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Wessex Scene interview Kiera Spencer-Hayles, who is running for the role of Vice President Sports in the 2020 SUSU Spring Elections.
First of all, Kiera, why have you decided to run for the role of VP Sports?
One thing that really got me to put my name forward is that a lot of people were nominating me, and I believe that’s because of my current role as President of ZumbaSoc, and the amount of charity work I do to try and boost sport participation within the Uni.
What experience do you have that would make you an excellent fit for the role?
As I said, I’m current President of ZumbaSoc, I have been in the society for two years and I’ve seen how smaller sporting societies have been marginalised; I think with the presence I’ve gained over the years, within the sporting community that’s recognised by other larger sport societies, I’d be able to get that community and recognition that we all deserve.
Brilliant. And what are the main problems you currently identify with the role of VP Sports and how would you go about fixing them?
I believe the current problem that we’ve got is the lack of recognition for all our athletes. I know my predecessor has been trying to reach out doing news articles to try and celebrate our athletes, but I want to spread that out more, improve our social media platforms – they are quite lacking – and just encouraging and spreading awareness using our media outlets within the Union.
Okay. So how would you increase participation of students in sports, at casual and elite level?
So, what I want to do is create more opportunities within the fitness to promote those positive benefits – being mental and physical – and the app that I want to start develop will help increase communication between the societies, the players within the societies, those outside societies and just improve the communication skills because I feel that’s mainly what is lacking; because all our sports societies are in their own little bubbles, and we need to get that integrated.
Definitely. And how would you work to improve the University sporting performance?
I feel that being more open with the community, within the University and outside, just to show our sports’ progression, using our media platforms and the big TV screens, just to show and promote what some of our athletes are doing, so any key performances – I know it’s done a lot on Facebook, but I want to be able to push it out to the wider screens around the Uni.
Okay. And one of the biggest concerns with students is the Sports and Wellbeing passes for both societies and individual use are too expensive, how would you tackle that in your role?
I stated in my manifesto, I want to lobby more and better equipment within the facilities, as the equipment that is provided to us should meet the price that we’re paying; so if you look at the new Solent gym, they are paying a cheap price, yet they’ve got I believe eighteen weight racks, and that’s a large concern as we only have five and a lot of the bars are bent; and there’s not enough room, so just making sure the equipment is good, not only in Jubilee and Mayflower but the halls gyms which are quite lacking as well, because that would promote our athletes using other sites.
Definitely. There’s also been a lot of concerns with the behaviour of sports teams this year, specifically with hazing, initiations, accusations of racism; what do you think needs to change, and how would you address these issues in your role?
What was brought in this year was the WIDE training, and I really want to push that as not having just Presidents and Socials Secs take that training, I want all committee members to take that training, and I want to bring in understanding of micro-aggressions, as some people don’t believe that’s racial abuse, or just genderist, sexist, homophobic, to have those indirect, subtle and intentional discrimination addressed and made a bit more understanding. Because it’s a very much lacking area of knowledge, and I feel like that’s where a lot of the underlying causes are in our sports societies.
I agree. And if you were elected, what would be your top three areas of focus?
My top three areas would be the recognition for our athletes, being able to get our athletes in the community within the University and outside the university, and the app is what I mainly want to focus on because that brings in the recognition within the community.
Definitely. And how exactly do you propose to increase participation for LGBTQ+, BAME, and disabled people?
As part of the wide training, my predecessor Olivia and the current VP Welfare & Community have been doing an optional training for how to make your sports club more accessible for LGBTQ+ people, for BAME, for disabled people and I want to make those compulsory within the WIDE training, as I feel being able to get those students involved will tenfold our participation; sports are for everyone, no matter the ability, no matter how people are marginalised, it is for everyone.
I agree. And finally, would you be able to expand on your idea for awards of a point system for societies?
Yes, so the point system will help celebrate our students based on what they do. If they are going above and beyond what is asked of them, so charity events, helping outside (University), doing displays for say, Avenue associations or even dealing with school children, helping them with sports… The point system will be showing how we recognise our athletes, and then that can be transferred into rewards, like our volunteering card, increasing how much discount you get in the Shop, or funds towards a bit of new equipment or towards tours. There are lots of avenues this can go on but it’s really to push our athletes to get outside of this sporting bubble into that wider community.
To find out more about Kiera and her policies, you can read her manifesto here.