In the run up to the 2015 SUSU election, the Wessex Scene team have been interviewing the candidates running for sabbatical positions. Here, we interview Jenny Bortoluzzi, hoping to win her place as VP Engagement.
What makes you suited for this role as VP Engagement?
I have been involved with the engagement zone a lot since the start of my time at uni. So I got involved as JCR RAG officer for Bencraft in my first year and went on to join the RAG committee as the Collections Officer and now I am RAG President. So I’ve got a lot of experience with RAG but through RAG I have also collaborated with a lot of the other areas of the engagement zone, including enterprise and we’ve worked with Enactus. We’ve worked with Fish on Toast in the past and the Enterprise Officer obviously and we’re looking to work with them on the Big Give which is coming up. We also do a lot with Southampton Hub, which is the main volunteering body obviously. Apart from that, through my role I have also had to do a lot of communication and I’ve seen where the problems come up and where the obstacles are.
Can you give us an example of when you completed an aim or project?
Obviously with RAG I ran in the elections last year to be RAG President and since then there has been a lot of my manifesto points from last year which I have worked towards. So improving collaboration with other charity societies to help communicate more about their events so that we can provide the help that we are supposed to. So we’ve done a lot of work on that. There is still a lot to do but I think that’s definitely one aim which I have worked towards.
So you mentioned collaboration there and you said in your manifesto that you want to gain resources through collaborating more with the University for certain things. What kind of resources you were looking for and what that would entail?
The uni has a lot of experienced staff with a lot of knowledge and they have the communications tools and they have a crowd funding platform and all of that. If we collaborate more and communicate about the options the Uni are giving us there is a lot of funding like the crowd funding one, for example, not as many people know about it. Whereas it’s really useful to societies and some of our societies have already used them. So it’s like if we were able to communicate more with university and get key staff that have the experience then we can help our societies or members of our committees to get 1-1 or training from those people because they have that knowledge and experience.
Another point that stood out was that you mention a dog-walking/pet-sitting scheme. What would the purpose of that be?
Part of the engagement role is improving relationships with the local community and the local residents. It sounds really stupid – a pet-sitting/dog-walking scheme – but a lot of students at uni miss their pets and a lot of them actually go home to see their pets and are more excited about seeing their pets than their parents. Local residents, if they are at work all day, sometimes may not have time to walk their dogs or if they are going away for the weekend, they have to leave their animals. I feel like students could provide that extra service that would help the local residents and improve our relationships with them.
Leading on from that, how are you going to get students involved with all the schemes that you are planning to start?
First of all it will be finding the way into the local community. So getting the residents interested in doing it. So we did last year – I don’t know if it’s being done this year but last year there was a sort of newsletter that we going round to all the local residents and we put ads in that. If we launch that again we can put ads in that. And we can put ads in big supermarkets like ASDA. Then they can contact us and then it’s all about finding the way of advertising it to students. So obviously there is a lot of work to be done on this website but if we can we’ll have a dedicated space for ads on the home page. And Becky this year is looking into creating a job agency for students and that would be somewhere we could advertise it as well. It’s volunteering as well so we can advertise it through volunteering.
You have quite a lot of aims so how are you going to prioritise them?
I have a lot of aims but I think compared to previous years I’ve got fewer than other candidates. I’ve sorted them under categories and there’s some big ones in each category which will take longer to work on whereas others can be done on an everyday basis. I am really determined to keep my promises in my manifesto. It is all about organisation really. I’ve been so busy this year so I’ve been pushed to organise myself more so I think that will help me.
Ok so our last question is what sets you apart from the other candidates? Why should people vote for you?
I think that I have got the experience in the zone. I have definitely got the knowledge and the experience on the engagement zone. Apart from that, as I said, I have been really organised this year. And I have got the passion for it. It is something that I really want to do. I decided last year that I wanted to run so it’s something I have been thinking about for a long time. I have been in contact and worked with the previous two Engagement Sabbs and other Sabbs so I have had an insight and I know what I would do differently.