In a contested race, Owain Campton is the only candidate for President of the GUU that is choosing to interview with The Glasgow Guardian. His nine page long manifesto covers every issue that will be faced by the GUU in the upcoming year, and in person he is well versed on every one of his points. He is careful not to fall into the trap of flashy promises, aware of the role of the President being more of a managerial position than one that will grant the wishes of the student body. He has a great deal of experience within the Union, having managed his own committee as well as working on both the Finance and the Constitution committee.
For union members, Owain highlighted the need to promote the points scheme and work with other campus bodies in order to ensure student welfare is protected. His manifesto puts forward the idea of “complimentary services” such as “chat groups” to make sure that those on the university counselling services waiting lists are not alone during their waiting periods. When asked about the likelihood of this just leading to another waiting list students will be put on, Owain acknowledged the high number of students that would want to take part in a service like this, but stressed that the services would be informal, and not a replacement for the professional counselling provided by the University.
Owain’s manifesto suggests that the fact that complaints about the GUU have to be sent to the president may have an impact on the number of complaints sent in, and proposes opening the complaints procedure to the whole board. When asked about the pressure this would put on the board members Owain stressed that this was only after full training, and at the discretion and ability of board members, and that he feels the board is there to look out for students. Additionally, he feels that by having to direct complaints at the President, the current system may alienate students. He also puts forward the proposal of mandatory mental health first aid training for all board members, a scheme put forward by the government to aid those in welfare positions that has not yet been implemented by any other student body.
Discussing the impact that the new Campus Development will have on footfall to the GUU, Owain stressed the need for the Union to plan ahead. The problems that may be caused by the new James McCune Smith Learning and Teaching Hub will not occur for a few years, but Owain wants to start setting up the foundations to ensure the GUU is protected. Addressing the GUU’s image problem, Owain stressed the need to acknowledge the stereotype and work with other institutions across campus to ensure everyone feels comfortable within the union and continue to tackle historic stereotypes.
Owain faltered when asked about the GUU’s problem with democracy, denying that the GUU’s system of hand counting ballots is outdated, and suggested that making people go down to the GUU to vote would ensure that the people voting were the ones who were fully engaged with the union. He refused to acknowledge the way that this may restrict engagement to the people running and their friends. He did recognise the campus-wide problem with student engagement in elections, but did not believe there was a democracy problem within the GUU specifically.
He declined to comment on Matthew Miller’s refusal to interview, but asked students to compare the two manifestos and vote for the person who they believe had the best ideas for the union. He stated that he had chosen to interview because he believes the President is a spokesperson and link between the union and the students and that means that they must connect with the student body in any and all ways possible. When asked what he was offering that his opponent wasn’t, he said he had the experience, stability and understanding of the union that the role needs: “The amount of time and effort and energy and thought I have put into my manifesto shows I am not going into this halfheartedly.”
Read Owain’s manifesto here.