- 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 sabbatical officers of the last year. Here, I interview Sam Bailey, the current VP Welfare.
What is your achievement you’re most proud of this year in your role?
Ooh that’s a tough question. So I think the thing I’m most proud of is the You Are More Than campaign that I’ve been working on with Shruti and the education zone. We took the Stress Less fest from last year, that was really really popular – all those things like the petting zoo, all those craft things – and taken it out to different sites and groups who wouldn’t ordinary get it. This year we ran events at the NOC, at Winchester, at Avenue, at Bolderwood, at SGH and on Highfield.The attendance at the petting zoo was amazing, 1, 555 students. When we got 900 last year in January, so it’s amazing what we’ve done. I’m really really proud of that. What we need to do now is work on that and do it bigger and better in June, because we are here to support you, wherever you study and whatever you study.
What are the main challenges you have faced during your time as VP Welfare?
One of the things about the Welfare role is it’s incredibly broad. We’ve got two zones, Sustainability Zone, which looks at ethics, environment and equality, as well as students’ employability. Then we have the Student Life Zone, things like housing, mental health, physical health, financial health, all that kinda stuff. These are all really important things that we need to be campaigning on, we need to be raising students’ awareness of, we need to be supporting students on. But unfortunately there’s only 24 hours in a day and I get really frustrated when we can’t do everything; we can’t make everyone’s ideas happen. But it’s a really interesting role, challenging and I’ve had great fun. But yeah, I wish there’s was however many hours in a day so I could do so much more.
Which aspect of student welfare would you say you’ve improved the most so far?
So we’ve recently completely relaunched our housing pages on the website, before it was this odd jumble but now it has a step by step guide to finding a house and loads of good resources and links to other places. So from the very first thing, “what should I be looking for?”, you can follow it through and find out. Hopefully that was useful for freshers living in halls looking for houses this January. But also it should come in handy over the summer for freshers who don’t get into halls, who are having to find private rented accommodation who have never experienced Southampton before. They don’t even know the different areas, they don’t know what Portswood is like, what Highfield is like. They can go on to the website and find all the information they need. Hopefully it’ll be really helpful. I’ve worked with Louise, the housing officer on that and that’s been great, but there’s always tweaks and improvements we’re making to that
How successful do you feel the You Are More Than campaign has been, and how would you like to see it develop in the future?
I’m really really pleased with how it’s gone, considering it was a completely new fresh approach. The way I’d like to see it going in the future is doing more on these different sites, building up. So what we did was work with the different student groups who were based at those sites, so we asked MedSoc and the MedSoc faculty officer when do you need support, what kind of support can we do. We worked with the Winchester campus president, we worked with the newly elected PGR committee for post grads. And the post grad events we did were really exciting, so I think that in future, not just on the You Are More Than project, but for a lot more projects I want to target these events and activities at different groups, who wouldn’t ordinarily get involved, we wouldn’t ordinarily benefit from this stuff that we’re doing. For example post grads; we had some brilliant discussions at the Researchers’ Cafe and at the session discussing the imposter syndrome. I’d never heard of it before, I learnt so much, and it was really great to discus with post grads about how that made them feel about their research and how they can help themselves deal with it.
Speaking of the You Are More Than campaign, the petting zoo attracted some negative attention this year. How do you feel about the controversy now, and how can SUSU move forward from this?
I think every year it’s quite an emotive issue, animals rights is something we should all be caring about. But I think we do need to keep it in perspective. The vocal minority who are complaining about it, we’ll always listen to them. Every student’s views are important. But one thousand, five hundred students came along, we got brilliant feedback from them and it really helped them and their friends to take a few minutes out and enjoy some time in the day, whereas otherwise they’d have been stuck in the library revising.
So I think, absolutely, if you’ve got comments, if you’ve got suggestions, if you want to see something done differently in the future, please please please get in touch. You can email me, you can come and talk to be in the Sabb office, you can submit something through You Make Change on the SUSU website. It would be really good to get people’s feedback. There’s not much we can do with a few comments on a Facebook event, but if you come with ideas and suggestions, we can do something.
I think, as I said at the time, it’s a good local family run farm who do this, so they’re the best people to talk to about the animal’s welfare. In the summer, I fully plan to do this again and even more cool stuff. We’re looking at how we can get student parents more involved, we saw lots of student parents coming along to the petting zoo at the end of the day with their children. So we’re thinking, could we perhaps have a student parent hour, where they can bring their children along and enjoy that.
What is one thing you didn’t achieve this year that you would like to see the next year’s VP Welfare candidates continue with?
With four and a half months left, there’s still a lot we can do, and a lot of that will be putting in place plans that will happen next year. So I’d like to talk about one of those things actually. We’re working with halls committees at the moment, as well as different societies and welfare officers, to look at how we can best support freshers and keep you safe over those first two weeks at university. Obviously you want to go out and explore, you want to try new things. Loads of people go clubbing and that sort of stuff, but lots of people put themselves in danger with things like alcohol, drugs, drink spiking and just general safety on night’s out. We don’t want to be the Nanny state, we’re not going to stop people having fun. We want to give you the information you need to make sensible choices and keep yourselves safe. So what I want to do with that is to make sure everyone has a safe and good time out, we want everyone to have a time out that they will enjoy and remember for the rest of their lives. So that’s something I’ll be handing over to whoever wins the VP Welfare contest, and it’ll be exciting to see what plans they have and how that can link in.