience outwith the University: Lawrence has served as the National Secretary for the student wing of a political party and in doing so has extensive experience working within committee structures, organising campaigns and working with other students to understand their ideas. This, alongside his social media experience, would be extremely beneficial to the role of VP Education, wherein a higher profile on social media and greater engagement with the student body would be valuable. Here, Lawrence seems at his most confident and capable – he appears to be driven by a genuine interest in representing students, understanding their concerns and raising the profile of the position he seeks.
That being said, Lawrence doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics beyond his social media experience and plans to utilise it to promote the work of the SRC. Although a more effective social media presence on the SRC’s part is desperately needed, more unique initiatives on the work Lawrence plans to promote would make this point stronger.
The boldest, concrete commitment Lawrence makes – and one indeed that would benefit the student body the most – is that he would work to make more study spaces available before the development on campus is complete. That being said, he was vague on how he hoped to actually achieve this, and when prompted, said that he would perhaps seek to implement a blanket policy on using empty rooms on campus for study space. A good idea, but without a concrete plan on how exactly to achieve this university-wide, its workability is questionable.
Overall, Lawrence is clearly driven by a genuine and encouraging commitment to best represent student interests. That being said, I am concerned that this enthusiasm has not developed into concrete ideas on how exactly to make this achievable. The interview could have been an opportunity for Lawrence to expand upon ideas that he wasn’t able to in his manifesto due to word limit constraints; however, I do not feel that Lawrence had the confidence to fully seize this chance. Encouragement and promotion – something that Lawrence emphasises strongly both in his manifesto and interview – are crucial to any candidate seeking to be VP Education, but more concrete ideas and a plan on how to implement them would have gone a long way.