The VP DCI candidates present at the debate tonight were:
- Jonathan North
- Jamie Hanna
- Megan Downing
- Katy O’Brien
- Anjit Aulakh
Thomas Rogers was not present for this debate.
Katy O’Brien said that Council needed better publicity to encourage student attendance. Megan Downing said that Union Council should be more representative of the diversity of SUSU students. When asked about her 0% attendance at Union Council this year, she said she regretted her absences and said they were for personal reasons. Jamie Hanna said that the best way to engage student groups is to put more direct democracy in place, suggesting petitions for referendums on important issues that can be considered at Council to see whether or not they are a viable option. Jon North said that no one knows what Council really does and why it happens, and this needs to be tackled. Anjit Aulakh said he enjoyed Union Council, and was disappointed in the lack of interest and engagement with the council.
Jamie said that SUSU seems out of touch with what societies do and forces groups into doing what they don’t want to do. O’Brien said a whole section of her manifesto was dedicated to student groups and wants more recognition for those who do work within societies, such as society awards. Although Megan didn’t have a dedicated section in her manifesto, she stressed that commitment needs to be recognised. Anjit wanted more support for students to understand what they can actually get from SUSU, and Jon wanted to emphasise communication between SUSU and groups.
A question from the floor concerned whether SUSU should be offering the same level of support to its non-affiliated groups as the affiliated ones. Katy argued that students should be supported, not groups, and that there should be no division between the two. Anjit argued that there is a reason for affiliated and unaffiliated groups existing – unaffiliated need a certain amount of support but not more than affiliated groups. He questioned the point of affiliated groups if they do not get any additional support.
Katy objected to Jon North’s use of the word “prioritised” in reference to affiliated groups. Using the example of the Soton Tab, she argued that its members are also students and should be supported equally.
Space and Storage
Jon North wanted to increase security and quality of storage space, while Megan wanted to utilise the space available first and then discuss further options. Anjit wanted to use the space we currently have but manage it more effectively. Jamie argued that the current provisions for storage were inadequate in both quality and quantity.
Katy said that SUSU take 75% of profits which should go back into student groups. Anjit questioned this, saying that it wasn’t this that discouraged students from doing events, but rather the fact that they didn’t know who to talk to and how to run events. Katy responded that student groups want to put on events but don’t think it is worthwhile for the money they will get back.
Further questions proposed from the floor concerned the ‘Media Officer’ policy which was brought to Union Council in December but didn’t pass. The candidates agreed that more needed to be done to address the disparity in zone representation at Council.
Based on tonight’s debate, who is your favourite for the position? We’ll be releasing articles on the final two debates as they happen. SUSUtv and Surge are also providing live coverage of the debates.