Candidate Interview: Kirby Moore, Union President

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With Candidates for both full-time Sabbatical Roles and Students Leader roles in the midst of campaigning, we interviewed each candidate running for full-time sabbatical roles to find out why they wanted the role and what they planned to do if elected. Lifestyle Editor Tallulah Lyons, interviews Union President Candidate Kirby Moore.

I’m here with Kirby Moore. So you’re running for Union President this year, why are you running for this position?

Speaking honestly, it was only a week ago I thought about it seriously and decided, because, well, it’s my fourth year at Southampton, and before that I wasn’t really interested or engaged with how the Union runs. I’d been completely uninterested with student politics. So, obviously I’m graduating this year, and I’ve been thinking about what happens next, I had a few plans, and I was looking at grad schemes – leadership kind of things, and then someone  just asked me if I was going to run for any position, and they suggested maybe I should and that’s when I started thinking about it. Since then, it’s been a really busy week because, like I say, I’m completely out of the ‘inner SUSU circle’ so I’m not really sure about the key roles of what they do. So it’s been a real learning experience in the past week, and then I’ve realised that, for me, that’s what it’s all about, holding a sabb position. I think they should be open to everyone as there’s still a problem with engagement from students. For me, it was the kind of challenge to go straight for President and go against the full time officers that are reelecting themselves. I’m coming at it from the outsider point of view, someone that wasn’t interested.

I’ve been speaking to as many key people as possible.I spoke with the RAG President, and she was really appreciative of me wanting to meet with her, as apparently no one has met with her. I’ve been talking to society presidents, Winchester, post grad officers and international officers , not knowing who to speak to, speaking to the right people. So, I’ve been speaking to anyone and everyone. That’s how I’ve built up my confidence. But obviously with Alex and Flora, I’m not expecting anything. I just want to give it a go, to prove and to engage other students, to show that you don’t need to be interested in student politics and it shouldn’t be about that. It should be about everyone and all the students feeling able to express themselves and get their ideas forward and see it as a stepping stone into the graduate world.

What experience do you have that makes you fit the role?

The question I’ve been asked before is ‘why straight for President?’ and I think there are other roles that I was kind of interested in, but I think in general, the president role suits me the best because I like to dabble in everything.

So your experience?

I guess employment experience, such as leading. So, I’ve been supervisor and team leader at restaurants and bars. I work in the bar as my current job. I’m a university ambassador, so leading big groups of people. Also, I’ve done quite a few initiative projects at the university and in general life. For example,  I’ve travelled quite a lot, and again that gives me a lot of experience, communicating with people and meeting different types of people. I’ve set up events such as language cafe’s and I was a tour guide in Rome.

Yes, you said in your manifesto you were a ‘self proclaimed one’ what does that mean?

I like to do as much as possible and get as many people as possible involved. So where I’ve spent a lot of time in Rome and abroad, I would always meet tourists and offer to show them a different side of Rome, because I wanted them to take something back from the usual paying tourist trips. I’d take them to hidden parts of the city and clubs in the evening and literally they’d love it. So, that’s the whole ‘self proclaimed thing’. I’ve got a lot of confidence and I’m confident in myself leading people and dabbling in lots of things.

What are the main problems you identify within the remits of the role, and how do you plan to fix them?

Again, I’m coming at it as an outsider, so obviously I’ve spoken with ex-presidents, from the Union here. From their feedback, it all kind of depends on what you’re offering. I’ve spoken with previous sabbs and their problems were because of their own manifesto. I think the role should be and is, what you make it, so I think there isn’t a right way or wrong way. Whoever is in the role should adapt it, as long as you have the core values and the core understandings, such as knowing that you are the leader, that you should be there for everyone in the Union, not just the sabbs team. Actually that’s probably a problem. I guess it’s an overall issue with student politics. The sabbs know a lot of people, but I don’t feel the average student knows them and feel like they can approach them

If you were elected, how would you change that?

My manifesto, my leadership, is all about putting people first. It’s all about getting people involved and bringing people in. It’s about being resourceful and acknowledging all of our different student groups and talents.

You mention that in your manifesto. How do you envision doing that?

The past couple of years have been too much of re-doing things, re branding etc. and now that’s all sorted, we can leave that to one side. Looking around the actual facilities, it’s well overdue, looking at our spaces and time to be creative. For example, if we were to decorate the student building, we could easily get the student groups to volunteer and get involved, I don’t think anyone would say no.

Where would you get the budget to do this?

Well I guess there are hush hush plans about the whole refurbishment of the Union spaces. I know that hasn’t been made public yet, because I actually found out about it through other sources, so I asked the Union facilities people if they could confirm it. A lot of my plans were to do with that, for example, moving into the Piazza. No information has been given to me, no information has been made public, but I know that it is being planned from the small bits of the manifestos that were first published online. Alex put it in his manifesto about the refurbishment. At the minute, students don’t know about what’s in the works. I think, 1. why? and 2. we need to make sure we know it’s happening so we are the ones controlling it. So, that’s where the whole creating the spaces we want to use comes from. For example your media room and the RAG offices.

In your manifesto you talk about creating more study spaces, the outdoor cinema and the juice bar what do you mean by this? Where would you put them?

The outdoor cinema as an idea, is more of a community project. One of my ideas is outreaching to the community. I think we need to work more with councils, local charities. The Juice bar comes from the pop up commercial spaces idea. So, I want us to use our talent, use our progressive thinking, the student and enterprise groups. I think we should encourage more student enterprise. The juice bar could be more permanent. I think it would be very popular as it makes healthier options, or it could just be a pop up one, which again could be part of the road show of events.

Yes, you said in your manifesto you wanted to create a road show of events, how do you plan on implementing this?

Something I want to work on is recognising that we have other campuses, so that’s the hospital, Avenue, Winchester etc. Part of that would be, for example, today we have Volunteer week on the concourse. It’s making those sort of events circulate all the campuses, tailoring them to all the campuses, making the other campuses feel that they are thought about and they’re being offered exactly what we’re being offered on Highfield. We’re hopefully going to open a sexual health clinic as well. I’ll try and make that happen here and mainly Winchester as a big thing. That’s what I mean about the pop up things, they can change, they can be adapted and run and controlled by whichever campus.

You said in your manifesto you wanted to ensure international students remain connected with the Union, create a presence on platforms such as WeChat/WEIBO, internationalise our Union, adding a multilingual, multicultural design, tailor a wellbeing programme to international students, how do you plan to implement this?

I’ve travelled a lot, I have friends from all over the world and know that communication is so key to being all inclusive and creating a good environment. It’s important that we get a better presence on social media, because people from Asia don’t use Facebook, they use their own social network sites. If we want to keep track and stay connected, it’s time to get onto other platforms, to make sure we are outreaching the students. The students don’t use our social networks. Erasmus has a society, so it’s working with them and getting them to use our campus. Now we know about the refurbishments and the redesigning of it, we need to be thinking about the future. There’s a huge problem with students not coming to campus, and not making the most of our facilities and that’s because our facilities aren’t efficiently used. Karaoke is the one night that students proactively engage wit, but there’s not really an international presence. I also think we need to tailor to their well being.

Give us a 30 second closing pitch as to why students should vote for you, Kirby Moore, to be their next Union President?

I am running to bring some kind of creativity, some kind of confidence back into our Union, that it is run and able to be run by any kind of student. You don’t have to be in a certain crowd to have the chance to make change. I think recognising our diversity and working with our student groups is very important and to create a student culture.

Kirby Moore, thank you.

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Third Year English student and Lifestyle Editor 2016/17.

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