The 2015 SUSU elections are fast approaching and the Wessex Scene team have been interviewing the candidates running for the sabbatical positions that help to run your University. Here, I interview Chris McGeehan, hoping to become the next VP DCI (Vice President for Democracy and Creative Industries).
Why are you running to be the next VP DCI?
Through my time as a student leader and a rep last year, I got the chance to care about the issues that you see. However, having to do a degree at the same time kind of gets in the way of working on those issues. Therefore, it would be really good to spend a full time job doing it. I wanted to run for DCI specifically because it covers the areas that I have the most experience in. Usually candidates for DCI only have experience in one of the areas (democracy or creative industries) but I think I am one of the only candidates for a long while with experience in both areas.
In your manifesto you say you want to not consider DCI as an editorial rule, allowing editors to do their job. Is that implying that you feel the DCI role is currently restrictive on publications?
I have heard there have been occasions where perhaps the DCI has got involved more than they perhaps should have and I am very anti-censorship myself in that regard. Many of the previous candidates have had a strong focus in media areas and I think it’s almost an advantage that I don’t have a relation with any of the media aspects in one strong aspect. The student leaders doing those media jobs, they know the job better than the DCI does, and therefore the DCI should take a more hands off role.
What kind of refurbishment and equipment improvements would you like to see made to SUSUtv and Surge radio?
A lot of my goals in my manifesto are for long term projects and for SUSUtv my plan would be to give them a much better physical space and a better set-up for shows and live broadcasts they want to do. At the moment they have a space that doubles as a broadcast studio and as an editing area and as an office, which is not ideal for them, and is something I want to look at. Also inevitably, in a few years, the equipment they have now will become out of date, so a plan for anticipating future spending needs to be put into place now.
For Surge, I think a recording studio would be something very cool for them to have, and this could also be used by Livesoc and other music societies. This would help Surge to continue to grow as a radio station, so that people have a better chance of finding professional work in radio, through their time at Surge.
In terms of Policy making you want to go out and ask what the students want. How do you intend on doing this and how often will you be able to?
We have a lot of policies at SUSU that are inward facing, which is of course important, but we don’t have many that consider student life in terms of Southampton or even nationally, which other unions focus on more. These are the type of issues I want to ask students about a bit more. Obviously it’s not viable for me to go out every week and ask people about the things they would like to see changed, although it’d be great if I could. Instead, the policy committee and accountability committee, as proposed in my manifesto, could be one way of doing it. Also, I have suggested an overhaul of the union council and this could allow the opinions and issues of students to be involved in policy making more often.
Have you any specific plans/ideas for developing relationships with campus venues and the city and how will this directly benefit students?
I’ve heard a lot this year about the problems we have with on campus arts venues, with the Nuffield and The Turner Sims, and I want to see how we can work better with them. We need to strengthen and build on the ties we have with these venues already and make sure they treat students in a professional manner, and not see students as a burden imposed on them by the University. Also, there is a great opportunity to build links, with the John Hansard gallery that is moving to the Guildhall (to a brand new arts complex in 2016).
If you could only select one policy/initiative to implement if you became DCI what would it be and why?
If I had to pick just one, it would be quite an ambitious one, and it would probably be to overhaul the union council. Although this wouldn’t have an immediate effect, I think the ramifications of it would be quite large; policies would have to be passed by lots of different students, because the policies are relevant to lots of different students. This would lead to more diverse and outward looking policies and would mean that we can hold officers to account and have greater debate over policies, for those students who are interested. I believe this would be great for getting the students here engaged in the democratic process.