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- VP Engagement Candidate Interview with Miles Jordan
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Wessex Scene has interviewed Miles Jordan, who is running for the position of VP Engagement in the 2018 Union Spring Elections.
Why have you decided to run for the role of VP Engagement?
I think it’s really important that students feel like they are part of a community when they’re at university. I know, personally, when I started in first year I really didn’t feel very, for lack of a better term, engaged in my Halls. I didn’t join any societies and I didn’t have the whole university life thing sold to me. That’s something that VP Engagement is very well positioned to do.
What kind of tactics of engagement would you use to approach different students, especially those who are International and Postgrads?
I gave this a lot of thought, because I personally do like going out and so initially I thought to organise some more nights out. However, the more you think about, the more you realise it’s not for everyone. I know that they organise Postgrad coffee mornings and that sort of stuff so I was thinking of pushing that a bit more and creating more of a Postgrad community going hopefully. Also, I play board games, so I would want to try to organise some board game nights. I don’t feel like there is an option to do that a lot of the time and it is all very divided. So whatever you want to do, you’re welcome to do it. At the end of the day, I’m just here to help people do what they want to do. If they want to meet new people, I want to help them do that. If they want to sit in their room, then I want to make that as comfortable as possible for them!
In your statement you say you want to culminate all students and that you’ve had personal experiences that have flagged up certain issues for you. What would you say is the main problem you’ve identified? How do you aim to fix the problem?
I think, it is obviously a high-profile problem, but student’s mental health in particular, is something that I am incredibly passionate about and something that I really believe that engagement could play a role in. I know that societies and sports teams have a big role to play in letting people feel like they belong but it is so beneficial if people feel like they are part of a community. We are all paying a lot of money to be here so we want to be able to enjoy ourselves. It needs to be worth our time, both academically and socially. The charity work that SUSU and Engagement are involved in is something that I would really push too. I know there is involvement with RAG in this role so I would want to make sure that people feel able to join different societies, teams, clubs and take part in fundraising. I want to make people feel like they are able to do whatever they want to throughout the whole year.
What experience do you have that would make you a good fit for the role?
I’ve been very clear on my personal statement that I haven’t been involved with RAG during my time at university but I think that, if anything, this gives me an advantage because RAG has its own committee and it fundraises in its own way. They are well positioned to continue on and do their job successfully and I believe that coming in from a different angle, totally outside of SUSU, I could bring something different – for lack of a better term, I would be a ‘breath of fresh air’, such a cliché! I’ve done charity work in the past, and when I was younger, I fundraised to do a World Challenge trip. I have also raised over £1,000 in September by shaving off all of my hair, which I did for Grass Roots, a suicide prevention charity. It is very important to me personally having dealt with some of those issues but also Brighton is where I’m from and it has a suicide rate higher than the national average so that’s some of the fundraising that I have done and that I am passionate about.
What would you say are your three most important points?
I would really want to get students involved in societies, teams, university life because that can have every kind of benefit. It can help academically, socially, and help their mental health. That’s a big one that I think could help with the second point: mental health and pushing the awareness. We have such a great system with the Freshers reps and having someone from Enabling Services to come in and give the Fresher reps an hour training, and just letting them know what is available so they don’t feel like they have nowhere to turn would be brilliant. My third one would be to get sports teams and societies to commit to doing one fundraising charity event a year. I know the Vixens, for example, do bag packing for charity and these clubs are doing good work. The more they get involved, the better. This will benefit the reputation of students in the local community so we can remove the stigma of students being a bit of a pain in the arse.
What training would you actually want Freshers reps to have and how would you provide it?
Freshers reps already undergo a lot of training. I was a rep in second year and we do have, for example, sensibility training. In terms of mental health, I would want to have someone from Enabling Services come in and talk to the Freshers reps, because they are the biggest single organisation that deals with mental health on campus. Simply to say that if you see a nervous Fresher, just talk to them. I don’t want Freshers reps to go around and offer mental health advice because that could be disastrous but just providing information. I was totally unaware of all the services that the university provided when I first started and I think that students would benefit from knowing that, across the board.
In terms of promoting societies, what kind of promotional material will you actually use and how interactive would they be?
Obviously, we have the Bunfight which is great for getting people involved but what I’d like to see, maybe monthly, is people from sports teams and societies coming onto campus somewhere and promoting their societies. For example, if you wanted to join Rugby, without walking to Wide Lane completely alone, some people would want to find out more about the club first and have a face-to-face meeting and get more information. All the clubs in Southampton are really good but making sure that they are known as inclusive is half the battle, that would be brilliant. Also using different media formats, Facebook events and everything, would be helpful. I would like all societies to be accessible on campus at least once a month for a face-to-face meeting with potential joiners.
How will you make sure that students know that they can actually come to you?
I want to make sure that I am very clear on this and I am trying to stress this on the campaign. There are so many services available and obviously I would love for people to vote for me and have me there and be able to work actively for a whole year to improve this. However, it’s also totally a case of talking to Freshers reps, getting it on social media and getting Southampton Union involved. Make sure people know about it because physical media is better to do than online. I can see online media and not even register it, but if you see it in real life it is more pertinent and hits a lot harder and makes a bigger impact on you.
To find out more about Miles Jordan and what he wants to achieve in a year as VP Engagement, read his personal statement here.