VP Student Communities is the sabbatical charged with representing the interests of particular sub-groups within the overall student body. These include those at the satellite campuses such as Winchester School of Art, the National Oceanography Centre and Southampton General Hospital; students from hard to reach communities like international students, mature students, post-graduate students and student parents; and finally JCR committees for halls and private rented accommodation. Building cohesion between these different groups is part of this responsibility. Another priority is focusing on students with protected characteristics.
Candidate No. 1
Name: Oli “Where’s Wally” Coles
Subject: BSc. Sports Studies
Experience: Current VP Student Communities. Before that Monte JCR President, Stags/Bridge Team Leader, SUSU Duty Manager, Monte Bar Manager and Thursday night’s Karaoke Host.
Main manifesto points:
1. Lobby the University to act as a guarantor for International Students.
2. Increase the provision for international and post-graduate students outside of term time.
3. Create an online presence for all post-graduate content on the SUSU website.
4. Lobby the University to create a dedicated post-graduate space on Highfield campus.
5. Improve the quality of halls accommodation so all students get their monies worth.
6. Improve satisfaction with all outreach students, and support all students when they are on placement.
7. Introduce sabbatical drop in sessions for the three main satellite campuses.
8. Create a direct transport link between Portswood and SGH for medics in the morning.
9. Improve representation of student parents, part-time students, and mature students.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
At the beginning of a sabbaticals term, we plan out our whole entire year, with all our projects placed throughout the year. For the last 6 months, I’ve been focusing on building up the foundations and student representative systems of all our communities. This is something that sadly isn’t very student facing, however, without it, no-one would feel the effects of the projects that come later. This means that all the headline projects I have planned come towards the end of the year, when it will now have the maximum reach and effect. If I were to re-do the past 6 months, I possibly would have pushed some of my deadlines a little earlier. For example, one of my biggest pieces of work, an online campus service, is launched the week after elections, and allows site’s students access to all the services they can get at Highfield, but from the comfort of their own homes!
What sets you apart from the other candidate?
I think my experience does. I have been working with communities ever since I arrived at University. It’s no secret that the bulk of my expertise lies with the JCRs, but within that, is the students themselves that live in Halls. This isn’t just your average 18yr old fresher, but post grad and international students. One of my proudest moments this year was working with the residence support to put on events in halls during Christmas and New Year, so that International students remaining in Southampton had somewhere to go, and didn’t stay in their room during Christmas Day.
I’ve also worked a lot up at Winchester throughout my time at University, and from constant interaction with students there, I can understand and empathize with them how it feels to study at a site. I’ve been a Part Time student myself, and fully understand just how difficult it is for them to get involved with activities at SUSU.
Candidate No. 2
Name: Tom Rogers
Subject: Masters in Mathematics
Experience: SUSU Media, particularly Surge Radio
Main manifesto points:
1. Talking to more of the student leaders and making regular visits to the sites so I can always have a good understanding of the problem areas in each department.
2. Publicising the events that we currently have in place for post-graduates and international students, to get these groups more engaged in the Student Union.
3. Looking into ways for the safety bus to also be at other campuses like the NOC or Avenue.
Is there anything the current Sabb has done that you would have done differently?
Well I’ve said all along that Oli has done a good job on the JCRs but I think that he focussed all of his efforts on only one community that his job requires him to represent. I know it’s nearly impossible to give every student group the exact same level of support, but next year I will try my hardest to make sure that no student group is overlooked, or ignored.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
As I don’t come from any particular background I am set apart in the fact that I don’t rank any group more highly than the others just because I used to be a part of it. I’m different because I can listen to all the groups without natural bias and I am aware that I don’t know what’s best for everyone, so I want the student leaders to be more involved in how the union is run.