As part of the Wessex Scene’s series of interviews, we talked to Rachel Stocky, running for VP Academic Affairs to get an idea of what she is all about.
How do you plan on keeping students update with your manifesto?
There is a combination of things; there are the blogs which not enough people read, so a way to publicise these are needed. I was thinking about the massive screen in SUSU; why not make video blogs with important issues. Also more effective use of social media to integrate it into students lives.
So is there a problem with the way SUSU communicates at the moment?
Not particularly a problem. I just think it’s never perfect, you can always find a way to improve it and in the ‘technology age’ we should be able to progress with communication.
What do you believe the role of VP Academic Affairs to be?
To make sure students are getting the quality from the academic experience that they pay for when they come to university, especially with the fees rises its important to make sure you get as much as you can. We are paying the university for a service and they should be giving us the service we pay for?
How do you plan on representing students and keeping a good relationship with the university?
When you’re VP Academic Affairs you are in meetings with the staff, as I have experienced with my role as faculty officer. When you go into meetings with them you have to work as a team, not opposite sides. Addressing issues and figuring out a realistic solution together need to be willing to negotiate.
How do you plan on ensuring your manifesto can be fulfilled?
I’ve spoken with many different people, worked with international students a lot and sit on union council and hear a lot of student positions at the moment. As faculty officer I have a lot of students behind me and hear a lot of student opinions. I’ve tried to make my manifesto as realistic as possible. You have to put the borderline between things you know that can be done and things that, though it might not get done by the time I’m out; I can set up the building blocks so some things can be put in motion. I haven’t promised we’re taking students to the moon or anything; I’ve broken it down into sections that I think can be improved.
What is your unique selling point that makes you the best candidate for VP Academic Affairs?
I think what I’ve got over the other candidates is that ive got a balance. I think it’s important that VP roles change every year, coming out of being a student at that moment with new enthusiasm and ideas. I’ve been involved with SUSU with union council and staff meetings so I’ve got the insight into knowing how to go into the job full speed ahead. Not knowing exactly what I’m doing but having enough knowledge to know who to approach, who to talk to, how to get in contact with students. I think I can take of at a running pace while still having the student perspective.
You say you want to digitise texts but isn’t that already happening and how can VP Academic Affairs actively hurry that process?
There’s 2 issues with that in that the problems with digitalising texts there are copyright issues so you can’t put a whole book on-line but, if it’s a textbook, you can make sure all of the tutors have notified the library which chapters needs to be up on-line before the course begins. It’s what they should be doing and students find they don’t have access soon enough of tutors change the module halfway or there aren’t enough books then there is a problem. So it’s making sure the tutors are keeping in contact with the right people to make sure its happening
Blank space philosophy is something mentioned in your manifesto, couldn’t sceptics argue it’s just a good way for you to cover your back?
It’s my way of showing I’m prepared. As a faculty officer, I know I keep mentioning it, but there were issues that none of us saw coming and it’s me showing I am more than prepared to be flexible.
Finally, you talk about installing course reps (other than for first years) in summer, is there not a danger they could become disinterested?
I think that most people use the summer to re-invigorate themselves, so I think that people will come back fresh. I know a lot of course reps re-apply so its not like they become demotivated, if they knew they were in and their VP Academic Affairs then they’ll be excited to be part of the process.