QMU Elections 2015 – Presidential Debate

Scott enjoyed the Oscars so much that he’s gone live-blog daft and, one week later, here we are again. This time we are gathered in the less swanky establishment of Qudos to grill and judge the QMU 2015-2016 presidential candidates. So, Cat Acheson and Scott Wilson will take you through the glitz, the glamour, and the gossip from the red carp–oh, the Oscars were last week. So they’ll bring you updates throughout the evening about manifesto promises, inevitable questions about club nights, and election bingo. Refresh this page as the night goes on for all the latest.

10:09pm Sorry for not saying the debate was over. If you’re frantically refreshing hoping for another update, here it is. Now go do something fun.

What is your vision for the QMU and why should we vote for you?

Max – My vision for the QMU is one based around accessibility and an accountable board that brings forth policies that the membership want.

Alice – Her vision is a union that talks to its members and listens to its members. Puts forward an image of what it wants its members to have and get from being members.

Chris – He wants respect, a union that respects its members, and a union that says what can we do to improve it. He wants a union free from the politics of life. A union that gives back to its membership. Just wants a good union.

How would you engage international students more, particularly non-EU students?

Chris – We need to ask them, what do they want from the union, they’re here for different reasons, they have different cultures, there is no one method we can use to bring in all international students. We need to approach international societies, find out if there’s something we can do for them.

Alice – Only engage with what they want. We don’t want to engage with them like “oh you’re international, you can only enjoy these things.” The students over the summer we can be doing a lot more for. At Caley they have trips for international students. Would help international students feel more engaged with the city and the country.

Max – We’re not a tour group organiser, we should aim to get them in the building and involved with things in the building. Engage earlier in the process with the international office, we should push them to hold their events here. Cites a successful qmunicate article written by an international student regarding protests in Hong Kong which he believes is a great way of engaging all kinds of students.

Chris thinks we need to treat international students as a separate culture. A lot of international students don’t want to engage with the QM’s perceived notion of a drinking culture. We need to change that and offer different services. Alice says we’re not gonna be a tour group but QM going on holiday in a big red bus would be great. Having gone abroad for a year herself she knows how they engage you with what is going on there.

Spoke about engaging first years – what about holding on to members after first year and life members?

Alice – Life members should feel not only that they’re welcome but they provide something and give something back to the current membership. The Wee Conference for the Arts highlighted how we should bring alumni back to pass on knowledge, we can do that here.

Max – Thinks we can learn from the GUU, they have a highly engaged life membership that bring business sense and links in. We can’t automatically grab everyone who came here for the last 40 years. Need to start with those who are leaving now – big life membership drives at graduation ceremonies.

Chris – Would be more valuable to have life members with more real life experience to be more involved. A life member would come back regardless if they are QM for life.

Max says he thinks life member numbers are low because there’s no benefit to life membership past coming back for drinks. You want dedicated FB groups for life members and a way to keep all your contacts in one place. We want news letters to let them know what’s currently happening at the QM and how it’s changed since they left. Alice doesn’t want to follow the GUU’s example, though she wants experience and input from our life members, without calling for donations. Says we do have a life member page on FB that is greatly underused. What can we give our life members rather than what can they give us?

Home students are difficult to engage with QM events – how would you attempt to overcome this?

Max – The obvious answer is more events earlier in the day. Those here for lectures won’t stick around til 8pm for a quiz, we need to bring them in earlier. More events in Scran are definitely possible, especially for mature students on campus. Less focus on events based entirely around alcohol – those who live in a less riotous manner will appreciate it.

Chris – We need to engage them before we make assumptions on their behalf. Our loss here isn’t the GUU’s gain, they don’t engage with either union. Do we actually need to get more home students engaged? Some people show very little interest and come to university only for the education.

Alice – I’m not sure if daytime events are what’s needed. We’ve had them for the last few years, Friday daytime events got pushed til later because no one was coming. What events for home students wouldn’t engage all of our members? What can we offer that not even home can offer? Need to let them know they don’t have to go home straight after lectures.

Chris replies about the revamp of the food factory. Home students do engage here and a revamp might keep home students coming in. It would at least be a financial gain in a way. Alice regards the food factory and says substance over style, we’ve seen successes with meat free Mondays.

Can you identify your biggest weakness?

Alice – My biggest weakness is expecting a lot from people. She wants to see people give their utmost and come on board knowing they’ve done their utmost. When she was a freshers’ helper she was always asking individuals – what more can we be doing?

Max – Calls out Alice’s answer as being too positive. He has learnt more about teamwork over the year and hopes he’s more comfortable sharing things with people after being part of a tight team for the last year.

Chris – Chris says his biggest weakness is tin openers. Also that he can’t hold his tongue and speaks when he shouldn’t. But he thinks working with the board of management will help him a lot and hopes we think he’s confident enough to work with the team.

Assuming it is completed on time, the GUU are about to open the new events space down the road. How can we at the QM compete with this lustrous appeal?

Chris – We’re dealing with when it’ll open. If it’s open mid-Oct we need to win people over quick. If it’s open for Freshers’ Week we need the best line up possible. We may not be shiny but we’re still great!

Alice – People judge unions on face value. Knows people who are more QM than they’ll ever admit yet they go to the GU cuz it’s prettier. We need to look at the services and events and our engagement (drink!) instead of focusing on the look of the building.

Max – The QM has to be able to sell its atmosphere, big up how friendly and welcoming it is. We’ve done lots of the same Freshers’ Week events for the past few years, we need to throw a great week ALL week. Great freshers’ helpers but we can always improve how it’s structured. Highlights Aloud due to its uniqueness and how financially successful it is and how distinctly QMU it is.

Chris addresses Max’s “unique ideas” – what are they? Max thinks we need to push live music, we have two good venues, the west end lacks these spaces, we should use them. Alice says live music has been a struggle for the last few years. We don’t want to be nostalgic about it but we don’t necessarily offer anything new and exciting when it comes to live music. Do we just want local bands? Just prog rock craziness for two hours (Scott and Cat say: yes).

8:31 Rumours seem to be false, or he better hurry up cuz we’re just about back. I’mma let you finish but Colum Fraser had the best intro chat of all time. OF ALL TIME.

8:29 Hearing rumours that Kanye’s in the area.

8:18 There’s now a gap in the evening for a pee and beer break. Good thing too cuz my fingers are knackered. If anyone is taking a shot every time the word “engaged” is uttered…well…nice knowing you.

8:17 Max thinks a solution should be responsibility on behalf of the board. Policy is too often set by the 20 people at the top without involvement from members. Need to engage broader student popular. Wants increasing use of social media to get involved with how the QMU is run. Chris doesn’t want to sound overly negative – keeping the same DJ and the same club night shows that we are incapable of change and that we need to try. Empty seats here tonight show we aren’t engaged.

What is the QMU’s biggest hurdle?

Max – The biggest hurdle in the next year is the large chunk of new students who are not involved in the QM at all. Highlights low membership, need to engage first years and international students, as well as mature students and postgrads. Thinks we do not engage anywhere near enough with those people.

Alice – Biggest hurdle is getting people engaged and involved. Recognises pretty much everyone in the room, showing that it is difficult to get newbies caring about elections. We need more communication with those who aren’t members.

Chris – Ourselves. We need to engage and adapt to what the members want, not just what we assume they want.

8:14 Chris thinks we can establish ourselves with what we offer and won’t switch allegiance. Thinks people have no reason to believe if we have a strong base. Max thinks the unions have been neglected in the consultation process. There had been rumours we’d get great new services, but in reality, the university does not care all that much for the unions. We can be a voice for the students on campus though, through cooperation with the SRC and close ties to higher ups in the uni.

How much can the QMU get involved in the Western Infirmary Development, is it important, how would you get involved?

Chris – It has to be collaborative. Need closer ties with all other bodies on campus. We’re the established building here, we need to make sure we don’t lose trade to developments. Think it’s more a choice for board of management entirely as opposed to just president.

Alice – The QMU needs to show our importance and offer the best facilities that we can. We have been fine “competing” with the Fraser building. Unsure how much we can influence the higher ups in the university.

Max – Disagrees with Chris, thinks we can plan and make the best out of. Notes he has spoken to the person who heads up the Western Infirmary development because good relationships likely keep us involved in the process. They are already talking about new food locations and spaces for clubs and societies, which is a potential threat, so we want our commercial services and committee rooms to be great.

8:06 Alice agrees we could do more for clubs and societies but thinks at the weekends they typically leave the city. The QMU is a hub for students when they are actually on campus. She would like to see what more we could do regarding sports in Champs. Chris agrees with Max and disagrees with Alice. We should try promote Champs as a proper sports bar, we may as well, nothing to lose. Student prices lure students away from Byres Rd and Ashton Ln. Thinks live music on the weekend would also be a success.

Under performing at weekends

Alice – Weekend events have been typically poor. Our place in Glasgow doesn’t allow for weekend business outside of student involvement. Students aren’t here on the weekend and we cater to them. Think we could bring students here on Saturday nights but does not know what.

Chris – It’s an attitude we need to shift. People do do things at the weekends, students don’t disappear. Home students don’t get involved as much anyway so we don’t lose them. People don’t come at the weekend because we don’t offer them anything. No social stuff, no extended Scran hours. The library and the gym are still open – why not us? We don’t make anything happen.

Max – We need to promote live sports in Champs more for weekends. Need to ditch the idea of it being what it is currently and properly push how we can offer sports at the weekend all year round, not just the Superbowl. Clubs and societies can be here over the weekend too which we should encourage more of.

8:02 Max disagrees with the GSA comparisons saying the QMU has its own unique identity and we should represent that. He would like to see more live music which is something lacking in the west end generally. Why throw an indie night in Jim’s on a Friday the same night as Propaganda?

Clubnight question

Max – Believes volunteers are better than outside companies. Spend too much time putting on a weekly clubnight that’s sparsely attended. Perhaps Qudos does not have to be open weekly. “Busy breeds busy” – if people come have a great night, they’ll tell their friends to come next time, don’t throw a big club night when no one is coming in the middle of the term.

Alice – Wary of opening it up to national clubnights. Open to people within Glasgow. Highlights success of GSA. Generally agrees with Max about the worry over our Friday night. Approach the Friday night with an open mind, not against outside hires.

Chris – Why would we need a board of management if we let others make our decisions for us? We are different than elsewhere in town because we’re a student union. It’s a unique trait that should stay in the hands of students.

7:57 Alice says Chris’s youthful approach is not as great as the experience as she has across her time at university. Highlights the value of experience overall. Chris says the QMU is lacking fresh perspective and it’s not working. Always coming up with ideas (though acknowledges Hinton shoots a lot of them down…).

Why are you the right person to implement these ideas?

Max – Energetic and driven, never down, looking for new opportunities. Got to be responsible for driving everyone forward. Increased online presence, promoted Aloud, and his high attendance at committees show he can push a team spirit.

Alice – The number of roles she’s done here help her know what we need going in to the future. Approachable and friendly, will come to a resolution for what we want this place to be.

Chris – Not using a list of adjectives. Only one candidate would be a student at the end of this year – him. He is in the best position to engage with students who are here now.

What is the main priority of the union for the coming year?

Chris – engagement of first years. If we don’t do that we won’t have a union in ten years. We’ve never managed to address this, we talk about branding and imagery, we haven’t engaged them yet.

Max – Engaging and unique social and events experiences. Things that people cannot find elsewhere.

Alice – Focus on cohesive image of what we are so we can go to first years with a fully formed vision.

7:51 Alice believes we’re all here to be honest and open. She hasn’t laid out her experience here because she believes people know what she’s done over her 5 years. Chris has nothing to address the other speeches either – thinks you can’t go wrong no matter who wins. Chris wants people to see what he sees in the QMU, and hopes to share that if he becomes president. Max wants to highlight his other achievements over publications convenor – points out how everyone in the room was a freshers’ helper, mentions lack of engagement of first years. Notes successful numbers at his committee.

7:48 Max Sefton hasn’t prepared a speech. He wants to talk about other things, his manifesto says one thing, he’s here to say more on top of that. He wants the QMU to cater to students, he can lead a team, set ambitious goals. Acknowledges how big a role the QMU has played in his life. He comes to meetings with new ideas every week and wants to continue doing that and being engaged and innovative past his year on board.

7:46pm Chris Steven thinks he’s the right person for the job. He believes Max and Alice are here because they believe the same thing. He wants to prioritise our problems and build for the future. He doubts that the QMU will be here in 10 years, and we need more members, we need to give them what they want. He wants to make a positive impact, give the people what they want. He says he will be open and honest tonight and it’s all there in the manifesto. Big emphasis on honesty and openness throughout.

7:44pm Individual questions will be kept til tomorrow. What an odd system. We’re all here just now. Tomorrow will be long enough. Christ. Anyway. Colum Fraser is keeping things under control tonight and will introduce each candidate for opening speeches. Alice Stearn is up first!

She acknowledges that people are voting not just based on policies but personality too. She’s served with 4 presidents during her time here at uni, and has an impressive CV regarding the QMU. She promises to listen to the members and have a strong voice campus-wide. She comments that she finds it odd someone said it was weird she’s survived 5 years without burning out, and says this should not be a place which causes people to do so. Nice and concise, thanks all round, applause. Lovely!

7:39pm Shoutout to duty board, spillages everywhere, this is a mental night true enough. Jack Smith is on stage now! We’re off!

7:37pm No sign of any election chat yet but Nirvana is playing in Qudos so we’re ok with that.

7:29pm There’s chat of a Scran already. All this democracy makes us hungry.

7:26pm As with every QMU thing scheduled to start at 7pm, we’ve yet to begin. How you doing, readers? Enjoying the snow? I’m not. I’m fucking freezing. Hoping for some heated debates to melt the snow for a 5 mile radius.

[Cat Acheson & Scott Wilson]

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