SRC spring elections: what happened at the sabbatical positions hustings?

By Jeevan Farthing

Polling opens at 9am on Wednesday 2 March at 9am for the sabbatical positions within the SRC.

The Glasgow Guardian covered hustings for the sabbatical positions on the SRC. These positions are: SRC President (three candidates: Jordan Hunter, Jenna Fraser, Rinna Väre), Vice President Education (two candidates: Micaela Levesque, Miko Mojsiej), Vice President Student Activities (one candidate: Katie Fish) and Vice President Student Support (one candidate: Hailie Pentleton). 

The hustings were live streamed on Facebook from 6pm until just before 9:30pm on Tuesday 1st March, with candidates giving speeches on why they believe they should assume their respective roles, before opening up to questions sent in by students either in advance of or during the hustings.

Further information about the Spring Elections 2022 can be found here. Voting opens on Wednesday 2 March at 9am and closes on Thursday 3 March at 5pm, and can be accessed via the UofG Life app.

Vice President Student Support

Hailie Pentleton: Hailie was unable to attend the hustings live, but submitted a pre-recorded video outlining their candidacy and encouraged students to ask any questions they may have on their campaign pages. She cited her lived experience of strong support systems and involvement within the student community, as assets to her candidacy. Her pledges include: an increased emphasis on student housing and a front-facing student tenancy campaign, a more transparent SRC with fortnightly destress and drop-in sessions, as well as two new welfare positions.

Vice President Student Activities

Katie Fish: Having experience on the SRC since her second year at university and as a freshers’ helper, Katie used her speech to outline her commitment to welfare, which she would exact in her pledge to mandate the existence of welfare officers. She also stressed the importance of crafting an inclusive freshers week for teetotal and local students, as well as her desire to host events like an international students fair throughout the year. Katie was questioned on her plans to improve next year’s welcome for new students, and responded by affirming her pledge to ensure adequate training of freshers’ helpers, as well as setting up a separate ‘clubs and societies’ website from the SRC socials. When asked how she would work with other sabbatical officers, Katie mentioned working with the student support officer on the exam destress programme. To summarise her campaign in five words or less, she said: “promise we’ll have fun together.”

Vice President Education

Micaela Levesque: In her speech, Micaela explained that she is running for the role because she believes access to high quality education results in greater equity in wider society. She outlined three commitments to her campaign. Establishing clear and consistent covid policies from the University.Also, ensuring adequate funding for postgraduate and mature student programmes and representation. Finally, working with the student representative system to facilitate communication channels at all levels and offering direct support to representatives herself.

Miko Mojsiej: Miko started his speech with a diatribe against the recent record of the University, mentioning the butchering of mental health services, mismanagement of student housing and confusing exam policies. He then pledged to fight for the best interest of students: he would endeavour to ensure that the increased student intake was matched with increased funding for housing and services, scrap hidden course costs, push the University to adopt the green new deal, and amend the SRC constitution to increase its democratic credibility. He then justified his ability to implement these changes through his experience as an academic representative on the SRC council, and as a campaigner for migrants’ rights. He then summarised his manifesto as encapsulating fairness.

Questions were asked of both of the candidates. While Micaela argued that the current student intake is matched with appropriate but not adequately allocated investment, Miko said that, despite the increased student intake, investment in mental health services has stagnated. Both candidates pledged to further the already established work on decolonising the curriculum. When asked on where they agreed and disagreed with each others’ policies, Micaela praised Miko’s emphasis on social solidarity but said she would allocate less time to overhauling the SRC process and instead focus on improving the current system, while Mico agreed with Micaela’s emphasis on the importance of communication. Both candidates were asked whether they would push the SRC to review its support of strikes in the event of their persistence. Micaela only answered that she was fully in support of the current industrial action, but then clarified when questioned individually that she would always listen to student opinion, while Miko said he would initiate a new review for each new period of industrial action, but emphasised his support for strikes so far, stating he would work closely with the UCU to mitigate the impact of them on students.

Individual questions were then asked to Miko and Micaela. Miko was challenged on whether his campaign focused too much on bureaucracy and committee related matters, and responded by saying he would set up a constitutional committee, so those specifically interested in it could implement the necessary structural changes. 

Micaela was challenged on the relevance of her professional experience in policy and research when her SRC experience is lacking, but she said that she has had lots of communication with those that do have SRC experience, and that her knowledge of structures other than the SRC would bring fresh insight.

Finally, both candidates were asked to summarise their campaigns in five words or less. Micaela: “I make the change you want”. Miko: “people over profit”.

SRC President

Jordan Hunter: Jordan started his speech emphatically by quoting Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: “it’s about drive, it’s about power, stay hungry, we devour”. He says that his manifesto shows that anyone can participate in the SRC, and that it is hard to call the SRC democratic or representative at the moment, with low turnout in elections and not all positions being filled. He said that his experience of holding the University to account through media connections will help reverse this. He described his campaign as not one of promises (these were limited to holding regular surgeries and always looking for solutions), but principles.

Rinna Väre: Rinna asserted her candidacy through mentioning her experience on the SRC as a gender equality officer, which involved working closely with the sabbatical officers. She has been the president and campaign coordinator of GU Amnesty and was a SRC freshers’ helper. Her vision involves fostering a greater understanding of the SRC among students, as well as greater trust, communication and outreach with societies.

Jenna Fraser: As the Treasurer of the Glasgow University Accounting Society and the President of the Glasgow Student Dance Company, Jenna cited her experience of running events throughout Covid, which helped to maintain the physical and mental health of students. She pledged to improve infrastructure so that reports of abuse are dealt with appropriately and students can feel safe on campus. Her experience as a home student means that she wants the next freshers’ to be the most inclusive and welcoming for all students. She wants all students to have awareness of the SRC, and would work with the Vice President Student Activities so that performance societies have proper rehearsal space on campus. 

Questions were asked to all of the candidates. 

As to how qualified each of the candidates are to line manage the three remits, Rinna mentioned her awareness of work to decolonise the curriculum as a council member (pertains to education), her experience as a freshers’ helper (pertains to student activities) and her experience as a gender equality officer (pertains to student support). Jordan emphasised that the most effective provision of support happens not through micromanagement but encouraging autonomy, while also citing his experience as a welfare officer at the curling club and The Glasgow Guardian. Jenna said her experience as a class rep pertains to the education remit, and her experience as President of the Glasgow Student Dance Company pertains to both the roles of student support and student activities. Regarding the reasons for each candidate deciding to pursue this role, rather than a higher-paying graduate job, Rinna cited her experience of seeing the SRC enacting change such as the ‘no detriment’ covid policy, Jordan portrayed the opportunity as once in a lifetime, while Jenna cited not wanting other students to share her experience of not initially knowing about the SRC and the support she could have had.

In continuing the work of the University on tackling gender based violence, Rinna pledged to work with the Vice President Student Activities to provide codes of conduct for societies, Jordan emphasised the need to tackle mismanagement and promote prevention, while Jenna focused on the provision of infrastructure. When asked to hypothetically cut and strengthen one SRC service: Jordan would cut the second-hand book shop (after originally saying the council pizza budget), Rinna would cut volunteering, and Jenna would cut printing services. Jordan would strengthen training workshops, while both Rinna and Jenna would strengthen the advice centre. The candidates were also asked about their stances on joining the NUS. Jordan is opposed and said that joining would be to the detriment of students seeking representation. Rinna praised some of the campaigns conducted by the NUS, but both herself and Jenna said that discussions about joining are irrelevant to students at the moment.

Individual questions were then asked.

Jenna was challenged on her ability to represent herself professionally on the University Court given the extensive focus of her manifesto on the remit of the Vice President Student Activities. She emphasised that her manifesto pertains to areas she feels passionately about, but that does not undermine her ability to embrace her other responsibilities. Rinna was asked how she will implement her manifesto commitment to tackle student poverty. She said she would push for the removal of hidden costs within degrees, and would challenge the current policy of paid work not being within the remit of ‘good cause’ claims. Jordan was asked whether his production of a joke manifesto simply discredits the SRC, but he disagreed and said that he is discrediting the way the SRC does things, rather than the SRC as a body.

Finally, the candidates were asked to summarise their campaigns in five words or less. Jordan: “no we can’t”, Rinna: “ensuring effective and accurate representation”, Jenna: “big changes to be made”.


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