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Surrey Decides 2020 - Voice, Community and Union and RAG Chair Candidates By Pete Ferguson and Megan d'Ardenne

All candidates were offered the chance to send a statement and photo to The Stag to help share their ideas and policies. Unfortunately not all candidates chose to submit a statement before the deadline but all candidates manifestos can be seen here

VP Voice Candidates:

Theo Donnelly

Dear Students of Surrey, my name is Theo and I am running to be your next VP Voice. I am the current Union Chair and am very excited at the opportunity to go full time and throw all my energy into working for students.

I have three main policy branches. Firstly, representing your academic interests, I want to create a closer working relationship between course reps and academic societies. This has been very successful at other universities as it allows for the course reps to be more supported as well as giving them easy access to students to gather information from and feedback results. I also will fight for your feedback to be taken more seriously, despite the university often asking for our feedback it is rare that significant changes are actually made in an academic setting. I want this to change.

Secondly, a more accessible learning environment for all. This would include looking at digital aspects such as pushing for lecture capture and e-books, as well as physical things like improving lecture halls, door, lifts and hearing loops for those with a disability. I also want to lobby the University to tackle the disability graduate employment gap.

Lastly, as VP Voice I want to really make your voice heard so you can impact the decisions we make at the Students Union. I will expand the ‘Make Your Change’ event to run every other month so you can drive our campaigns all year round. Finally, I want to add a feedback/suggestion box to the SU website to make sharing your ideas with us quick and easy.

I am really passionate about this role and the experience I have gained this year as Union Chair and a Trustee of the SU gives me the knowledge to really hit the ground running and make a difference.

I really hope I’ve done enough to win your vote. Thank you for reading.

All the best,

Theo

Voice Zone Candidates:

Renee Hizon

Hi everyone! My name is Renee Hizon and I am running to be one of the committee members for the Voice Zone for the next academic year. My manifesto goals revolve around holding the university more accountable, increasing minority community and international student representation, and encouraging and empowering student activism. In terms of holding the university more accountable, I want to develop an open platform where students and staff can monitor the progress that the university is doing in terms of acting upon the feedback they receive, especially from the NSS. I also want to hold the university and the students' union more accountable for how they treat smaller groups of students such as new societies and smaller courses the same way they do their more popular societies and courses. To better represent our minority communities, I want to work closely with the Liberation Committee next year to develop more events and workshops that will benefit and help increase the voices of these typically silenced communities. I additionally want to help international and exchange students and give them a bigger voice in the university by developing a platform where they can do so. Lastly, I want to encourage as much student activism as possible through the further development of the current campaign platform we have and promote that platform so students know they are supported in these activities. I want to enable their voices and project them as best as possible. I believe I am one of the best people to do this given my track record for being a Course Rep for the past two years (and I have been Course Rep of the month as well) as well as being on the committees for the Filipino and Baseball Societies. The university could do so much better and I want to aid in that development.

Joel Miller

Hi! I am Joel Miller, an International Business Management student currently doing my placement as an Education Intern at the University of Surrey. I love Surrey, but I believe there are many changes we can make to make it even better for all students!

What do I want to do with this role? I would like to introduce an online university-wide Voice Platform which enables all students to help shape the university and makes suggesting change as simple as fessing. I would also aim to improve communication between course reps and the rest of the cohort with the creation of a course-wide communication channel. Furthermore, I would help make teaching accessible and inclusive for everyone by making Panopto lecture recordings compulsory, improve the quality of teaching by fighting for better training for lecturers and providing more academic support for students in large cohorts.

Why should you vote for me? Firstly, my experience leading various society committees, being a course rep and engaging with a wide range of students on campus has enabled me to understand what some of the problems at Surrey are. Secondly, my experience working at the university has helped me see where the changes can be made and I have worked with many of the people who would be responsible for making these changes happen. Thirdly, I am someone who gets the job done; anyone who has worked with me knows that I am wholeheartedly involved in anything I commit to. Finally, I believe every student deserves to have their voice heard and I will fight for that to happen.

Megan Danielle Simmons

Hi Surrey! My name is Megan Danielle Simmons, a second-year law student and I am running to be part of the Voice Zone. My manifesto covers four main points that I feel most passionate about achieving in order to make our experience at Surrey better.

For my first point, I would like to speak to students about why assessments & feedback are so low for student satisfaction scores and negotiate with management what we can do to improve this. You may make memories here but one of the most important things you take away from University is your degree, so this is an important issue that needs to be improved.

My second point is about listening to everyone. Generally, the Voice Zone is all about giving students a voice, but are we actually being listened to? This is particularly an issue with commuters who pay out on parking and placement students who feel isolated from the rest of the community. There is a need for activities and inclusion tailored at these groups.

Thirdly, let’s talk Course Reps. Most of us don’t know who our Course Reps are, how to reach out to them or what they do. I want to improve this by incorporating them on the new ‘MySurrey App’ and better communicate their successes.

Finally, rent in Guildford is still extortionate, meaning students from lower income families cannot afford to live in accommodation above Band A or B, most of which is in Hazel Farm. Meanwhile, the most expensive accommodation is on Manor Park, which segregates the community. I want an open discussion on how to manage this better. I also want to support students with housing fall-outs, a major issue I have seen for second years and above.

Thank you for reading and no matter what please vote!

VP Community Candidates:

Izzy Watkins

Hello! My name is Izzy and I’m a final year music student. I’m running for VP Community because I want to bring students together and help make their time at Surrey memorable. I’ve always dreamed of being a sabbatical officer but what drew me to community was the experiences I’ve had being the founder and president of PetSoc. At our dog walks I meet people from all different courses, cultures, countries and backgrounds, all united through a love of dogs and I’ve become passionate about bringing communities together and celebrating our similarities and our differences.

Here are some of my pledges:

-A total re-design of The Front Room

The Front Room has the potential to be a really lovely social space for students but at the moment furniture is old and broken, the room is dark and it’s not the nicest environment to socialise in. I want to brighten it up, install arcade games and make it a place students want to socialise in.

-Bringing you Univision

Imagine this: the Eurovision Song Contest but instead of countries competing, it’s Universities! I will organise a huge live music event with acts competing from different Universities in what could be described as music’s answer to Varsity.

-Tackling loneliness

Loneliness affects so many students and I want to organise activities to help bring people together. In particular I pledge to be in the office on Christmas Day with a social organised for those who stay in Guildford over the holidays.

-More non-alcoholic events during Freshers’ Week

Everybody deserves a memorable Freshers’ Week whether that involves alcohol or not. From speaking to students who don’t drink, I’ve gathered that many feel like there weren’t enough non-alcoholic events during Freshers’ Week for them to attend and therefore I pledge to bring you fun events such as an inflatable obstacle course, a petting zoo and a speed-friending event.

-Expand the Early Induction Freshers’ Fair

As somebody on the autistic spectrum myself I understand how crucial the early induction is for many neurodiverse students. Because the main Freshers’ Fair can be too overwhelming for many with autism, a mini Freshers’ Fair is held during the induction for these students. I want to expand this Fair so students get a great Freshers’ Fair experience.

I have a breadth of experience that will help me succeed in this role. I have been a course rep for 4 years, I am the Founder and previous President of the society for students on the autistic spectrum, AutiSoc, I sat on the support zone in my second year and was awarded the Sam Bull Award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Wellbeing for my work, I’m the LGBT+ Representative on the Liberation Committee and, as previously mentioned, I’m the current President of PetSoc.

A vote for Izzy is a vote for a candidate who is creative, determined and hard-working. Together let’s #MakeLifeIzzyer for Surrey students!

Tristan Phillips

I am Tristan and I am running to be your next VP Community. I am repeating my 2nd year as a physics student; the current treasurer of both the Politics Society and the Surrey Liberal Society; Social Secretary for Dodgeball and I play for the Surrey Stingers. You may remember I came runner up for VP Community last year.

As candidates, we can only fit so much on an A4 manifesto, and for a role which has so many aspects and responsibilities, I believe my manifesto covers many of the areas which the VP Community deals with.

1 – Creating a Sustainability Chair.

It’s time that we show we are serious about reducing our impact on the planet. I will create a Sustainability Chair that will meet regularly with students and societies to discuss methods for improving our sustainability and lobby the university to act. I will bring a motion to the AMM to create this position. The person to take on this role will be elected in Surrey Decides 2021.

In the meantime, I will be pushing both the Union and University to act more decisively on sustainability from reducing litter, to lobbying the university to divest from banks, which invest heavily in fossil fuels. I would also like to use the Southern Unions Network to push other Unions to do the same.

2 – Social and Inclusive Campus.

These policies are about increasing social spaces, and a more inclusive accommodation policy. Currently, only freshers can book accommodation common rooms. I want this to change so that anyone can book them as this was the case in my first year, and it allowed me to attend events that felt more personal to the club or society in question and made me feel that campus was my home.

I will expand lifestyle flat choices to include Kosher and Halal options, and improve the way that quiet accommodation is allocated. This was on my manifesto last year, and as the universities policy hasn’t changed, it has stayed. The Kosher and Halal options will be voluntary, in the same way that the non-alcoholic, same sex, and quiet accommodation choices are. This will serve students by providing greater control over their accommodation, and allow students to feel at home on campus.

3 – International Fees.

Every year, the tuition fees for international students increases. International students applying for the 2019/20 year are subject to a 4% rise, for every year of the course. Tuition fees for 2020/21 vary from £17900 to £21,700 and are also subject to the same percentage increase. These increases can come as a shock to international students, which is at best a horrible surprise, and at worst leads to students dropping out.

I want the university to adopt ‘Front Loaded Inflationary Rises’, which considers the inflation over the duration of the course, and averages the increase across every year, resulting in a flat fee which would not be increased every year, allowing students to make an informed decision about their education costs.

Community Zone Candidates:

Nathaniel Nelson-Williams

Hey there,

I’m Nat and I’m a Business Management with Marketing student currently on placement – running for Community Zone in Surrey Decides! I’m running because I truly care about our student experience here at Surrey and I’d love to work for you in our Students’ Union.

I want to ensure that there are more events, both on and off Stag Hill, for you. I’d (1) create an Events Council to support societies planning and promoting events that feature external organisations. (2) I’d establish an online voting system for you to be able to directly choose the events your Community Zone run and directly feedback on current events run for you by our Students’ Union, including Rubix nights.

I believe no student should be made to feel alone. We’re a community with students who study abroad; who commute every day; who work on placement; who need to be home; who stay at Surrey during the holidays; and whether you’re at Hazel Farm, Manor Park, Stag Hill or off-site, I would always work for you and your experience at Surrey. More events and more entertainment is just the start. I want to bring more of us together through the Community Zone; and my experience as Liberation Rep, Course Rep and Society Signatory would support this.

I would broaden sustainability and raising and giving efforts by (3) developing an annual initiative with Student Enterprise to promote social entrepreneurship; (4) launching a #SustainableSurrey campaign; and (5) organising weekly fundraisers here at Surrey and in Guildford Town Centre. I would essentially expand on the work our Students’ Union has done to ensure that sustainability and RAG are prioritised across our University, and do more. Please read my manifesto if you’d like to know more and reach me anytime @NatforCommunityZone on Facebook and Instagram!

Thank you!

David Dobrotvorskij

My name is David My name is David Dobrotvorskij and I am running to be your Part-time Officer for the Community Zone. In my manifesto, I tried to focus on bringing a much closer community-feel to students, while making Guildford safer.

To do this I want to introduce something I call a “Citizenship Award”. This will be an official accolade handed out by the Union to a particular student or group of students that have done something outstanding for the community. I hope this will both raise awareness towards the great achievements of students on campus and encourage more students to be proactive about their surroundings.

My “continuous improvement” manifesto point is purposefully ambitions, designed to find all the little, everyday things that can make everyone’s experience at Surrey better and more sustainable. Two examples of thing I want to do as part of this policy are:

To create outdoor study spaces and remove plastic wrapping form hot food in Simply Fresh.

My final point is about making Guildford safer. To archive this I want to build a closer relationship with the local police, making sure they take our problems seriously and treat them with the respect they deserve. I want to bring back a dedicated police rep on campus, to increase their accountability and make the police more trustworthy among students, so they feel more comfortable reporting their issues.

I hope you vote for me as I have much experience in working with the Union. I am currently part of three committees, as well as a, being a Course Rep. To find out more follow my social media on Instagram and Facebook by searching Dave D for Community.

Voting opens on the 3rd of March and closes on the 7th, hope to see you around campus,

Much love,

Dave D

#votetheD and I am running to be your Part-time Officer for the Community Zone. In my manifesto, I tried to focus on bringing a much closer community-feel to students, while making Guildford safer.

To do this I want to introduce something I call a “Citizenship Award”. This will be an official accolade handed out by the Union to a particular student or group of students that have done something outstanding for the community. I hope this will both raise awareness towards the great achievements of students on campus and encourage more students to be proactive about their surroundings.

My “continuous improvement” manifesto point is purposefully ambitions, designed to find all the little, everyday things that can make everyone’s experience at Surrey better and more sustainable. Two examples of thing I want to do as part of this policy are:

To create outdoor study spaces and remove plastic wrapping form hot food in Simply Fresh.

My final point is about making Guildford safer. To archive this I want to build a closer relationship with the local police, making sure they take our problems seriously and treat them with the respect they deserve. I want to bring back a dedicated police rep on campus, to increase their accountability and make the police more trustworthy among students, so they feel more comfortable reporting their issues.

I hope you vote for me as I have much experience in working with the Union. I am currently part of three committees, as well as a, being a Course Rep. To find out more follow my social media on Instagram and Facebook by searching Dave D for Community.

Voting opens on the 3rd of March and closes on the 7th, hope to see you around campus,

Much love,

Dave D

#votetheD

Union Chair Candidates:

Hi, my name is Charlotte Webb and I am a 2nd year Theatre and Performance student. I am running for Union Chair this year. I am currently part of the Voice Zone. It has been great representing the views of students and working to improve their experience at Surrey. I would love to continue this work next year.

I am running because I care. It is more than just another thing to add to a CV for me. Working with the Union has shown me how much the students need protecting and the power students have to take ownership over their futures.

In recent years, there has been a sense of the University of Surrey treating itself as a business. I hate to think that any student feels as if they are a commodity and I believe that being Union Chair would enable me to ensure policies are adhered to and give me greater opportunity to protect students.

In terms of my manifesto, there are 3 key goals I would like to achieve. Transparency and communication are so important and if I am elected, the first thing I would like to do would be to ensure students know and understand how Exec meetings work and what the Sabbatical and Part Time Officers do. I would do this through monthly Exec reports which would be published on the Union website, with links to them on social media. Social media is a really powerful tool to communicate the success of Officers to students and encourage a more open dialogue between them. It is my hope that this would give students greater confidence in their union and feel as though they can make a real difference.

Secondly, I want to increase the number of students who are able to attend and participate in Exec and other Union events. I would do this by holding Exec in the different schools across campus, including GSA and the Vet school; promoting the meetings ahead of time so a maximum number of students could attend. I believe it is really important to engage students from across the University so that they have a say in their future at Surrey.

Finally, I am really passionate about continuing the work of previous Chairs, Olivia and Theo, with the Accountability Panel and I also want to work to help non-Exec Part Time Officers feel motivated to fulfil their manifesto. I would do this by holding bi-monthly check-ins with Officers to make sure they are on track and provide any support they may require. Working with the Union in the Voice Zone this year has been so rewarding and I would love to help others have the same experience.

RAG Chair Candidates:

Adesuwa Obasohan

Hey! My name is Adesuwa and I am a Business Management student who is currently on placement.

I decided to run for RAG chair because through working at a homeless charity while on placement, I have been able to see the impact that donations make to not only the organisation but the individuals. This has inspired me to do more regarding increasing awareness and funds for charities within the Guildford community. I believe that this is important if we wish to grow RAG.

Most students are unaware of what RAG is and I want to change that in the next academic year. I want to increase the awareness of RAG and what we do throughout the university community. I believe that this is an important aspect if we would like to grow RAG within Surrey.

I want to make RAG more transparent regarding how much is raised each academic year because right now, the only way a student can find out how much has been raised is by contacting the RAG chair. Being transparent creates accountability and awareness which is a value the union upholds.

I would also like to create RAG representatives in each club and society. I am aware that some clubs and societies already have fundraising/volunteering reps, however, having a more regulated system which feeds back into RAG would be easier to manage. RAG reps will also be provided with training and support which will be similar to the wellbeing and inclusion officer scheme that was introduced this academic year.

RAG is not just about raising money, it is also about creating a community which helps each other.

I want to build on what the current RAG chair has started and take Surrey RAG to the next level.

Credits:

Created with an image by Mike Enerio - "untitled image"