- Candidate Interview – President: Thomas Gravatt
- SUSU Elections: Please Stop Treating Us Like Kids
- Exit Interview: Sam Bailey, VP Welfare
- Candidate Interview: Christina Vinothan, VP Welfare
- Exit Interview: Ben Franklin, President
- Candidate Interview- President, Liibaan Mohammed.
- Candidate Interview: President, Sam Bailey
- Candidate Interview: George Seabrook, VP Welfare
- Candidate Interview: Michael Clarke VP DCI
- Candidate Interview: Bryony Newman, VP DCI
- Candidate Interview: David Allwright, VP Welfare
- Exit Interview: Kerry Slater, VP DCI
- Candidate Interview – President: Alex Hovden
- SUSU Elections: A Pioneering Union Or A Waste of Time?
- Candidate Interview: Cameron Meldrum, VP DCI
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 Ben Franklin about his time in office and the advice he would give to the next Union President.
So Ben, what did you hope to achieve as a sabbatical officer this year? Do you think you’ve gone far enough to meet the goals you set out in your manifesto?
I hoped to achieve lots. I wanted susu to have a better reputation, I think if I had to some up the essence of my presidency in one thing it would be making SUSU a place where people are happy to be, where people want to be, a place where people know they can be a part of.
I think that good work is going on with the brand review and the democracy review. I think that the number of people running for positions is a great sign, although some are still uncontested. Of course there is still lots to be done but I 4 and a half months leftm so plenty of time to run a campaign to let people know that SUSU is here for their benefit.
What are you most proud of in your past 8 months in the job?
I am most proud of forming a cohesive team spirit in the Sabb team that’s lead to some really amazing collaborative projects. It has been commented on as being a more united front than previous years.
How important has the brand review been to SUSU’s image. Are you happy to have seen the brand review in action finally?
The brand review is vitally important. We are dealing with years and years of bad feelings surrounding the organisation. Whilst the majority of students are apathetic, there is a small minority who shout the loudest. We are trying to overcome that. Apathy towards the Union is the absolute last thing I want, I’d rather people had an opinion rather than no opinion at all. The brand review will go to great lengths to rectify that problem. I’m really happy to see it put into action finally. Far too often things get talked about but don’t actually come into action. I’m happy to have started one of these long term projects towards development of the union.
One of your main points in your manifesto was to create an environment for students to use, are you satisfied with the plans for the renovation of The Cube? Do you think the plans go far enough to reach those aims?
I think the plans are really good. It will create a space for students to play music which is one of the most frequent things I heard when I was campaigning last year. The renovations are part of a much wider ongoing plan, I’ve been meeting with architects relatively regularly to discuss a building renovation in 3-5 years’ time. I’m inspired by their creativity; they’re coming up with amazing ways in which we could use space more efficiently throughout the building. To make sure that all of our student groups needs are met in terms of space, whether that be storage, performance, or meeting and social space.
Are you satisfied with your input?
Yes absolutely, I had a lot of say in appointing architects. I meet with them regularly to lead focus group and have them meet lots of students, for example, a disabled student to make them think more widely about the needs of the building. So far they’ve been very responsive to everything that’s been said.
You spoke in your manifesto about making an effort to improve SUSU’s presence at NOC and Winchester. How well do you think you’ve achieved this?
So in the first semester, I did a lot of drop ins. They were refreshing. It was one of the first time some students felt like someone had come to see them and were interested in them. Demand fell off for them at the end of semester one so it’s not something I’ve continued this term but we have a lot more active campaigns going on there now, including having a site officer at Winchester and great plans for the elections to make sure we’re getting people more involved in the democratic processes of the union.
What have you enjoyed most in your role as president? What advice would you give to the next Union President?
The thing I’ve enjoyed most is how much I’ve learned about SUSU as an organisation that I can now carry forward into the rest of my life. So all of the personal and professional skills you learn from being thrown ‘in at the deep end’. My advice to the next president would be to be ambitious and come stocked with ideas. The rest with follow. Nobody can step into the role and be ‘the perfect president’, it comes with time. The skills can be learned, but the ambition and passion is what you need to bring.