Candidate Interview: Tori Watson, VP Community

Interview conducted by Niamh Mc Govern, news editor, @mcgovern_niamh

Tori photoSo you’ve advocated for “dog petting and bubble wrap popping”, but under the surface, how important is student relaxation?

So important. It becomes particularly crucial around exam time. It’s important for students to get out of the library, and for me personally the library canteen just isn’t big enough and doesn’t let me completely relax. I want to create a safe space, where students are transported across to the Space and clear their minds. They have dog petting in Leicester, and there are studies that show this activity can calm you, it’s beneficial for rescue dogs and beneficial for students. In terms of the bubble popping, everyone loves it and to be honest, it is a stress reliever! It’s key we make sure mental health is monitored at these key times, like the exam period.

Is there demand for a campaign like ‘Dock and Lock’ from; does the university have a responsibility to keep campus environmentally efficient?

It’s a bit of both. I personally cycle in quite a lot to university, as do many students. Sometimes I find there simply aren’t enough docks waiting for me. Also, there aren’t any lockers for cyclers to use. Bringing in helmets – and we want students to wear helmets – can be cumbersome and we don’t want students to have the hassle of carrying these all day. Great for student cyclists, and great for students who have thirty books to carry around. I imagine this working similarly to the PEC system, no costs to students but a vital necessity. In terms of expanding the Belfast Public Bike Scheme, I don’t see why our city can’t allow students to use this facility, and why there shouldn’t be a dock up at Elms, or on the Lisburn Road. It’s very clear not a lot of students have a car at their disposal, especially when doing a weekly shop!

In terms of ‘shoutout’, do you feel the radio needs to be diversified, for students at home, or studying off campus?

Completely. Queen’s Radio are trying to become more professional, and lobbying to broadcast in the SU shop. If the radio was played in Elms, in the MBC, in the SU, the radio itself would be forced to diversify even further. On similar terms, community radio Blast found that listeners wanted 90% of music; Q Radio needs to push surveys like this and also establish a community show. Through my 6 month experience at the radio, I’ve found that people have been knocking down my door with opportunities they want on air. Why aren’t we
showcasing this? It’s a diversity of events that need radio support.

How would you encourage students to utilise these new campaigns and services?

I think I’m a pretty open person, and easy to work with. I understand issues like noise complaints are within the Community role, but there needs to be a balance, listening to both sides of the picture; it’s not a one way street. We need to demonstrate to
residents that student give to the community. I would encourage people to knock down my door constantly, if elected. That’s what I’m there for, and I need to know how I can help you.

What can you exclusively offer as VP Community?

Community stuck out for me as one of the roles that faced cuts by the SU this year, I feel this is the year for the role to prove itself and its necessity. I think the best thing I can offer something is something a bit different, and a bit wacky. Looking at the wider sphere and giving people a passion and a drive for their community.

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