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Wessex Scene were able to interview Harry Bull about their campaign to be the next Union President.
Harry elected to answer these questions during an interview.
Why did you apply for the role of Union President?
I’ve been on the Union Senate for two years now and I really enjoyed the role that I had on the Senate, so I thought that, as I am graduating this year, I could do another year and help students out by running in the election.
If you were elected, what would be your top three areas of focus?
Making SUSU the focal point of student life so that everyone could know the services that SUSU could offer them. I think a lot of that boils down to how well SUSU communicates with students because I think that there is an issue with how sometimes things get lost, things aren’t emailed properly, so a lot of my points are about making sure students get that information more easily.
My second point would be changing the conversation on safety. A focus on making sure that services, like the safety bus, testing kits, anti-spiking lids for drinks, are available for students all year round. Also, conversations about sexual harassment, sexual assault. Making sure we have conversations about that and call out people using euphemisms (talking to victims or about victims in a derogatory manner).
Finally, making sure the university is more transparent. Especially in terms of January exams, the University Executive Board meetings aren’t public – you can find out information about them but you have to go looking for it. Also, the University Senate and University Council meeting minutes are over a year old, so they obviously need to keep those up-to-date so that students can see what’s going on. Students can see the University’s decisions and their reasons behind them.
What’s something that SUSU provides that you like, and what is something that you would seek to alter?
The safety bus service, I am biased because I do drive the safety bus once a week, but I think this service is great but the only problem is that it’s not very well publicised. I think people only learn about it through word of mouth, where one email and everyone would learn about it, so that’s something to improve.
I think there’s a big culture of it [SUSU] not being an effective body for students and that’s mainly because of communication not being clear. For example, if they had a system which was a bunch of tick boxes and you had to tick for jobs from SUSU, or an update from the President or the SABBs, or anything like that and people could get specific targeted emails to their inbox as opposed to being overloaded with information or not getting any at all.
What do you think are the main problems with the current role of Union President, and how would you propose fixing them?
So underneath the role, you have the Sustainability Officer, Halls Officer, AU Officer, UHS Officer and the Trustees, and I think one of the main issues I’ve come across when talking to students is that, while we do cater to some campuses like Avenue and the University Hospital, some other campuses, like the NOCS and Winchester, feel left out, and I think the Union President is in the position to highlight this and be a champion for these people as they often don’t feel associated enough with the uni.
What reassurances can you give students about the importance of their voices?
I think the failure with the January exams has shown that unless students are able to see the decisions behind the university and the reasons behind those decisions, their voice is going to be minimalised. If I was elected, in my term in office I would fix that and make sure that students’ voices are not only heard but that they have the reasoning behind to make their voices heard.
One of the key points of your manifesto is your passion about your conversation on safety. Are you able to go into detail about that?
I think the conversation started with someone I lived with last year and they now work for a food bank. Obviously, the conversation there is that food banks are terrible, they shouldn’t exist because people shouldn’t have to be in that position and I think the same goes for the safety bus etc. They shouldn’t need to exist, but it’s good that the services are there as it’s such a prolific problem. I suppose really that it’s a bigger question for society as a whole to go through, but within a university setting, the most we can do is make sure these services are available and also make sure that things, like the mandatory consent training and training about civility and respecting other people, is something that the university and SUSU work on and offer every student so that they are able to have a better understanding of what is expected of them as a citizen.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
I think that any other thing I would add is, through the questions that I’ve been asked by students, that something the Union President should be doing more about is sustainability. I think it’s really important that we’re making sure that all the facilities are as eco-friendly as possible, that we’re reducing the use of utilities like electricity and gas etc and water waste, which I think is a big issue that the university has identified as a problem but they’re not really working fast enough to act on. I think that’s somewhere the Union President could be in a position to really push the university to work on that quicker. Within SUSU itself, for example, changing plastic containers to PVA cups that are biodegradable. Small changes like that, I think, are really important for pushing on sustainability.