It’s election time, so a chance for you to have your say. As campaign week is well underway and the vote is fast approaching, you have surely been bombarded with appeals, views and promises. Although the manifestos offer an account of what the nominations are wanting to achieve, but we have gone one better!
We have hunted down and interrogated interviewed the three nominated for VP Student Engagement: Robert Leane, Shane Murphy and Natalie Ralph. This position’s main roles include supporting student led groups, creating opportunities for the students and organising events throughout the year; not a position to be given away lightly. With one candidate for this position already dropped out, the competition is fierce.
Shane Murphy cordially joined us on the sofas in SUSU to answer some questions.
Shane is the current VP Engagement and has a history in the Union Council, Events Committee and Surge Radio.
What made you choose to apply for this position in particular?
I am already currently in the role, but before I went for this position I looked at all the areas, I tick all the boxes, I really like all the areas and I think I’ve improved those areas of the student union. It is where my background if from, from when I was a student. There are a lot of areas with this role where you can really make progress so that’s why I really want to do it.
How are you planning to build on the work done by people, in your potential position, in previous years?
It would be quite easy to build upon, because what I want to do is rather then coming in as new and starting afresh, I will be able to carry on some of the projects I’m already doing. As well as developing some new ideas and see them through. This summer, if I am elected, I won’t have to spend it settling in to my new job and how the Student Union works. I already know that so I will be able to just crack on and get loads of stuff done.
JCRs are a pivotal part of Fresher’s week but then seem to fade into the shadows, how will you ensure this doesn’t happen next year?
If they live in halls, they are part of the JCR.
I think JCRs are vital to how the Student Union operates, especially for first years in halls. I think it is about making sure the training, which hopefully will apply to those that have had training this year, to realise that it isn’t just about Fresher’s week it’s about the whole year, it’s about getting people involved in the JCR elections, making sure that everyone knows that if they live in halls, they are part of the JCR. Also making sure people know that the JCR is there to do stuff for them all throughout the year not just in Freshers’. It’s about having the right training and doing lots of events, not just parties but things that will get international students and post-graduates involved as well.
How are you planning to deal with the Performing Arts’ space issues?
There is two different ways of tackling this issue. The first being what we can do now for the current students, which is work out the best way for allocating the space that we do have and also utilising it. They have got three main problems storage, performance and rehearsal space. At the moment the performance space that we have on campus is the Annex and we get some time in the Turner Simms and some in the Nuffield. So I want to make sure that the process for applying for the Annex is OK, at the moment it seems to work all right so just carry that through. I also want to firm up our relationships with the Nuffield and with Turner Simms, formalise the relationship and also see if we can get more out of it, so that’s the performance space in the short term.
Make sure the plan will provide what the students need.
I know that a lot of student groups have struggled with this, especially dance and using the multi-purpose studio. So what we have done this year is get societies to block book the space so they are guaranteed their slot for the whole year, we did that in the beginning of the year in October and so next year we are going to allocate it so that they apply over summer so that by Fresher’s week they all know when their slot is.
Storage space is something that is currently being looked at anyway by Sam (current SUSU president). So that feeds it back into the long-term view, and these issues are all things that we are looking at when we are doing our master plan. We are reviewing this massive space and figuring out the best way to utilise it.
Short-term solutions are just keeping working with the facilities that we have got and make sure that they are OK and allocated properly. The longer term solutions is to work with the President to make sure the plan will provide what the students need.
If you had £1 million and an hour to spend it, what would you spend it on?
This is a difficult question for anyone who is VP Student Engagement because we have six areas. I would say that I would use half of it to support immediate improvements for student groups, in terms of societies and performing arts. So increase the amount of money that is in that economy, by buying lots of equipment and development. With the other half I would put it into developing some of our places and spaces. Making our rooms a bit more comfortable, so make sure the activities room has got mirrors; make sure that we have fold out mirrors and roll out floor. So half towards the groups and half towards the facilities.
Give us your best chat-up line.
‘Have you got a double bed? No? Do you want to make it one?’
So there you have it. Be sure to check the other candidate’s interviews and check out the coverage of the Elections. Whichever candidate you prefer, make sure you vote as you guys and girls are the people it will affect most.