Nick Johnson, VP Welfare and Communities candidate interviewed

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It’s that time of year again; concourse is heaving, you’re inundated with Facebook group invitations and you’re seeing the phrase ‘Vote for…’ on every notice-board on campus. All of this can only mean one thing: the sabbatical elections have begun. With only a week for students to decide who to vote for we thought we’d give you the opportunity to get to know the people behind the campaign fliers.

Nick is running for VP Welfare and Communities. We managed to track him down during this busy week of campaign preparation to ask him some questions…

Hi Nick, what made you nominate yourself for this position?

I was part of a campaign team last year for Charlotte Davidson. It was a hell of a lot of work but also a lot of fun. I’ve always tried to get into as many student activities as possible and this is something I didn’t want to leave off the list. Welfare’s been something that I’ve had a big interest in from first year. It’s so broad – which makes it challenging to explain to people, but the areas it covers are crucial.

When it comes to letting students take responsibility for themselves, I’d like to think I’ll be a little more laid back. We’re all adults.

What can you give to this position that other nominees can’t?

I think I’ll be more relaxed about certain aspects of welfare. When it comes to bringing awareness or lobbying against the council for getting better policing, I’ll be as ferocious as they will. But when it comes to letting students take responsibility for themselves, I’d like to think I’ll be a little more laid back. We’re all adults. Although, I’ve got a housemate I’m not too sure about…

We’re all adults. Although, I’ve got a housemate I’m not too sure about…

How will you build on the work done by VP Welfare and Communities in previous years?

Frankie’s made some great strides in mental health awareness. In my first year I remember that wasn’t quite so highlighted. The physical side always was, with sexual health, but the mental health awareness which Frankie initiated is great and I’d love to continue that.

Many students are unaware of the Sabb roles in the union until election week comes around. How do you intend to make your role more visible to students throughout the year and not just during election week?

I do want to try and run a hands-on year. That’s what the ‘waction-man’ posters were trying to convey. Last year out of 22,000 eligible voters there were only 7000 that voted. I mean that’s what, a third?

I’m an English student so you’re asking the wrong person; hypothetically though, we’ll say it’s a third.

Another one in the humanities boat! But no, it’s not great. To try and make elections more relevant to people is the ultimate puzzle. I think many people get turned-off because they don’t want someone nannying after them…  I’m here to tell them that’s not what it’s about.

I think many people get turned-off because they don’t want someone nannying after them…

You stress in your manifesto that well-being and home-life are the two features of student life that you want to concentrate on. We’ve touched on home-life; can you elaborate on how you’re going to tackle the well-being side of your campaign?

For those in halls, I want to give a lot more responsibility to JCRs. Rather than issue blanket proclamations of what’s going to be good for every single fresher, I’ll give my sketched-out ideas to JCRs who, after spending time with freshers, can tailor them. I don’t expect a fresher to believe in me just because I’ve been elected the year before they got here, that’s ridiculous. Of course there are also a lot of students in private housing and hopefully the private rented society can help me with that.

I want to give a lot more responsibility to JCRs.

If you could only hold office for one day, what would you do?

I’d have a massive festival of music and performance art, dance, poetry readings and hold it at Glen Eyre or one of the big halls, really try and get the community in. I’d invite the residents support association to get in contact with the halls… just do one big, fun, but safe blow-out.

Which politician do you think you’re most like?

I’m not going to go for the cliché of ‘I’d hope I’d be able to set my own trend and start something different’. I’ve met Iain Duncan Smith, but he was very dull. I’d hope I was the opposite of him.

How did you meet him?

We did some debating at secondary school; it was ‘The-Iain-Duncan-Smith-Debating-Challenge’ or something like that. But he was making my parents fall asleep, let alone me… so not him! I’d say for being able to work stupidly hard and at the same time have a bit of fun, Ken Livingstone. Although, hopefully without all the illegitimate children.

If you had a million pounds and one hour to spend it, what would you spend it on?

I think I’d buy my student house. We’ve personalised it so much over the last two years… the landlord probably won’t want it back to be honest! And there’d have to be a party. It’s my twenty-first coming up in June so getting a few people round and some performers, that’d be nice.

You’re stuck on a desert island and you can only have three things with you: one person, one item and one song. Which would they be?

Abed from Community would be my person. My item would be my bookshelf… if that’s allowed. With my books on it if that’s possible… that’s a bit of a cheeky one. And the song would probably depress me, but it’s helped me through a few hard times, Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen.

We’ll end on something nice: how do you plan on celebrating if you win?

A bloody long lie-in to be honest. Oh and a hot bath would be nice as well … but not in my student house – that would be horrific! Go home to mum and dad, get them to look after my welfare.

Nice closing-statement there Nick!

 

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