Interview conducted by Niamh Mc Govern, news editor, @mcgovern_niamh
Your manifesto has a significant emphasis on volunteering. Will this include new volunteering opportunities for students?
My plan would be to create new opportunities and events that are more wide ranging, alongside volunteering events this year. I think if we can diversify, yes, we should add new opportunities, but I actually think there is a lot of volunteering opportunities that aren’t being currently subscribed to. I think we should try to make the volunteering opportunities that are there more widely available. A lot of students aren’t aware of what’s available to them. Only 50% of students volunteer, which is obviously good, but I think there needs to be more. My focus will be on those opportunities that aren’t currently being promoted properly, and anything else that diversifies this is definitely good.
You pledged to raise funds for projects in the SU, is there anything in particular that you want to invest in?
Yes, I mentioned a planned ‘Culture Day.’ I’ve been involved in the International Buddy Scheme for a few years, and I’ve met a lot of interesting people with different areas of expertise and talent, who talk about their various cultures. This is the main project I want to focus on, while taking on board extra student ideas; people on the community, equality and diversity committees come up with great ideas that aren’t taken forward, I want to take students on board with other projects.
On the topic of culture, you pledged to support students who come into difficulty with the university on residential issues. Should the SU become more involved with this problem?
I would say there is a minority of students who bring an issue to residents in the area, and the issue is wrongly associated with particular residential areas. I think the university took over this issue incorrectly, and don’t think it’s a university issue to get involved with, perhaps even illegal, for such a small segment of Queen’s students. Based on the statistics, Queen’s only owns around 1/3 of the population in problem areas, and this is an issue I wanted to tackle in my manifesto. I think it is a minority and gets blown out of proportion for students, and holidays can get ruined by outside agents who bring Queen’s reputation down.
As VP Community, how would you encourage students to bring these sensitive issues to you, and utilise the services available to them?
I’m quite a personal person, and I do have very good student engagement, this year the RAG has shown that. The most personal role I have
taken to date, for Marie Curie, quite often involved very emotional experiences with people affected by personal issues. I would say I’ve always dealt with this well. By being known, and getting involved with all aspects of the Student Union, I can encourage all students to come to the office, and create co operations other sabbatical offices. The Student Union and Student Guidance Centre have great initiative to deal with these issues as well.
How do you, and your manifesto stand out from the other candidates, for such a highly coveted role this year?
Well, I would say – have you seen my posters? I’ve tried to be creative, I would say a lot of the Community role is about creativity, and coming up with creative initiatives. While it’s had good progress this year, budget constraints have held back projects. RAG is a creative institution, and I think my campaign shows how creative I would try to be in the role, coming up with new angles for funds. So I’d say I stand out from a creative point of view. I also stand out, because of the nature of the role. One of Community’s mandated roles is to be involved with RAG – in lots of years, this hasn’t happened. I feel none of the other candidates can tap into this element of RAG involvement, which a Community officer is consciously mandated to do.