Candidate Interview: Ruchika Menon, VP Communities

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In the run up to the 2016 SUSU elections, the Wessex Scene team have been interviewing the candidates running for sabbatical positions. Here, I interview Ruchika Menon hoping to become the next VP Communities.

Why are you running for this role?

I am the current Postgraduate Officer; so have seen the way that SUSU do things and I really admire it. At my University in India we didn’t have a student union. If we didn’t like something we didn’t know who to approach; which made us miss out on many things. Personally, to be given the chance to be part of something like this is really important. Also, as an International Postgraduate student I want to be their voice as I feel that they are underrepresented.

This role covers a lot of areas and student groups; which do you think is the most important element to this role?

I think that everything is equally as important. The only reason that I would keep reiterating about International and Postgraduate students is because they are underrepresented. It is a student community post; so it involves instilling a sense of community in everybody. This is only possible when you include the satellite campuses, the international students, the postgraduate students, the mature students etc.

The WSA, with it being the furthest from Highfield, also feel really underrepresented. How would you make them feel more included in the University?

There has been a new committee set up for the Winchester Campus; which I think is really good… It means that things run more smoothly with clearer results, especially as the Winchester Campus has its own identity compared to the main Highfield Campus. Previously, I have met the Winchester School of Arts President which furthered my understanding of how that campus works as it is very different to Highfield. So, as long as they are under the large umbrella of SUSU they should be given their own reins to a certain extent.

For some of the issues you actively admit that you have no experience in the area. So how do you propose to improve these situations?

I do agree that I have no experience in some of these areas (such as satellite campuses and halls committee). I feel that this is mainly because I only joined the University in September; so I am new to this all. However, this allows me to have a fresher perspective on everything. For some of the issues I can approach them from a different angle, not the usual way that people have been looking at it; which I feel is a massive benefit for me. As an International and Postgraduate student I have a better understanding of the needs of this group of the student union. A major chunk of this role is the Postgraduate and International students; who I feel have been neglected in the past as they have been previously underrepresented. I am not saying that because I have more experience in the bigger areas it makes me a better candidate, just that these areas have been under represented in the past. If, the underrepresented people continue to not have anyone from their category to represent them then they will continue to be underrepresented. I am running for this role to represent these students who I feel have been neglected in the past.

You talk a lot about the problems that international students face in your manifesto. How do you aim to minimise these problems?

The problems they face are simple day to day problems that can be easily fixed. For example, when I arrived in the UK it took me months to set up a bank account. This made me feel really dumb as this should be a simple thing to do. It is more difficult as I came from a different country and there was a major language barrier; which makes things a lot more challenging. I aim to minimise these problems through the creation of videos. I want to tackle these issues to make International students feel more comfortable with a support system that is ready to guide them. If it’s possible, by implementing a buddy system similar to the one that exists in MedSoc. An international student who has experienced these problems can help new students who are arriving through workshops and a buddy system. Another thing that I have noticed is that people are more comfortable speaking in their own language. So, we need representatives from every country who these students can reach out to in their native language.

Your manifesto is very (I would go as far to say solely) focused on International Students and Postgrads, even though you role will involve other responsibilities. What is your response to this?

I realise that my manifesto is very focused on International and Postgraduate students and that I have left the other things untouched. I don’t intend to do this and was hoping that someone would ask me this question, so I can clarify this. It was my mistake and I really should have written more. I do have other ideas for the Halls, Mature Students and even for student parents. I think that Halls is a major part of the role; which I don’t have a lot of knowledge about, despite being in halls at the moment. Even though I focus on International and Postgraduate students, it doesn’t mean that the other issues and groups will go unacknowledged. I want to take a holistic approach focusing on the underrepresented groups.

More articles in SUSU Elections 2015
  1. Candidate Interview: Ruchika Menon, VP Communities
  2. Elections Night Live 2015: Winner Interviews
  3. Late Election Entry: SUSU the Cat
  4. SUSU Elections: The Exit Polls
  5. Candidate Interview: Roman Martin, VP Sports Development
  6. Candidate Interview: Ashley Sivarajah, VP Sports Development
  7. Candidate Interview: Jamie Wilson, VP Sport Development
  8. Candidate Interview: Stephen Barratt, VP Sports Development
  9. Candidate Interview: Rebecca Lake, VP Student Communities
  10. SUSU Elections: Debates Round-Up
  11. Candidate Interview: Benjamin Franklin, President
  12. Candidate Interview: Chris McGeehan, VP DCI
  13. Candidate Interview: Kerry Sclater, VP DCI
  14. Candidate Interviews: Dan Varley and Flora Noble, JCR Officer
  15. Candidate Interview: Hannah Talbot, VP Engagement
  16. Candidate Interview: Shruti Verma, VP Education
  17. Candidate Interview: Jenny Bortoluzzi, VP Engagement
  18. Candidate Interview: Anjit Aulakh, VP Student Communities
  19. Candidate Interview: Chibeza Mumbi, VP Welfare
  20. Candidate Interview: Sam Bailey, VP Welfare
  21. SUSU Election Rumours: Who’s Running?
  22. BREAKING: VP Engagment Candidate Daniel Clemence Withdraws from SUSU Elections
  23. BREAKING: SUSU Election Candidates Revealed
  24. Elections Night Live 2015: Candidate interviews
  25. ELECTIONS NIGHT LIVE 2015: The Results
  26. PAUSE ELECTIONS LIVE BLOG 2015
  27. ELECTIONS NIGHT LIVE 2015
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Deputy Editor 2016 -2017. I'm a Geography student here at Southampton. Also, an avid adventurer; who is always up for discovering somewhere whether it's new or old.

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