Wessex Scene interviews VP Communities candidate, Harvey Rickatson, for the upcoming 2018 Spring Union Elections.
Why have you decided to run for the role of VP Communities?
I did it mainly because, as I said in my personal statement, I’ve had the best 3 years at university but I know that everybody’s experience is going to be completely different whether that’s because of the societies they’re part of, their background for example, or if they’re a parent or mature student.
I guess my reason for running for student communities is because I want everyone to feel like they can have the best experience at university, and I don’t feel like their background should put them at a disadvantage. For example, if they’re a parent and they have a child then I don’t want that to be something that stops them from having a good time at university. I want to do things that make university less of a burden and more something that helps to take the stress out of things. If you’re an international student, then maybe you’re not entirely in tune with the culture and maybe you feel a little disenfranchised or, if you’re a mature student, you’re around a lot of people who are a lot younger than you. I want to help people to feel like they’re on an even playing field in terms of how much they can get involved with and how much they feel able just to be themselves and do what they want.
How would you integrate societies better with not just the Students’ Union, but each other?
One of my main policies is to do more collaborative projects with other Sabbatical officers because I think that there’s so much more potential for student unification across all communities and societies as well using things like sports and charities. I feel like in this role I would be a mediator for people. One of the things on my personal statement is the #susustandswith campaign; we are all different but all part of the same students’ union. Obviously because there are so many students it’s hard to get everybody together in the same room, but one of the things I want to do is I guess just make that happen.
What are the main issues with this role currently and how would you tackle them?
For starters, I really admire Aaron for everything he’s done this year in terms of things such as the videos he’s put on the website explaining different festivals that are celebrating, for example, different religions, and inviting people to come along and join in. It’s not necessarily ‘problems’ that I see from this year it’s more things that I think that can be built on and developed more.
There are obviously so many different campuses in Southampton and a lot of students aren’t really aware of them; a lot of students I asked didn’t know what Boldrewood was, they just thought I was saying a random Harry Potter word or something. One of my policies was to make sure none of the campuses are left out of the loop and that they all receive the same attention from the union. In freshers week when a lot of the Sabbatical officers have gone to the different campuses to chat to people and let them know they are here. I would like to do that on a more regular basis. There are so many different ways we can improve throughout the year to let students know what’s going on at the different campuses such as through social media.
What relevant experience do you have?
I’d say that on of the reasons I am running for this job is, although I wouldn’t necessarily say I have the best experience, but I am someone who really wants to learn, and so I’d say that I have a really good mindset and work ethic for it. I know that there are many different communities that I have no idea about because I’m not of a certain age, or a parent, or an international student. To a lot of people that might make me seem unqualified, but I like to think that I am a very understanding person, and one of the things I’d like to be in office, if I do get elected, is a very ‘feet on the ground’ person. I want to go out and I want to talk to people instead of just being sat in an office responding to emails where nobody will see me. I want to be out there at the nursey, at all of the different campuses asking people how they are doing and if there is anything we can do to make their experience better. Obviously, things change, and people might not be in the same position they were in at the start of the year. I want to make life as easy as possible, and also fun and enjoyable.
What would be your three most important objectives for the upcoming year?
To completely bridge the gap between all campuses not just in terms of social media coverage but also in terms of events to just make sure there is always something going on and always something people can get involved with.
I want to make sure that all of these communities that come under my remit have regular events, so they know that not only are there so many different things within the union they can already get involved with but also they know that there are events put on specifically for them with the purpose of getting people to talk to each other and to make friends with people in similar positions so that people feel less isolated. There are a lot of exciting opportunities there.
Lastly, I’d just say that I’d like to make sure that every community knows that whatever concerns of criticisms they have they know they will be given a platform from which they can vocalise whatever they are unhappy with in a way they know that we are listening to them and I am listening to them. Obviously not every problem is solvable, but it’s important that they know that any issues have our attention and we are doing what we can.
You mentioned a reorganisation of the way the Sabbatical team uses its social media presence. How would this differ from the way it is currently used?
I wouldn’t say different, I’d say improved. What has been done so far is great but we just need more of it in more places. So when it comes to things like culture fest, or when Aaron put something on for the festival of light, not only will more events like this be put on but they will also be covered via social media. I guess when people think of the union snapchat for this academic year, not that it’s a bad thing, but a lot of it has been nights out. That’s great and that’s definitely a big part of university, but there are also things like when we do go to different campuses and talk about, for example, expectage bets, that was a really amazing campaign that happened this year. I’d like to cover more things like that on social media so people know where we are, what we are talking about and that they can come to us and talk to us. That comes under welfare as well, but I guess it ties into my aims to do more things with other Sabbatical officers and helping each other to get out there.
How would you collaborate more with other Sabbatical officers?
I think, for the most part, campaigning. At the start of the year when Sam and Dan were everywhere talking about ‘expect respect’ and when Steve was going everywhere for Varsity, I think there is so much potential to have more of that. My thinking is that when students see Sabbatical officers working together it will give them more of an inclination to get involved as well. Going back to the point about social media, more coverage is something I would like to encourage throughout the Sabbatical office as well. It would be amazing to see all the different Sabbatical officers coming together and being seen on the different campuses explaining, for example, Pride and black history month, and spreading these messages. It puts forward a much more unified image. It not only shows that we are a unified Sabbatical office but it also shows students of all communities that ‘we’re here for you; you elected us and we are here to make sure that you feel safe, that you feel welcomed and that you have a good time.
To find out more about what Harvey Rickatson would do as VP Communities & Volunteering, read his personal statement here.