Credit: Glasgow Guardian / Glasgow University Sports Association

Views Editor and Writer 

Last night, the Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) held their spring council election hustings, where all council members had the opportunity to pitch their manifestos to an open room and answer questions from the audience, both live and from the live stream on their Facebook page. 

The GUSA council is made up of 12 positions, four of which were contested. Voting will open at 9am Wednesday 4 March and run until 5pm Thursday 5 March. You can vote online at gla.ac.uk/vote. 

The results will be announced at 6pm Thursday 5 March in the Glasgow University Union’s (GUU) Reading Room. Each of the candidates’ full manifestos can be found here

All candidates manifestos are online and on social media, but the hustings are an opportunity to get to know the candidates better and hear them answer questions from the crowd. Here’s the lowdown on what you missed at tonight’s hustings:

Alumni Convenver - Uncontested

Catherine Holland

Catherine is a fifth year Statistics student and has previous experience of being GUSA council’s Fundraising Convenor, as well as being a member of five different sports clubs across her five years. Primarily, Catherine wants to continue the great work that was carried out by the previous Alumni Convener. Catherine plans to maximise donations from alumni by creating a donation page where they have the opportunity to donate to the individual club they choose. Catherine wants to ensure she shows where the alumni’s money is going by including on the website any upcoming trips or projects the club requires donations for. Additionally, she aims to create a quarterly newsletter to be distributed to alumni. 

Club Sport Convenor - Contested

Jayny Saunders

Jayny is a second year Technological Education student who has played for women’s football, badminton, netball, tennis, and athletics. Jayny believes she is the right candidate for the job because she has been heavily involved with GUSA, as she has been a fresher’s helper, a member of the GUSA events team, participated in super teams, co-taught self-defence classes for staff and students, and in the past has been an active schools ambassador, introducing 100 new girls to sport. 

Jayny wants to work closely with the new Publicity Convenor to promote each of the clubs through social media by introducing more club takeovers of Instagram, featured club of the week stories, and an Instagram highlight for each club. Jayny also pledged to do her best at working with UofG Sport to identify extra times to allocate for club training. Furthermore, she wants to grow every club to have its own welfare officer. Jayny aims to set five-year tailored plans for clubs, developing realistic strategies for growth. In follow-up questions, Jayny highlighted her new plans to ensure more demos and live shows at the Sports Fayre eg a cheerleading show, to showcase the amazing variety of clubs available within GUSA, which will encourage more people to participate in a club sport. 

Samuel Horsch

Samuel is a third year Maths and Physics student who has previous experience as treasurer of the Boxing club, Alumni Convenor of the Muay Thai club. Outside GUSA, Samuel also has been treasurer of the Entrepreneur society and a class representative.

Samuel loves sports and is excited by the opportunity to work with all the different clubs. His passion for sport has driven him to run this position, a passion he wants to share with as many students as possible. Samuel aims to create clearer communication between Glasgow University Sport and the GUSA clubs. Samuel stressed the importance of communication, especially between the clubs, with intentions of creating more club collaborations such as joint socials and fundraisers. He also wants to encourage shared storage space between the clubs as well as shared fitness sessions, in an attempt to use the resources we have more efficiently. 

Samuel plans to restructure the grouping of the Sports Fayre by grouping societies with related area specialities together in order to make it easier for freshers.

When questioned on why GUSA clubs weren’t working together more, Samuel pointed out that the reason may be because a lot of clubs don’t feel included in GUSA. Samuel would like to speak to clubs to find out their needs and what can be done to make sure the correct changes are put in place for this to happen. 

Events Convenor  - Uncontested

George Fournarakis

George is a third year Business and Management and Politics student. Across his three years, he has participated in a variety of sports ranging from table tennis to American football. He has undertaken numerous roles within the American football team’s committee including Publicity and Fundraising Convenor. In the GUSA hustings, he reiterated his three-point initiative: inclusion, innovation and support. Inclusion refers to his aim to ensure that all events hosted by GUSA and internal clubs are inclusive, which promotes approachability and greater participation levels. Innovation centres on the promotion of new spaces for interclub collaborations and competitions. He noted the future existence of a GUSA dodgeball event and a festival of sport - which was likened to a school sports day - in which disciplinary schools enter teams to compete against each other for bragging rights. These innovations intend to promote engagement between GUSA and non-GUSA students and establish communication bridges between clubs, members and the wider student population. The final point, support, refers to the support he intends to give to GUSA clubs and committees. He intends to meet with the committees, prevent the isolation of clubs, promote the use of cross-campus venues and, finally, assist clubs in implementing new ideas and events.   

Finance Convenor - Contested

Julia Gallagher

Julia is a fourth year Maths student heading into her masters. Julia has been an active member of GUSA throughout her entire student career, she even claims this is where she got “90% of [her] friends from". Previously Julia was captain of the hockey team and undertook an internship at Lloyds Banking group in the finance division last summer. 

Julia is running for the role because she wants to give back to GUSA. She aims to build good relationships with club treasurers by hosting monthly meetings in order to support them with any issues with claiming forms or AFF (Annual Financial Findings). Furthermore, Julia wants to work with the finance administrator to ensure that club claims and memberships are paid promptly. 

Vivek Pandya

Vivek is a third year History student who has experience holding two committee positions for the squash club as treasurer and captain. Vivek has also been a member of the GUSA Welfare Committee taking part in events such as superteams and helping with the gym buddies initiative. 

Vivek plans to introduce a second review of the AFF following semester one. The second review would be for re-allocation purposes so money could be spent more effectively by the clubs.

He also plans to create greater transparency between the GUSA council and clubs in order to make it clearer why GUSA make the decisions they do.

The candidates were questioned on how they would update the portal to work more efficiently, with both candidates agreeing they would update the previous videos to make it clearer for treasurers. They were also questioned how they would be professional with the friends in their own club ie not giving extra funding to your friends for the sake of it. Julia would reject any propositions and speak to the club captain about ensuring she wasn’t put in this position again, with Vivek aiming to set clear professional boundaries between him and his friends.

Fundraising and Outreach Convenor - Uncontested

James Patterson

James is a third year aero engineering student, and has been a member of both the tennis club and the ski and snowboard club, and has served as a freshers helper for two consecutive years. James intends to work with a sports-based charity that promotes health and well-being. He also would like to establish an outreach programme: he aims to maintain the current outreach channels with the eventual aim is to reach out to local schools and youth centres to promote sport amongst disadvantaged young people. James intends to use and promote the GUSA quiz as a key fundraising event and is keen to establish a main council fundraiser that will challenge serving council members all in the name of raising money for GUSA members. James mentions his intention to use incentives to reward clubs that carry out their own fundraising events and outreach programmes, these rewards will range from media shout-outs to the alteration of GUSA ball ticket allocation in favour of the most supportive clubs. 

Health and Fitness Convenor - Contested

Ahmad Khashawi

Ahmad is a second year Business and Management student and has been a part of various clubs including American football, judo, boxing, and weightlifting (and also has a soft spot for yoga). 

Ahmad plans to introduce a three-point strategy as Health and Fitness Convenor focusing on safety, inclusivity and accessibility. He wants GUSA to feel like one big family, one that supports each other to thrive both physically and mentally. Ahmad spoke of his own mental health issues and believes the best comfort he felt during his darker days was sharing with friends. He promoted an “all cards on the table” environment via a “mental rant” space which you can read more about in his manifesto. When quizzed on his motivation for running for the role, Ahmad relayed a personal anecdote about the several injuries he has accumulated over the years which has affected his mental and physical health. He wants to help those who have been in the same situation as him.

Bertie Graham

Bertie is a third year Maths student with experience of being on the weight lifting committee last year. He aims to share the wealth of knowledge that GUSA has between all of the clubs by creating a cross-club training scheme in order to utilise knowledge of different ways of training held by each club. He also mentioned that yesterday was the first day of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, something he believes is particularly prevalent in sport. Bertie aims to raise eating disorder awareness in the same vein as the Mind Your Mate suicide prevention training already hosted by the university. He would also like to continue the safe space initiative Roza created last year.  Bertie’s motivation behind running for this role was a result of being in the same position many are in first year; incredibly intimidated by the weight lifting community at GU, and now he is one of them. Coming from that place, Bertie wants to help everyone get involved in GUSA.

When questioned about how each of the candidates would increase sport engagement with students not a member of GUSA, Ahmad argued that the Sports Fayre was the biggest tool for promoting membership. He also plans to have the GUSA council promote more activities, even to the extent of walking around campus asking people to give their club a try. Bertie stressed the importance of utilising publicity opportunities by working with different student bodies, making them aware of what GUSA offers. 

Publicity Convenor - Uncontested

Anna Woodcock

Anna is a second year Geography and Business student and is currently the Publicity Convenor for women's hockey. She highlighted the importance of reaching out to non-club members and prospective freshers, asserting that she intends to raise awareness of the events that take place across the year by promoting them within GUSA’s media. Anna also mentioned the creation of a “year in review” media piece - that will collect material from clubs’ best achievements and sporting moments, serving as promotional material for GUSA. She also mentions encouragement of a monthly review that intends to gather external sponsors and seek the promotion of GUSA within local news outlets. Anna also outlined the importance of raising awareness of GUSA across campus and around Glasgow, and highlights the value in engaging with freshers who are the “future of GUSA.” 

Travel Convenor - Uncontested

Ciaran McMonagle

Ciaran is in the first year of his Public Health PhD and has held sailing committee positions for the last four years. Ciaran discussed his hopes to expand the current pool of available drivers and to publicise future tests and bus driving requirements. Ciaran emphasised his goal to improve the maintenance of the GUSA fleet and offers a clear and consistent cleaning rota as the solution for this. He also promoted the potential hiring or use of smaller cars to offset expenditure. He has made plans - mostly administrative - to ensure that travel arrangements with GUSA clubs are organised at an early stage in the academic year. In response to a question regarding roof racks on GUSA buses, the current GUSA president and Ciaran asserted that roof racks would violate current EU laws regarding bus weight limits. Ciaran noted that clubs that would potentially need access to a roof-rack would need to communicate this at an early stage.

Welfare Convenor - Uncontested

Ewan Galbraith

Ewan is a second year English Literature student and has worked alongside GUSA welfare in the promotion of Studio One safe space, gym buddies and GUSA’s partnership with the Linda Tremble Foundation. Ewan mentioned three key areas that he intends to make an impact on. The first is making GUSA accessible to all, this includes the presence of a GUSA welfare stand at the Sports Fayre. The second is to break down the barriers that surround the discussion of mental health, he seeks to open up a conversation and coordinate with social media to promote this. The final point refers to the club welfare, which focuses on increasing participation across every level of sport. In response to what he wished to take forward into the role, Ewan claimed that he believed the GUSA gym buddy initiative has been vital to improving the accessibility of sport and that this coordinated effort is something he would like to promote more of. In response to the challenge that there are few training opportunities for sports welfare, Ewan pledged to provide sexual violence training and push for the presence of a welfare officer within each club and, offer support for said welfare officers.

Secretary - Uncontested

Jessica Woodcock

Jessica is a fourth year Classics and Russian student, she has been heavily involved in GUSA having previously been a member of five different clubs and a GUSA freshers helper. She previously undertook the role of GUSA Travel Convenor and believes she has a deep understanding of what the council needs. She aims to play the role of GUSA’s “backbone” in her administrative position. She was previously responsible for travel and transport administration for over 50 clubs and disseminating relevant information to club executive committees. In the hustings, she centred on the importance of organising and overseeing freshers week, claiming that it was of paramount importance for gaining future GUSA members. Jessica also mentioned the new and updated Blues and Colours committee and event, and how this is now a separate entity from the GUSA ball.

Vice-President - Uncontested

Charlie Dickens

Charlie is a third year Economics and History student, she has previously served on the GUSA Welfare and Events Committees and is currently serving as GUSA Club Sports Convenor.

She highlights achievements such as obtaining a record-breaking number of signups for executive committee club development meetings. She mentioned her continued interest to work with the development of clubs and her intention to serve the interests of GUSA clubs. During the hustings, she spoke about her objectives regarding the execution of the GUSA ball. She responded to questions about potential changes to the ball by explicating that nearly 2,000 GUSA members were interested and she was looking to secure a bigger venue to accommodate this interest. She claims that she will do everything she can to “be the best for members.”

President - Contested

Phoebe Reilly

Phoebe is a fourth year Politics and Philosophy student, having held the position of Welfare Convenor last year she is now running for GUSA president. Phoebe has been a member of netball, hockey, lacrosse and ski & snow clubs. In her second year, Phoebe was also a fresher’s helper and a member of the Welfare Committee. In her time as Welfare Convenor, Phoebe has increased welfare engagement by 130%, created strong cross-campus links, created a welfare guide for clubs to help find support services (a “welfare bible” according to Ewan Galbraith), and liaised with the Health and Fitness Convenor to set up safe space.

Phoebe wants to keep welfare at the forefront of GUSA’s priorities, making it a safe and accessible space for everyone, including minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community and students with disabilities. 

Phoebe has a clear cut set of goals which include restructuring the council, reforming finance, introducing intermural sport, and adapting the way GUSA uses the Portal.

Shereif Kholeif

Shereif is a sixth-year Medical student and has previously served on the GUSA council for two years as Vice President and Finance Convenor. He also has undertaken the roles of Muay Thai club captain, treasure, and is currently the Muay Thai Welfare Convenor. He has also been involved with tennis, surf, ski and snow, and basketball. His achievements include increasing membership from 180 to 450 in the space of a year, organising the first trans swim event, and transformed Muay Thai’s finances from £37 to £10,000. 

Shereif based his manifesto on the acronym WAVE: Welfare, Accessibility, Visibility, and Excelling club sport. He mentioned several ideas he intended to implement such as better safeguarding for female members, an annual festival of sport, building more sustainable clubs, and providing an ongoing review of policies within GUSA. 

Shereif focussed on introducing a new model for sponsorship whereby GUSA would be sponsored as a whole as opposed to particular clubs in order to bring in more money. 

Both candidates were asked a series of questions. Here is a selection of what they were asked with their responses:

Q: How would each candidate make reporting procedures be more effective?

Phoebe explained that GUSA is a university association and it is a common misconception that GUSA are the leading authority when it comes to handling issues within the community. Phoebe hopes that the cross-campus student bodies can come together to lobby for better university handling of these matters.

Shereif supported Phoebe’s statements, reinforcing that the GUSA council is an elected student council who aren’t always in control of these matters. Shereif would like to increase transparency on how reporting procedures operate and to work alongside more charities to fill in the gaps the university policy misses.

Q: What will each of you bring to the role?

Phoebe believes she will bring a friendly face for anyone to chat to. She wants to be a personal trusted advocate that anyone can come to with any issues.

Shereif believes he can bring enthusiasm and personal experience to the role. He believes his experience sets him apart, even if it sometimes comes across as “a bit too keen.”

Q: How will you handle discrimination in your clubs, particularly antisemitism? Will you be giving training on antisemitism?

Phoebe thinks this is an incredibly important issue. In order to combat this, she aims to host meetings with individual clubs to find out their own issues before setting policy and training. 

Shereif highlighted that this could be better handled with more diverse training. 

Both candidates intend to ask where the gaps are with inclusivity, in order to be a more diverse and responsive association. 

Q: How will you engage non-club members in sport?

Phoebe wants to engage non-club members through intermural sport, something she picked up in her year abroad in America. 

Shereif would increase engagement by hosting an annual festival of sport as well as incentivising club activities by rewarding members who have tried the most clubs with being entered into a prize draw to win a free membership. 

Q: With GUSA presidency comes free entry to HIVE. After a long day, what pint of fun are you unwinding with at the GUU?

Phoebe would like the one-off gin x Hooch pint of fun that was offered but will happily settle for a tropical.

Shereif would like to stick with his trust favourite: a tropical pint of fun, arguing he doesn’t think he’s ever had a different kind.



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