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 Hannah Talbot, hoping to win her place as VP Engagement.
What makes you suited to the role and what experience do you have yo back this up?
I’ve been in SUSU long enough to see what needs addressing, so I know a lot about these things. For example, I’ve been a course rep for 3 years and now I’m academic president, working with the education system, so I’ve been working with people within SUSU from my first year at uni. Being a linguist I am a very chatty person, I have no shame in talking and getting feedback from students. I am also an “iChamp” so am working on using social media and tech for learning within the language department. I have also been social sec for Spanish Soc and secretary for street dance society. I love getting involved, love fixing things.
How do you propose to make communications “swifter” within the engagement team and how do you see this benefiting the wider student community?
What they do in education is try to keep to a 48 hour response system, so I want to initiate something like that, so students can feel like they are being listened to. We boast as a university about being there for the student voice, but I think that we need to address that more again. I don’t feel like students are talked to enough by Sabb officers unless you’re friends with one of them. Sometimes people don’t even know who or what the Sabb officers are. I love my social media, I love my presence on it. I think more should be done in terms of social media: twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as a new system called Pathbright which can be linked up to your LinkedIn. I want to make sure people see these things and recognise that it’s easy to do. I also want to make sure that people know that they can get involved in SUSU, they don’t need to have a particular skill or charisma to take part, you only need enthusiasm and drive.
What does “better publicity” for engagement societies involve?
For my campaign I did some research and I went to talk to some student groups in the engagement zone and they said they don’t feel like they’re getting enough publicity and recognition. For example, people don’t know that there is a UNICEFsoc and and RSPCAsoc because it’s not publicised enough. RAG does amazingly, but I’ve had some feedback that they’re not happy with the current system as it is either. They raise all this money and don’t take any of it for themselves. I’d like them to be recognised for that, because that is an amazing achievement. They have a group teaching robotics in schools, so it’s just making people aware that there are some amazing projects that they can work on, and again that’s all done through social media.
How exactly do you plan on strengthening the bond between students and locals?
Well I’ve already been in communications with residents associations and I’ll be going to one of their meetings soon which I’m super excited about. The thing we don’t realise as students is that the locals, our neighbours, do want to get to know us, even if we are only here for a short amount of time. I don’t know if you heard about the street party that was on Gordon Avenue last summer? Basically they held a street party organised by Ellie (the current VP engagement) and the residents association on Gordon Avenue, where the road was shut off and they had a hash tag going, which someone from the council saw and came along too! I’d like to do something along these lines. Clare Gilbert when she was in this position also worked on this, but I think there’s more to be done.
What are you planning to achieve by networking various societies?
My point with this was that socials are all well and good, but not everyone wants to go and get drunk, and it’s sometimes hard for new members to come into a group mid way through the year, it can be hard to walk into a club by yourself. So my idea with networking is that it would be a good chance for people who don’t necessarily want to drink, but want to get involved, they can come and network. Maybe mix in some local employers as well if the students demand it, to get that experience and advice. So it’s a chilled networking session, not so intense. It would also give societies the chance to work together and develop collaborations.
What sets you apart from the other candidate, why should people vote for you?
I could be really mean, but I’m terrible at lying and I don’t like being mean about people! Essentially, I’ve shown from my track record that I will listen to feedback and I will work on it. I have shown that I have a lot of enthusiasm. I was nominated for the role of iChamp because of my enthusiasm and my love of social media and tech – it wasn’t a job I applied for. I’ve had to talk to lots of different groups of people and I genuinely want to make a difference in the student union. My manifesto is about building something up again, more than working on small business things. Yes, SUSU is a business, but at the end of the day, but I think there are some things that need to be returned to and some things that need building up again. You will see more of my social media stuff soon, I have creative ideas, I’ll happily listen to people and I will develop the ideas and I will see them through!