The Student Leader Sutton Bonington (SB) Question Time took place on Friday night on Sutton Bonington campus. SB students attending the event commented on how isolated they still feel from University Park (UP) campus and its activities, and on the lack of interest that SU executives continue to have in SB. All candidates promised to improve on the above.
Activities Officer candidates proposed greater transparency of funding, improved accessibility for students – particularly SB students – and improved training of society committees. The failure of STARS training was addressed in particular. Ryan Holmes stated that STARS training was a “complete waste of time,” and there was a general consensus that the SU should move away from what Knappie described as a “one size fits all” approach to training. Ben Malone expressed his support for training that was “specific to the type of society”, while Emma Amanshia highlighted the need for greater communication and support from the Activities Officer towards the SB guild.
Questions posed to the candidates running for Education Officer included: post-graduate marking of under-graduate work, language barriers of international students, and problems of hidden or additional course costs. Tyler O’Sullivan asserted that post-graduates were being “attacked on three sides” which included being paid “abominably low wages”. James Ince argued however that “post-graduate marking should only be limited to first year students”, due to the fact that grades count thereafter. Jack Law stated that he would “pressure the government” in order to eradicate course costs while Dasha Karzunia outlined that she would “identify which departments in particular struggle” with these costs and “work with welfare” to resolve the problem.
Sports Officer candidates Jamie Sims and Tom Hicks shared a commitment to making sports accessible for all, in particular increasing sports participation among disabled students. Both candidates admitted however that they had not considered the problem of accessibility to sport for LGBT students. Jamie Sims outlined that “sports practices and sports achievements” should be covered much more by the “student media outlets”. Attempts by the SU to merge the sports team of UP and SB were discussed. Tom Hicks made clear that he thought that the “SB teams are being bullied over this matter by a campus that simply has more people”.
The Equal Opportunities and Welfare candidates expressed their support for improved health care and mental health access for SB students. They highlighted the importance of communication between the SU executive, groups and societies. Mike Dore outlined his intention to set up a joint SU and university committee so that “the university will actually take these issues seriously”. Lucy Wake suggested that there should be a “health representative available on SB 24 hours a day”. Fiona Kelly argued that welfare will be improved with the family network because it will be a “first and direct [point of contact] for arriving students” in need of support. Yewande Akeju made clear the importance of “constant dialogue” between officers, groups, societies and students in improving the welfare of students. Joe Sheedy did not take part in the Question Time.
The issues raised to candidates running for Community Officer concerned accessibility for disabled students, public transport, food, and differences in what is offered at UP and what is offered at SB. It is no surprise therefore that a key concern for SB is how the new Community officer will ensure that SB students’ interests are represented. Michael Olatokun asserted that he understood the concerns of SB, admitting that he felt “largely ignored by the SU” whilst living off campus during his first year. Jacques Domican – Bird pledged that he would come to “SB once every fortnight”, no matter what other commitments that he has. Dave Cordell outlined that it was “a sham that only a few rooms are accessible to disabled students”. Adam Jasko spoke about the need to “improve vegetarian food” for students, while Abz Tayeb proposed an “accommodation forum” which would better respond to the needs of students.
SB commented on the failure of elected Presidents and officers to return to SB during their tenure and the importance of a strong relationship between the guild of SB and the SU Executive. The candidates were thus tested on whether they could name the current members of the SB guild and their positions. Together they just about managed to name them all. Ellie Mc William advocated greater contact with students, saying “no-one knows who we are so we need to get our faces out there”. Tom van Wesseldine supported a “full time sabbatical role for the SB chair”, while Will Clempner stated that the SU Executive should have “office space” at SB. Luke Mitchell advocated a SU pod scheme which would allow students to “take advantage of services wherever [they] are”, and Johnny Lawrence expressed his desire to “break down cliques, boundaries and barriers [among students] to making friends”. Shehroze Khan commented that the SU executive is not “properly representative of international students”, something which he plans to change. Anil Parmar highlighted that “the Students’ Union should be coming to [students] to [find] out what [their] issues and needs are, and empowering [them] to be able to change”. The Dark Knight did not take part in the question time.