Editor-in-Chief Lucy Dunn and News Editor Luke Chafer break down the 2022/23 SRC sabbatical candidate manifestos.
Nominations for major positions on the 2022/23 student board of the SRC, Glasgow University’s Student Representative Council, have now closed as of Friday 18 February. The SRC elections are held annually, with four paid sabbatical positions on offer, which includes president of the union alongside three vice-presidents (of student activities, education, and student support respectively), alongside various class and course representative positions across all university courses. With elections fast approaching, The Glasgow Guardian presents interviews and analysis on all the candidates running for the four paid sabbatical officer positions next year.
The SRC, as one of the four student bodies on campus, aims to represent student voices and is currently the only student body to hold positions within both the University Court, with two seats, and University Senate, where it holds 12 seats. It also offers numerous advice and support services, including Nightline and the student job hub. Additionally, the union presides over 300 clubs and societies across University campus, and holds primary responsibility for the organisation of freshers’ week. On top of all that, the SRC also have a budget of over £600,000 to manage. From student advice services to pivotal social events in the student calendar, these all fall within the domain of the representative council which, at the top, is made up of the four sabbatical officers.
Polling for these positions is to open on Wednesday 2 March at 9am, closing the following day at 5pm, with the results to be announced shortly after.
The most senior of the sabbatical officers is the president, whose role is to provide both leadership direction and vision for the organisation. From the time of nominations closing, there are three candidates currently vying for your vote this election cycle.
Degree: Politics and Central Eastern European Studies
Stand-out quality: “I think my accent is pretty distinguishable, being from Ohio and all.”
Hailing from Ohio, Jordan is in his fourth year of his undergraduate degree at Glasgow. Previous Editor-in-Chief of The Glasgow Guardian and current Secretary of the Dialectics Society, Jordan has varied experience in a number of large university societies, however he has never held a position in the SRC itself. His manifesto is a mixed bag, but on interview with The Glasgow Guardian, Jordan presented both comical and serious points about why he has decided to run for SRC President.
When asked why he was running, he responded, “I guess for the thrill of it.” Continuing on: “If I really dig down,” Jordan told us, “I want people to engage with the SRC and see that it is not some untouchable bureaucracy from on high. This year, most positions are going unfilled, and of the ones that are filled, they are uncontested. There is a critical lack of engagement from students and I think it’s because the SRC appears to be this thing that only certain students have a right to participate in. I want to show that if I can run on my bad ideas, anyone with a half-baked idea can participate.” Perhaps evidence of serious motivations behind what to many would be seen as a front of lunacy, in his proposals to fund a space programme and rid classrooms of ghosts.
"I want people to engage with the SRC and see that it is not some untouchable bureaucracy from on high."
Though he lacks SRC experience, Jordan explained that his previous experience at the student paper was beneficial “because I know how to hold the University to account and have done so judiciously.” Listing examples, he went on: “I petitioned the Scottish Parliament to force student compensation for the strikes and Covid-19. I have argued against the University before the Scottish Information Commissioner over the course of a year and a half to improve transparency.
“I have been in the media complaining about the way they have treated students. I was even fortunate enough to get access to an email chain by the University’s senior management where they talked about me and my interview with the BBC. Needless to say, I live in the University management staff’s heads rent-free.”
“I make no promises whatsoever,” Jordan commented when probed on his manifesto points and changes he hopes to bring to the SRC. “Too often candidates are forced into making promises they can’t keep. That’s why my manifesto is all about sending students to the moon, giving away free puppies, or narwhals, banishing ghosts from campus, and opening a Wizarding Department. I think the most unrealistic of my manifesto points is opening a bar in the SRC building, mostly because it might require sacrificing the council’s pizza budget. However, on a more serious note, I think it is fair to let people know where I stand on the issues: I oppose joining the NUS, I would like to focus on improving campus safety, I support student compensation for strikes, and I would like to hold the University more accountable.
“I’ve won some battles, and I’ve lost some, but I know it’s all about keeping the pressure up. Too often, I feel student leaders just accept what they are told by university management. It’s in my nature to question everything, and I would certainly confront the University to get what students want.”
With serious motivations, strong views on key university issues and experience holding the University to account, it begs the question as to why Jordan has opted for the platform he has. But perhaps his satirical manifesto will be what enthuses the student population to take part in these coming elections.
Degree: Accounting with Finance
Stand out quality: Outgoing, motivated and committed
Current President of Glasgow Student Dance Company (GSDC) and the Treasurer of the Accounting Society Jenna has previously held leadership positions within University societies but like Jordan none within the SRC. Her manifesto is a blend of the role duties outlined on the SRC page and generic statements about “how important it is that all voices are heard by the university” lacking an empowering vision. However, her interview with The Glasgow Guardian provided a slightly greater insight into her ambition to lead the SRC.
Jenna told us: “I am running for the position because I am extremely committed to improving all students' experiences on campus while maintaining what the SRC already does well. I know the importance of all of students' voices, from individuals to the clubs and societies, to the student bodies, which is why I want to help give the opportunity to those voices to make real changes within the SRC.
Building on her manifesto Jenna told The Glasgow Guardian about her plans to further unite the sabbatical team next year: “I will work closely with the VP of student activities (VPSA) and the student bodies across campus to ensure that freshers’ week continues to be a fantastic and very inclusive week for all students, including those who live at home or away from campus. As a home student myself for the first three years of university, this is something that is really important to me, as I know the difficulty that comes with attending [events] so far away.
"I will work closely with the VP of student activities (VPSA) and the student bodies across campus to ensure that freshers’ week continues to be a fantastic and very inclusive week for all students, including those who live at home or away from campus."
“While working closely with the VP of student support (VPSS) I want to strengthen the support we offer for all international students, to ensure that their transition to Glasgow is as smooth as possible.”
Continuing on her theme of better care for Glasgow’s students, Jenna commented: “I also want to improve the reporting and support infrastructure at the university. Glasgow was highlighted as one of the worst universities for racial abuse, and it was reported that students don’t have confidence that reports will be taken seriously. This is something that will be my main priority, to ensure that all reports of any type of abuse are taken with the utmost seriousness. I will ensure that all students, as far as possible, receive the expected level of support in relation to these incidents.
Holding previous positions of treasurer both in the Glasgow University Dance Society and in the Glasgow University Accounting Society, Jenna has certainly demonstrated commitment, responsibility and now, as president of GUDS, leadership qualities.
However, Whilst her motivations seem earnest and her points raised in both her manifesto and interview are just, her lack of experience in student politics is demonstrated by the lack of detail supporting her overarching aims. But then perhaps an outsiders opinion is what the SRC needs.
Interestingly, at the time of writing, Jenna appears to be the only candidate without a Facebook campaign page, and has a far quieter social media presence than her competitors.
Degree: Politics and Sociology (Undergrad 4th year)
Stand out quality: Experience
Rinna is by far the most experienced candidate within the SRC, following the mould of previously successful candidates. This year, she held the position of Gender Equality Officer on the council, helping to implement the new gender-based violence model on moodle. Previously, Rinna has also held positions as freshers’ helper team leader, SRC ambassador and class representative. On top of this, she has also worked as campaigns coordinator and president of GU Amnesty, and a PR coordinator of the Glasgow University Nordic Society.
On being asked about why she believes she is the right person to take on the role of SRC president, Rinna said: “Especially during the difficult past two years I have seen, both as a student and as a council member, the positive impact the SRC can have on the student experience. Students deserve to have their views advocated for with the same passion next year and that’s why I’m running for the position of president.”
"I have seen the positive impact the SRC can have on the student experience. Students deserve to have their views advocated for with the same passion next year and that’s why I’m running for the position of president.”
However, she also shed light on what improvements could be made within the organisation: “I wish to increase the visibility of the SRC and our services amongst the student population. I think most students feel very distant from the SRC and don’t have a proper understanding of our work and the services we offer - which is completely understandable. However, the essence of the SRC is to include as many students as possible in our work, which is why it is essential to do more outreach work, for example, in halls, and different campuses.”
Making the point that “trust between the SRC and other students” is key, Rinna explained that she wants to ensure the SRC “remains a loud and ambitious advocate for student needs, not only within the University, but also within Glasgow in general”.
However, with Rinna already being part of the SRC system currently, perhaps change, if it is to be made, wouldn’t be seen most radically with her in power.
There are two nominees for the role of Vice-President Education. A role, which in a nutshell, aims to provide effective student input into the University decision making and policy review process on all areas of the student learning experience.
Degree: MSc Creative Industry and Cultural Policy
Stand-out quality: “My experiences as an international and postgraduate student!”
Running for VP Education Micaela has gone for the position “because I believe in the value of student representation for equality in the academic experience. I want to help make the feedback gathered from students have a tangible impact on the University.”
Whilst without SRC experience, Micaela emphasises the skills she gained during her first degree: “I helped develop new systems of communication and representation in my department, and after my undergraduate degree, I worked in a legal office. I have a lot of experience with refining policy and communicating within complex policy systems.
“I helped develop new systems of communication and representation in my department... I have a lot of experience with refining policy and communicating within complex policy systems."
“There are three postgraduate convener seats, as well as the age equality officer position, that are currently unfilled on the provisional candidate list. I feel that having someone who has been a part of these communities will be very valuable for the SRC.”
Micaela’s aims for the coming year are systematically structured but rather generic in substance: “1) Clear communication of Covid-19 policies from academic departments, 2) increasing international and mature student voices in the SRC, and 3) improving the efficiency and follow-through for student concerns raised through the feedback process.” She emphasised the fact that, very often, the student body is adept at identifying improvements that need to be made at the University: “My job would be to bring those ideas to fruition.”
Despite her lack detail in her manifesto points Micaela has strong experience in a role with very similar aims, which would provide expertise if elected.
Stand-out quality: “My experiences from activism to the workplace have given me the passion to fight injustice wherever I see it, and the confidence to do so effectively.”
Law student Miko Mojsiej has both prior experience being in the SRC and running for a sabbatical position, as last year he was the contestant against current President, Ella McCabe. Citing his time on the council this year, Miko says: “I have been on the frontline of the SRC in my role as School Representative. I have gotten real results for students during my time on council. I worked to maintain online exams in the law school for this semester, and I have addressed unfair exams so that students are not caught blindsided by these practices.
Miko also highlighted his experience in wider politics in bringing change: “I spent two years campaigning for immigrant rights, and I sat across the table with the most influential politicians in Scotland to work on these issues, as well as, in 2018, addressing the Scottish parliament.”
With respect to similar job experience, Miko told The Glasgow Guardian about how he “implemented real changes to workplace procedures and cultures, which I am really proud of”.
Not only on the current SRC council, Miko is also the President of the Glasgow Criminal Law Society, in which he has implemented a “previously non-existent” inclusivity and diversity structure.
What does Miko believe should be changed next year? “I believe the SRC should be a student body run by students! To that end, I want to implement real set-in-stone change to the constitution as part of its five-year review. I want to move more responsibility for the everyday running of the SRC to the students. It is inconceivable to me that a student representative body is often shackled by the University – this needs to change!”
“I believe the SRC should be a student body run by students! To that end, I want to implement real set-in-stone change... It is inconceivable to me that a student representative body is often shackled by the University – this needs to change!”
Echoing Jordan’s sentiments of wanting to see honesty and accountability from the top down, Miko stated: “I also believe that transparency is key to good representation. I want to make the SRC as transparent as possible so that all students know what the SRC does, and how decisions are made.”
Many students in the University are not particularly clued up on the various roles that the SRC council offers, and discussing this, Miko said: “I would reform the class representative system to make it a more effective branch of student representation. I would give class reps new training, opportunities and responsibilities, creating a more integrated environment between the class reps and the rest of the SRC. I would also mandate that all class reps are elected, as this would mean better representation for everyone.
In his final message for students in this upcoming election Miko said “I will use every bit of my experience to fight for all of us, and stand up to the University and its unfair treatment of students.”
One of the most invigorating candidates, Miko has a manifesto and interview that suggests he is after real structural change with a clear plan and the know-how to implement it.
Liasing with the University of Glasgow's Clubs & Societies, as well as other unions, for preparation of key campus events like freshers' and refreshers week, the vice-president of student activities (VPSA) is arguably one of the most front-facing of the sabbatical officers.
Stand-out quality: President of the Taylor Swift Society
Although being the only candidate, an issue raised by presidential candidate Jordan, for VP Student Activities, Katie boasts an extensive history on the SRC student council, having been involved since her second year of university. “It’s been a really enjoyable part of my student experience,” she told us. “Through being a freshers’ helper for the last three years, I’ve met some of the best people I know, and every year it amazes me how many close friendships are cultivated through freshers’ helping. I’m really excited to organise a freshers’ week of my own for everyone arriving in Glasgow, and welcome new and current students into the SRC for the week.”
"I’m really excited to organise a freshers’ week of my own for everyone arriving in Glasgow, and welcome new and current students into the SRC for the week.”
Previously, Katie held the position of School of Chemistry representative. “This gave me really insightful experience into the running of the SRC, and although my work mainly focused on academics, I did fit in some student activities by organising and hosting a college-wide Kahoot pub quiz.”
Not only is she involved in the SRC, Katie is also President of the Taylor Swift Society at the University: “I have helped grow the society into one of the largest groups on campus, with almost 600 members. The society is incredibly special to me, and we’ve hosted a lot of events that have gone really well, such as a Taylor Swift Hive, with GUU, karaoke, a subcrawl, a PowerPoint night, and the OG ‘Red’ listening party.”
Providing appriopriate support and care for University of Glasgow students is a vital part of the SRC's purpose, and the role of student support considers crucial components of university life, including accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity for all students.
Degree: English Literature and Philosophy
Stand-out quality: “With experience as a disabled and neurodivergent student, a student carer, a home student, and a university dropout, I'm acutely aware of the need for a strong set of support systems to ensure the smoothest experience possible.”
Again the only candidate running for VP student support (VPSS), Hailie does have prior experience in the SRC, being part of the representative council for the last two years. Currently, she holds the role of Disability Equality Officer, and is also one of the Editors-in-Chief of The Glasgow Guardian, which presents a conflict of interest in our analysis.
When asked about why she is running for VPSS, Hailie stated: “I’ve seen firsthand how the SRC can be used as a vehicle for positive change on campus. I want to harness my passion for student advocacy to be a force for good, to champion the needs and rights of all students in a way that reflects their priorities.”
"I want to harness my passion for student advocacy to be a force for good, to champion the needs and rights of all students in a way that reflects their priorities.”
Despite holding a long-term position on the council, Hailie emphasised the need to “increase the transparency of the SRC, through outreach, communications, and allowing students the opportunity to engage with their representatives more often”.
In terms of manifesto points, Hailie discusses community building, a student mentorship programme, and campaign work around student carers. Whilst concerns may be similar to those for previous candidates in that electing someone who has been in the organisation for so long may not result in change, Hailie does emphasise that she would like to create two entirely new roles on the council, to cater to the needs of “estranged and care-experienced students specifically”.
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