In the run up to the 2015 SUSU elections, the Wessex Scene team have been interviewing the candidates running for key university positions. Here, I interview Flora Noble and Dan Varley, both hoping to win their place as JCR Officer.
Why did you run for JCR Officer?
Dan: I really enjoyed being JCR President of Liberty Point last year and I feel more than qualified for the job. I also wanted to build on the great work Frankie has been doing this year!
Flora: I ran for JCR Officer because I knew that after freshers 2014 that my time with JCR’s was far from done. I loved being President of Glen Eyre, but felt that I could not always do what I really wanted to do, or I just did not have the time! The year flew by, and by December I knew I was ready to take on the role! I’d love the chance to make the experience for this year’s JCR’s even better than mine, and make changes to the way they operate in order to help freshers, JCR’s and reps have as much fun as possible!
What do you hope to have achieved during your time as JCR Officer? Can you name one specific goal?
Dan: I really just want to make things easier for the JCR committees, especially with things like the budget. I remember last year the whole system was quite confusing and I would quite like to simplify it.
Flora: I would love to have set a precedent for future JCR’s and JCR Officers to follow in future years. I know this sounds a bit vague, but to leave the role having created a format for JCR’s to follow when it comes to events planning, helping with residents’ issues and contacting SUSU would be the ultimate achievement for me. Also, it would be amazing to have a great response to Freshers and for it to go down as one of the best in Southampton’s history!
How do you plan to unite JCR committees?
Dan: I’d like to make sure committee meetings are regular as that was not always the case last year. I really want to work with the smaller halls so that they work together to have sports teams and events that rival the sizes of the bigger halls.
Flora: I plan to unite JCR committees by having compulsory, monthly JCR committee meetings, meaning that at the very least every JCR president will know each other! Also, I will organise informal meet ups meaning that JCRs can get to know each other on a casual basis, strengthening bonds so that they’re there to support each other.
Will you maintain the friendly rivalry between certain halls? For example, between Monte and Connaught?
Dan: Of course! I think rivalries like that can really add to the experience of your time as a fresher and it would not be my place to break tradition like that! Competition can be a real drive to make events better and I’d like to work on that.
Flora: Of course! The rivalry between halls this year created an atmosphere during freshers that was fun, and definitely made events more exciting! Obviously it can go too far, and I would make sure that the rivalry remains friendly, maybe even stretching to having a Glen Eyre Road or Wessex Lane Derby!
Do you have any social event ideas that are somewhat out-of-the-ordinary?
Dan: I’m a sucker for great fancy dress ideas and I will be challenging the JCR’s to come up with the best plans. If I were to be elected into this position, I would emphasize communication between past freshers and current JCR committees so that the JCR’s can understand what events are really popular and successful!
Flora: I would be keen on the idea of having a food tasting night, where we get chefs and businesses from in and around Southampton to let students sample many different and exotic cuisines! I stand by the fact that food is the way to a student’s heart, and is guaranteed to create conversation and friendships!
How do you hope to engage with Freshers who are keen to avoid alcohol-infused events?
Dan: I thought the ideas introduced in this years Fresher’s Festival was great, but personally, I think the festival needed a bit more work. I would make sure that the JCR’s are heavily involved in the planning for this years ‘easy-going masterpass’. I also want to introduce regular drop in sessions where the Presidents and other committee members spend time in the social spaces of halls so any residents can come and talk to them. I think this relaxed atmosphere will be prefect for those who aren’t so keen on the alcohol based events.
Flora: I would make sure each halls has a good range non-alcoholic events that are every bit as exciting as more traditional freshers events! Also, I would emphasise that just because there is alcohol at certain events, it does not exclude anyone who does not want to drink – everyone makes their own decisions on a night out, and not drinking should not detract from your freshers experience!
How do you plan to handle ‘sharking’?
Dan: I know this is an issue that can really worry some people and it is quite a hard one to tackle. We had great training on it this year before freshers week, so I would like to repeat that. I would also like to make myself and the JCR committees more accessible to freshers so that they feel like they can come to us with any problems, including ‘sharking’. I would put the Welfare Officer of each JCR in contact with VP for Welfare and their team in order to facilitate more in-depth training.
Flora: The issue of sharking is noticeable over Freshers. Any situation in which a rep or JCR member is acting in a way that makes someone feel pressured into doing something or uncomfortable will be dealt with in a firm yet fair way. If claims are found to be true, the person in question will be suspended from their role pending an investigation. However, consensual encounters between people are inevitable, and I will ensure that everyone is aware that they can report incidents anonymously to SUSU and that they will be dealt with. Reps will also be made aware of the pastoral role that they hold, and that the welfare of students is paramount.