The Norwich Radical contacted the candidates for this year’s Student Union elections. Here are the people running for Campaigns and Democracy Officer that responded.
You can vote for your favourite candidates until Tuesday 8th March at midday on ueastudent.com/vote.
Annette Tony-Fadipe, Campaigns and Democracy Officer Candidate
I’m from East London, but I have spent some considerable time living in Sittingbourne, Kent. I’m in my third year studying International Development with Social Anthropology and Politics. I’m currently the co-president of UEA’s Womanist society (and one of its co-founders), and the Student and Staff Learning Committee representative for 3rd year Social Anthropology and Politics. Outside of my university activities I’m a volunteer and mentor at New Routes; I sing too but mostly in the choir.
I will start by addressing the underwhelming lack of representation of marginalised groups within humanities curriculums, as well as within the faculty and union itself by recruiting a more diverse union staff. I will improve the sufficiency and efficiency of the mental health services provided at the university. I will reduce costs on campus (e.g. parking) and will campaign for more grants and hardship funds for students. I want to change union politics to make intersectionality an integral part of it, so that it’s not just left to liberation groups to deal with issues considered marginal by the mainstream.
I was elected by students to be a UEA delegate for the NUS BSC 2015; students who trusted me to represent them and to come back with inspiration for change at UEA. My involvement in student caucuses and national student campaigns has helped me understand the union and identify areas that need change. Intersectionality is the way I live my life and it governs all my politics. So I believe I can represent the interests of students, not just those close to the union, and make changes that the students want to see.
Amy Rust, Campaigns and Democracy Officer Candidate
I’m a third year Media and Politics Student. In my time at UEA I have been president of the politics society, a union councillor for 2 and a half years, sat on union sub-committees and a National Union of Students Delegate.
I want to the union to hold relevance for the majority of students. At the moment we expect all students to get involved via clunky and inaccessible methods. This leads to a situation where our union doesn’t represent a majority of sports clubs, mature students and nom-humanities students. I want to expand our online democratic systems, have a stronger officer presence outside the office and improve officer accountability.
I ran for this position because I know I relate to the average student. Most students see something wrong but they don’t do anything about it simply because they don’t know how or they don’t have the time to see the change through. Change on our campus shouldn’t be in the hands of the same people again and again. I’m passionate about students empowering themselves and I believe our student union should do more to make sure all students have a voice. I really couldn’t care less about the personal politics that comes with student unions. Let’s just get the job done.
Rebecca Mckenzie, Campaigns and Democracy Officer Candidate
Hi, I’m Rebecca! I’m a 3rd year Politics and Media student, a fan of rock music, a bit of a nerd and I’m obsessed with chipmunks (they’re so fluffy!). I’ve been involved in student politics since I was an annoying Prefect at Secondary School telling people to tuck their shirts in. Since then I’ve been LGBT+ Officer at my Sixth Form College, a Union Councillor last year, Chair of the Societies Executive Committee this year and I’m hoping (fingers crossed) to be Campaigns and Democracy Officer next year. I’m not the most conventional of candidates.
One of the biggest changes I’d like to make surrounds student involvement in the Union’s commercial services. Student feedback and suggestions regarding places like the LCR, The Waterfront and the Shop rarely gets implemented and often decisions in these places are made without student consultation – this needs to change. Similarly, student involvement in campaigns and Union Council needs changing and improving. I’m proposing incentives to get students actively engaging in all areas of the Union, such as: money off drinks/shop prices when 1000 students take part in a campaign, more interactive and inclusive Union Councillor training etc.
I’d be good for this role because I already actively do what is required for it. From attending national demonstrations, to organising local events and from gathering student feedback, to encouraging people to speak out on issues that affect them; these are the types of things I love doing and this is exactly what I will continue to do whether I’m elected or not. Last year I was on the Union’s Commercial Board of Directors for The Waterfront, giving me experience in understanding the inner workings of the Union (as well as its flaws), which will also be useful!
Rowan Gavin, Campaigns and Democracy Officer Candidate
I’m in my third year at UEA and I’ve been involved with various campaigns and ethically-minded student projects over the years. I’m on the committees of four societies: Vegbox, Food Co-op, People and Planet, Green Growers. I’ve also been involved in Defend Education UEA, the Norwich Student Housing Co-op working group, the UEA Young Greens and the Norfolk People’s Assembly. Oh, and I’ve had the great privilege of guest writing for this excellent publication a couple of times. I study philosophy, and I’m always keen to get out and stand up for the ideals we debate in the classroom.
I’d like to see the union be more consistent in its support for student initiatives. The union often provides great advice and publicity for schemes like the Student Food Co-op, but other times we can’t use space in Union House because external companies are in their advertising. We should put students before corporate interests every time. Relatedly, I’d like to see the Union itself become a bit less corporate. Enough with the branded pens and whitewashed walls. The union should manifest the diversity and vibrancy of the student body – let’s slap some paint around and let students design Union materials!
I’ve got over five years of experience in various forms of activism. I’ve dabbled in political campaigning, NGO work, alternative education, non-violent direct action and grassroots community projects. I’ve learned a lot about what makes campaigns fun and effective. But the most important thing I’ve learned is the power of collaboration. Whenever I meet passionate people working together to change their world, I’m surprised by how much they can achieve. I hope to be able to facilitate creative collaboration between students, so we can shout loud about the injustices of our world and build effective, small-scale solutions of our own.
Yan Malinowski, Campaigns and Democracy Officer Candidate
I’m a 3rd year PPL Student and I’ve served on the Union’s finance committee but more importantly I’m a bus and shop user who thinks students deserve better. I’m also involved with other wider campaigns, such as the EU referendum and I’ve helped run several political student societies. When it comes to my views on campaigns and policy; I oppose ‘Prevent’, I firmly support expanding the role liberation groups play in our democracy and in society more generally and I want to see more action taken at a national and international level to tackle the threat of climate change.
I believe our campaigns need to be more relevant and our democracy more inclusive. This means focussing on campaigns on campus first and foremost. My priorities are getting a cheaper student bus rate set up so students over 20 no longer have to lie about their age to get to town cheaply! I also want to set up a student Shop Price Committee to open up dialogue between students concerned about rising prices and those running the Shop, we own it after all! These are just the two most achievable though, I have a lot more I’d like to do!
I’d be good for the role because although I’ve worked closely with the SU before, I’m not a total insider. I’ve listened to concerns from students who are less involved with the Union and on things like bans and access to council I think my views align well with theirs. I’m also not afraid to mention sombrero-gate. I believe it was a bad call to act without consulting minority students and if I were ever in a similar position, I would make sure that it’s those who are affected by cultural appropriation who decide what is and isn’t offensive.