Following a successful Media Day, Impact News presents your part time candidates for the University of Nottingham Students’ Union 2016 elections.
“I am from Hungary. I am currently a second year Politics and Economics student and I am running for the International Students’ Officer position”. Csongor is running uncontested for the position.
In his first year Csongor founded the Hungarian Society, of which he has been President since its advent three years ago. He believes that forming part of a cultural society gave him “an insight into this area of the University… as well as allowing [him] to gain good leadership skills”.
Csongor detailed how this role and the informal nature of the society has allowed him to broach issues that are important to students. He has three key manifesto points but added that he was willing to take on opinions, especially in terms of “integration”. However, he believes that “there is much more that we can improve upon” overall for international students.
He particularly wanted to create an international students’ ball. This would primarily be “about cultural societies performing and people wanting to work in events”. Speaking on his personal experience he remarked that he “really liked it here and so didn’t struggle to integrate” nevertheless he agreed that “the first few weeks and months can be hard”.
Csongor highlights how the University is very supportive and provides free English language courses for free to those that feel that can benefit from it.
However, he expressed his interest in improving the Fresher’s Fair that this year was held over a series of days due to there not being a facility to hold it all in one place. He identified the fact that they were organised according to different types of society. He argued that this discouraged people to come and look at other societies that they would not have necessarily tried.
Flora Maier is a second year student studying History and Classics, originally from Vienna.
When talking to Impact, Flora placed particular focus on inclusivity regarding the Women’s Network as a main manifesto point. “I think it feels too much like a society or club rather than a network or a community.”
Flora asserts that expansion of the network should occur. She believes that most women on campus may not be aware of the Women’s Network and would like to promote the network on University Park, and also focus more on the satellite campuses. She also believes that the network could reach out further to post-graduates – “there is far too much focus on undergraduates”.
Flora told Impact that her attendance at a girl’s boarding school has exposed her to people from different environments. “You get to talk to people and you get to meet people from different backgrounds.”
Her experience as the President of the Voice Your Rights Project (a student led project that campaigns for human rights) would be drawn upon in the role, she says. “From a more administrative side, I think that’s quite beneficial” Flora told Impact. She says she is used to balancing a multitude of different tasks which she feels will be important in a Student Officer role.
In regards to campaigning, Flora says that she has “lots of lovely friends who are willing to help [her] out. It should be a lot of fun.”
Flora ran for Women’s Officer last year and was unsuccessful, but is the only nominated candidate this year.
August is running for Women’s Officer. Her manifesto is not available at this point.
Lux is running for LGBT Officer. Their manifesto is not available at this point.
MATURE STUDENTS’ OFFICER
My name is Christos Konstantinou. I am a 21 year old student currently in my first year, studying BSc Finance, Accounting and Management.
I am standing to be the Mature Students’ Officer, because I want to illustrate ideas I have, which I believe may play a pivotal role in the development in areas where needed. I want to help addressing issues such as university life, self-esteem, respect and getting more students involved in activities, either by educational means, exercise or social events.
Since I am on my first year, I haven’t had any major experience within the university. However, the fact that I served my country as a Second Lieutenant in my 2 year mandatory military service gave me a unique life experience. I have learnt to face and overcome problems as well as being fair to my subordinates. Most importantly I respect my leadership role which I believe will lead to key outcomes for the mature students of our university. I don’t claim to know everything, but I am dedicated to face each new hurdle with a growth mindset, and I would to the best of my ability, conduct myself in both my studies and representative role in an organised and professional manner.
Undoubtedly, the most important policy on my manifesto is the campaign I will be running against the cuts planned by the government for maintenance grants, taking place in September 2016. This will have a gigantic effect on the current mature, low income and prospective students.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
HELEN AND AGATA
Helen and Agata are running together for Students with Disabilities Officer role, hoping to “give disabled students the University experience they want”.
Helen is an MA Statistics with Biomedical Applications student, currently in her sixth year at the University of Nottingham. Agata is a first year History student. The two met via the Disabled Students’ Network and through horse-riding activities for disabled students.
Explaining why they decided to run for the position, Helen told Impact: “When I was younger, I was very sporty and very academic. Everything was open to me – I could do everything I wanted. When I became ill, that completely changed. It was a very lonely place and I don’t want anybody else to be in that situation”.
Agata added: “I don’t want students with disabilities to feel like they have to hide their disability in order to have non-disabled friends”.
The two outlined their plans to “map out academic and social support” whilst at the same time listening to experiences. They want to “empower disabled students to shape their own experiences, rather than having their experienced shaped by their disabilities”.
“Experiences are so limited at university for a disabled student – we want to make it possible for disabled students to be more involved”.Helen and Agata state that they are both “excited for the potential” that the position could provide them.
“Because there are two of us – there’s double the energy”, they said.
“Quite frankly I think there’s a lot of work to be done here”.
Jack Barratt, a 3rd year Politics student, told Impact that his main aim in running for Disabilities Officer is to lessen the gap between disabled students and other students. “[The gap] is not just in terms of overall happiness, but it’s also about how involved they feel with the SU and the university as a whole.”
Jack believes that there is disparity between different schools and faculties. He’s found that while certain schools provide a decent amount of support, there are schools within the university that are lacking in terms of disability support.
“One of the first things I’d do is look at how these schools handle the level of care.”
“I intend to do a questionnaire or survey to gage some primary information into how to improve integration, such as how to make societies more attractive to those who may be mobility limited.” Jack believes that there should be no barriers to disabled students, and would like to create a level playing field.
Jack told Impact that he’d always planned on running for Disabilities Officer, but his experience at the university has encouraged him further. Following external issues in his second year of university, Jack stated that the School of Politics pastoral care was “brilliant” and that it encouraged him “to be confident and carry on with his course” – it made him want to give back.
“People ask me why aren’t you going for a full time position like President, and I’ve said because when you look at the role of President you see the same points again, and again. A student hub in Lenton, better buses, meal card roll-over – but I think that student disabilities is an area where I think you can make some real progress.”
Jack’s slogan is #BackBaratt.
“As somebody who has had been disabled for a long time it has made me quite aware of lots of the issues that can exist and how difficult it can be to solve them”.
Vyv Dryden is first year mechanical engineering student running for the disability officer position. Although he admitted that he has not been at the University for a long time, he expressed hope that “he can make University better” for the large Disabled community.
He detailed how in his secondary school there was not a large community but here it was a really important issue that sometimes can be solved quite easily. One such issue that he pointed out was accessibility and ensuring that lifts are working. This could be done by encouraging the University to properly maintain the lifts he argued.
He added that in his personal experience he encountered “a massive unreliability [in university services] that has meant difficulty in sometimes attending lecture theatres”.
He also looked forward to “meeting a lot of new people” and gauging “people’s responses” to his manifesto.
Addressing the integration in the University community he wanted to create more events that allow “greater awareness of the types of disabilities that are sometimes very vaguely understood. He cited the Ice bucket challenge as an emblematic example of how awareness can be generated.
Attending “Students Disabled Meetings” has enabled him to see the number of issues “which are quite numerous”.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE (ESJ)
Emory Cunnington is a second year Zoology student running for Environmental and Social Justice (ESJ) Officer.
She decided to run for the position after a friend told her that she was “passionate and inspired” and would therefore “be a good candidate for the role”.
Emory believes that her experiences on several committees, including LGBT and UoN Feminists, would help her to fulfil the role.
In response to the fact that she is the only candidate running for the ESJ role, Emory said: “I guess that means I’ll get in and don’t have to worry about campaigning, which is good because I am in a production during campaign week”.
She believes that publicising the network is the most important thing to improve engagement. She said: “Expanding the network would help people to know that they can come to us”.
Emory also wants to encourage collaboration with societies, making change more effective.
In terms of the welfare aspect of the role, as she feels students are more engaged with this, she is interested in the discussion of gender neutral toilets and disability access, which she believes is currently “atrocious”.
She would also like to look at the implementation of a landlord list so that students can find a house that they know they will “not get screwed over in”.
Edited by Belinda Toor
Images: Alex Farzad, Amy Rainbow and Vicky Tortillas