5:40 – Welcome to qmunicate’s live blog of the Presidential hustings 2017. The five presidential candidates will be making a case for themselves and answering questions from the QMU membership. The candidates are: Nour El-issa, Megan Davies, Priya Khindria and Anya Owen, and Peter Dobbins. Keep an eye on this blog for live updates!
6:15 – Jim’s Bar is filling up fast, there’s still time to get down here and quiz your presidential candidates!
6:40 Remember you can submit your questions to candidates by filling in one of the forms from the table at the front of the stage
6:45 – Current president Jack Smith starts proceedings and invites the candidates to the stage. All candidates will first give an opening statement
AO – Anya is a fourth year psychology student who’s primary focus is to bring in new discourse to the QMU. We are great at discussing issues such as gender and sexuality but currently do not focus enough on issues around race. She also believes that there should be more collaboration with societies, and that this is important
NE – Nour is a second year English and Maths student who is running as he feels everyone should feel they have a say in the union. He wants to politicise the union so that members can enact change specifically within the union. He also believes that the QMU should support cultural endeavours, students currently have to go to the art school. Destroy the echo chamber.
MD – Final year student and C + c convener, She is thoughtful and approachable as a convener and has actively involved herself in other committees and cross campus initiatives. Her manifesto focuses on small achievable goals that will bring the change the union needs at this time.
PK – Final year politics student, will not detail her manifesto as it is available. We all know the situation the union is in. Finance, where are we making the most money and why? It’s not just about making cuts, but reviewing and working out what is worth investing in. This will prove our worth to the university. We need to prove to our members and clubs and societies that we will do what necessary to secure the future of the union.
PD – Peter will open up a record label. he has pre released an EP. He will “ram the union in peoples faces”. You can see the photos of people that he sold to during his time in Soho. He has a proven track record of promotion, ensuring attendance at gigs at his previous workplaces. Simply putting up posters does not work. Also nap pods.
6:51 – We will now move on to questions for all candidates
Q1. How do you intend to cope with the imminent campus redevelopment?
PD: He believes the union will be at risk after the demolition of the maths building due to it’s proximity. He will not allow the university to do this.
PK – We will have to work with estates and buildings and that work is not taking away from our business. This is another reason why we must work with clubs and societies. It will be a massive hub and we need to make sure that the building work does not affect us, especially during freshers week.
MD – Megan agrees with Priya, We must ensure that we work with the university and other student bodies in order to ensure the redevelopment does not impact current students. Highlights that this is a long term opportunity. Proximity of the QMU to cmapus redevelopment, will bring students near the union to use our facilities
NE – This came up during his time on board, the function of the union is to serve students social needs. The redevelopment is close to the union. We must ensure the union does not compete with the new campus but complement it and has a distinct identity.
AO – The curse of being last in line, she is in agreement especially with Priya’s point on collaboration and Nour’s on ensuring the identity of the union.
Q2 – Is the QM becoming friendlier with the university a good thing?
MD – The relationship with the university is key for our future. People question why we have four student bodies. Our pride at our unique system does not counteract the difficulties of having to fund four student bodies. She believes we can still hold them to account despite the new teaching space in the union. The spaces have been refurbished which benefits users of the union.
NE – The campus redevelopment is an existential threat to the union and many in the uni bureaucracy do not care for the union. There is merit in collaboration in the short term but in the long term we are being assimilated and becoming less relevant.
AO – She doesn’t feel she has enough information to elaborate as much as she’d like to due to not being on board currently. She does not see an issue with teaching space within the union if it is needed for students, that’s important as well.
PD – This is evidence that the university is coming after the union. We need the evidence to ensure they don’t come after the union. The recording studio would provide evidence that we need the space and it is valuable to the students. The windows in the union will be being replaced over the summer by the university, He “smells a rat” and thinks the university want to take the building.
PK – Peter is a hard act to follow. A lot of people at the uni will be wondering why we need four student bodies and we should be accountable to that question. Teaching spaces are bringing students in and bringing them up to the third floor. That is in every CSR’s manifesto. It might still end up being a fight but cooperation puts us in a good position to negotiate.
Q3 – How would you improve the QM’s reputation?
PK – The QM’s reputation is not great on campus because we try to please everyone and end up not pleasing anyone. We need to strip back to basics. Flux is going really well. equally we need to not throw money at too many big events. We need to reach out to clubs and societies and members through surveys and face to face chats.
PD – it starts with what you see when you first come in to the building. The glass cabinet has been covered and should be used for something. This would make the union look more attractive. He proposes a bookshop and space to listen to the records we make in the union. The uni radio station should be played in campus. The bands he brings on campus would make the QM cool again. We can’t compete with Sauchiehall at the moment, it isn’t cool to go out on campus.
AO – The image of the QMU is a perception. It depends who you speak to. For example many staff think the colour scheme is bad. The members often say the QMU caters to a niche, people who already have liberal mindsets and interest in alternative events. We should counter that by having a broader range of products and events available. Societies say there is a lack of communication and respect from the QMU towards them. There needs to be crucial groundwork.
NE – He has received a lot of passive responses. He agree’s with Peter that it’s not cool to go out on campus. We need to directly relate to students needs that they can’t get elsewhere. We need to directly support student creativity. The CCA for example doesn’t cater directly to students needs. The QMU should be a place for students to pursue their aims whether they be creative or political.
MD – This will operate in three different ways. We must ensure the board and staff put across a consistent image of good customer service. She has experience of working with societies and has had good feedback. Promotion and planning of events, events fail because of PR. Good events fail because of bad attendance. We need to take better care of the building. We don’t have the funds to do what we’d like to the building. We need to make spaces to display what we do well. We need to find funding for things such as disability.
Q4 – How would you address the qm’s £80,000 deficit?
AO – Having such a deficit is very detrimental to the future of the union. Earlier this week she was asked if she would consider cutting staff. She would protect people, if she has to cut staff she would but it is a last resort. We need to devote time and effort to more popular events and increase footfall. Cooperation and collaboration means that people are more willing to work with us and ensures future success.
NE – The problem is identity. We need to diversify events. Clubs and societies can be used to catalyse interest in events. This creates a snowball effect. If we have 50 or 60 new people attend an event they will tell others. This is why clubs and societies should be integrated into what we do.
MD – A lot has been done to cut costs which students might not be aware of. The management and board have been working really hard, streamlining and making things more efficient. She proposes that we should make brochures about what is available to clubs and societies, room bookings, food etc. A lot of losses are based on a drop in use of catering facilities. We should make clear what we can do for them. We have had tempo tea bar and that has been fantastic. This has brought footfall into the union and we should have more collaboration with services to bring in daytime trade.
PK – It’s not just about cuts, she isn’t on the board this year but she thinks there are cuts we can make. She was head of the christmas cheesy sub committee this year. It didn’t go well and none of the options are working. We keep throwing money at a Christmas club night and it doesn’t work. We can work with societies to promote not only their big events but small meetings in the building. We shouldn’t just consult managers but individual members of staff. Cocktail tasting committees are great fun but no one buys them. We keep doing this regardless.
PD – Part of the deficit was for redecoration. (Jack Smith clarifies this is not the case). He will be out on the streets promoting the facilities such as catering and bars. He has experience in cold selling. Conventional PR is not working. We need to get out there and promote outside of posters and leaflets. He loves “ramming it in peoples faces”
Q5 – How do you reconcile activism with the QM’s finances?
NE – The Qm can’t be a political centre of campus if it is bankrupt. If we need to spend a lot on activism and the QM has no money to sustain it’s base functions there’s no point. Activism doesn’t cost much. Students come to campaigns committee and pitch ideas to a convener or one of the welfare officers. If there was sufficient interest the campaign can be launched through the QM. Placards don’t cost much. We need tweets and placards, which don’t need to take priority over the finances.
AO – It doesn’t cost much to be an activist, especially in today’s climate where activism can take place online. The QMU can’t be activist if it doesn’t exist. A lot of the QMU’s identity is centred around activism. It brings footfall to the QMU if we have relevant campaigns. Without that we would make a financial and moral loss.
PD – Activism is a broad term. If we go down a political route the QMU will look uncool compared to the GUU. Actively seeking politics will detract from the social side of the union.
PK – Activism is core to the QMU but we are a business and need to be making money. Finances must be a priority. If we get more political, and have too many strong stances, she worries that we will alienate people from the building. She doesn’t want people feeling unwelcome because they disagree with political platforms. The activism we do already is not costly and we can be more supportive of cross campus campaigns. We can also encourage more debate.
MD – The two don’t need to be in competition. The two sides function quite differently. As c+c convener she has not needed much money. The biggest event of the year was red ribbon ball and all money borrowed from the union for start up costs was repaid. Clubs and societies understand what it’s like to work with small budgets. Priya’s points about alienating people is interesting. People already see the QM as political but we don’t need to take too much of a strong stance. It’s important that we maintain openness.
Jack Smith argues that activism is very time consuming. Can the president really do it all?
AO- Activist burn out is a very real issue to consider. She knows many people who experience this frequently. People will be doing this in a team. This mitigates the effects of activist burn out. In my heart I would like to say we should prioritise activism. It’s part of our identity and history. Ultimately it is a business so finances must be prioritised.
NE -Right now we don’t have a political union, it is only perceived as this. We don’t have institutional stances on issues. He feels as if he is the only candidate who is seeing that activism is in right now. Activist institutions are being praised in the time of Brexit and Trump. Progressives support these institutions. This could lead to profit for the union. Becoming more political would only be a good thing if it was done right.
MD – This is a valid point. She feels the role of President is not just about representing views but making sure the QMU runs well. You are the public face and the person behind the scenes. The day to day running would be her priority. She would support the students who believe in activism, as a facilitator and in a support role. C+C and publications have committed members who are passionate about activism. This would allow her to focus on the survival of the union, activism doesn’t need to overtake her role.
Q6 – The QMU has been facing a constant struggle between being a profitable business and putting on free events and services that improve the student experience, what do you say to that?
PD – The problem is not getting people into the union but making them spend money. They need services to spend their money. The CD sales and charging for naps in the sleep zone will bring in money. He will charge non students money to use the recording studio. He has a tangible plan to earn money for the union.
PK – It’s not necessarily just about finances but time and effort for volunteers. At hustings yesterday events convener candidates were asked about charging for events. She see’s the services we run for free such as the renovation of the tv room as a chill out room and the condom service as something to be proud of. We can work with other bodies on campus to promote what we are doing. If we cut too much of this we will lose members and committee members who are dedicated to these services.
MD – This is a difficult balance. The union is neither one nor the other. Free services are important to make students feel valued and we should make sure they know we care. We don’t just care about their money. We will put time and effort into projects to benefit our members in a tangible way. It is a difficult balance. Our committee’s are separate for a reason, they have different aims. Events and social bring in revenue. We must make sure they work effectively as a team.
NE – He has been involved in both Flux and the reflective space. He would try to expand Flux if elected. Our block grant is given to us on the grounds of enhancing the student experience. He would place this aspect of the union over the idea of the union as a business. We need to survive but only so that we can continue providing a service. We can cut down by considering budgets carefully. There should be smaller budgets on more events.
AO – There is a core conflict between the union as a student service and as a business. It should be a student union first, services should be emphasised. A lot of the current services are free, such as student volunteers. Campaigning support such as the condom stand doesn’t cost the union anything. Having higher costs would elicit a feeling of higher exclusivity which is a bad idea, we are in direct competition with the GUU. If we raise costs, societies and members may go there instead. We must remembers this.
Q7- what do you want to achieve in your year as president, both personally and for the qmu?
MD – She wants to focus on small achievable goals. Students are passionate, but their ideas are sometimes unrealistic in terms of times and finance. She believes her ideas are achievable. Improving committee’s is simple, it just involves communication. Collaboration with clubs and societies is a straightforward thing to do. We have a database of contacts and we can actively reach out to ensure they feel heard. Financial growth is an ongoing project. It will take time but her plans are simple and have already been identified as important.
PK – She also thinks small changes are most effective. Personally she is very passionate about graduate attributes and would like to work more closely with the careers service. This would show the university we are willing to work with them and show them our value. October should be a big month to draw back freshers and freshers helpers. Our relationship with clubs and societies is not original but important.
PD – I want the union to be successful, and then this will translate to his success. He could then get a job at the university if he is successful at the student union.
AO – She has an external perspective because she has worked at the QMU as a member of staff and through positions with societies. With that experience she would like to establish a culture of trust and respect. At the moment there is an invisible wall between members, board and the staff and if elected she could bridge these gaps. She is trusted and respected with these groups already. Groups should feel this is a home for them and their activities. People are at the forefront of the QMU’s activities. Members and societies are customers.
NE – He would like to see a QMU where anyone can come in and be challenged on their viewpoints and enact change that matters without having to know everyone here already. He got involved due to a series of flukes. It should be easier to get involved. Everyone should feel the QM is a collaboration space for any project they want to enact. Currently people have ideas but don’t bring them to the QM. We should be hearing them and helping them achieve their aims within a sphere of mutual respect and understanding.
Q8 – How will you work to maximise and maintain good relationships with the other student bodies on campus?
NE – We already have improved relations in the last year. We should be more diverse and not in competition with other student bodies. We are seen as conflicting with the GUU. It starts as an in joke and becomes ideologically pointed. He would solve this by not trying to be in competition. We should do something other than a space for beer and food. The GUU do that well and we should do something different.
AO – The QMU already works well with the SRC on getting clubs and societies involved. She has heard rumours of a joint affiliation process and supports this. We need to have good communication between the student bodies, not stepping on each others toes and agrees we need more diverse events. We won’t need to point out we are different to the GUU if we have a stronger identity. This would limit the comparisons.
PD – He would like to do a panel with other bodies but doesn’t think it will happen. There are two things that bring people together; music and sport. Weekly 5 a side football between the student bodies could be good for example, although GUSA would kick our arse. It could happen every weekend getting people out. We could do a deal where we go to a different union each week.
PK – The issue starts with the other student bodies and who is elected. This years exec have worked well but we can only do so much if other student bodies don’t cooperate. Freshers pass sales are a source of contention. It is valuable and one of the cheapest passes in the country, we need to collaborate more and push our total line up from all four bodies. Even collaborating with the GUU, for example on when social media posts go up. They need to cooperate too.
MD – The QM is effective but sometimes doesn’t always get the same collaboration back. This has improved this year for example through events such as LGBTQ+ week. We are all underfunded and undervalued, our grant is awarded to us as a whole and split. We need to work together on this. We need more regular meetings with other student body Presidents. There should also be more regular socials between executives and boards of all four bodies.
Q – If the university were to guarantee the QMU a brand new building by 2021 but on condition of merging with the SRC to form a student association, would you accept?
PD – That sounds like the University trying to get hold of this building. The union started off above the SRC and they want to send us back to those days. This union should stay here and he will dig his heels in. He knows what it’s like to stand his ground. This place will be his bed and he won’t leave.
PK – People forget the finer details. Would the exec get bigger? Would some positions be absorbed? She does not think the SRC could run the QMU or vice versa. We are a members club. We don’t have sign ups on election day because we want people who care. A new building would be tempting but not worth the trade off.
MD – There are obvious tangible benefits to a new building. This isn’t enough for us to change. We are proud of our four student bodies. Despite appearances the University is proud of this too. It’s important that this question only considers the SRC, she doesn’t believe just a merger with the QM and SRC would be of benefit. We can work effectively while remaining separate. We should be proud of our history and communicate effectively with other bodies.
NE – In its current form the need for a new building is outweighed by the disadvantages. We need a new building for the purpose we serve, but he would change what we do so that was no longer the case. We share a lot of similar points with the SRC. So do the GUU and GUSA. It may seem necessary now but wouldn’t be if he were elected.
Q – Why do we need four student bodies, what makes the QMU unique and what does it contribute to campus in its current form?
AO – Her gut instinct is that the QMU is her home, and is for a lot of people. We can easily become attached to the status quo. A part of her thinks it might be better to prioritise the student experience in general. We should change from a bottom up perspective. However, there would be logistical issues with that. From a leadership perspective, company mergers are rarely successful due to different perspectives. From a practical standpoint it won’t work.
PK – We need all 4 bodies as they all provide something unique. From the QM perspective, our committee’s are open. The GUU does not have this. Without open committee’s we wouldn’t have had the Exposure Film Festival for example. We used to be the women’s union and we must remember that. We are important historically.
PD – We all do different things. The QMU does live music well and we should capitalise on it. We need all 4 bodies.
AO – The 4 student bodies attract new students to the University. They provide an enormous variety of events. They reflect our diverse campus and our diverse city.
NE – They all serve different purposes but there is currently too much overlap with the SRC and GUU in different ways. We should keep the 4 student bodies but they should be differentiated more. It seems too complicated to new students at the moment. This almost put him off running for CSR last year.
MD – We have four times the passion due to our four student bodies. This is something to be valued. The QMU is open and accessible and versatile, this is our biggest strength. The open committee system makes us more approachable and we undervalue and under promote it. Our venues and services are unique. Qudos could be used more; for example student theatre. We have ceilidhs, pole dance shows, balls, conferences; it’s a great space. Our catering and welfare commitments also mark us out from the rest.
Jack Smith says hi to the SRC peeps who have turned up to our super contested Presidential elections.
Q – This is from the floor – given that you all said that you would not see the QMU merge with other bodies, would you rather just see the QMU struggle and fail instead?
AO – This is controversial since she is running for QMU president, but idealistically a QM and SRC merger is a good idea. We could integrate ideas better, and if it benefited the students it would be good. Practically it wouldn’t work. Mergers rarely work due to management level differences. It is hard for workers to get on board with different ways of doing things. It won’t work.
Jack Smith presses her for an answer.
AO – She wouldn’t want the QMU to fail but the merger would result in failure.
NE – If this came up despite his best efforts, he would do it if there was absolutely nothing more that could be done. Despite our sentimentalism, the building is made of concrete and we will still have our friends and connections if it is gone (qmunicate are touched). We should not be more attached to the building than the people.
MD – She would choose to merge if it meant we wouldn’t lose our people and history. That is more important than stubborn commitment to the status quo.
PK – If it’s a choice between failure and a conscious decision to save the QMU then yes we should merge. We are here for current students and if it was best for them we should do it. We can save the important parts, bits of that will still be there and our history will not change. She hopes it never comes to that but will make a tough decision if necessary.
PD – Merging is failure. He uses the example of Sunday closure as evidence the QMU are committed to failure. The little battles are demoralising but we shouldn’t let that happen. Merging is failure.
9:00 – We’re back, and it’s time for questions to individual candidates. Candidates will come up in alphabetical order. We’re starting off with Megan Davies.
9:11 – Megan Davies takes to the stage. Jack would like to remind us we can still submit questions.
JS – The guardian have said that your manifesto is quite small, and you identified this too. Do you have any larger projects?
MD – It’s a valid point. I set out to be achievable because Presidents often make un achievable promises. I have a huge passion for student welfare. We can do more collaboration, this doesn’t need to be competing. I mentioned sexual violence prevention training for board and committee members, and eventually boards of affiliated societies.
JS – You mentioned this to me last month, why haven’t you done this in your current role?
MD – I am disappointed this hasn’t yet happened. I reached out to other conveners, currently freshers helpers are trained. I want to guage interest in committees. SRC training was not well attended.
JS – If the interest isn’t there why would you want to do it?
MD – I believe the interest is there but I haven’t had the chance to do it in my current role due to other commitments. I could do this as the full time President.
JS – How do you feel about Nour’s suggestion about splitting C+C committee?
MD – I don’t think it would work. Our committee’s are inconsistently attended, we need to strengthen the committee’s we have rather than splitting our focus on another committee.
JS – You mentioned in your manifesto upgrading the till system, what research have you done on the cost of this?
MD – Research has been done by an outside company but never implemented. I understand there are costs involved but students are dissatisfied with our service. For example card payments should be easier, and this would make things easier for our staff too. It may be boring but it’s important.
JS – Is improving catering enough to ensure the future of the QM, what do you think about the accusation we are a cafe with a political agenda?
MD- Catering is where we see the quickest results. We can work on this immediately. It has consistently been identified as a key part of the union. We must address this in the coming year.
JS – Can you point to something you have done in your current role that you are proud of?
MD – Attendance has been a disappointment this year., but this is not unique to C and C. It’s a problem across the QMU. It is not directly related to my performance. My committee members feel they can get involved in a tangible way, for example implementation of a cause of the month rather than charity of the semester. Members of my committee have had a chance to get involved with causes they care about. This gives members a chance to collaborate with societies and head up a project.
JS – Had politicisation not been mentioned by other candidates, would you have addressed it yourself?
MD – I understand and think it comes from a place of passion. It is about creating a consistent image. However the union should be a place people feel comfortable. It shouldn’t be about people at the top deciding our political slants. Our exec is very left wing but this should not be restrictive. Campaigns should be allowed as long as they are not making people uncomfortable.
JS – Would you allow parties such as SWSS to book rooms here?
MD – Personally I feel like that particular organisation are attached to values we do not agree with. They are attached to rape culture which is not consistent with our values. It may seem like I am falling in the middle by saying it’s a difficult issue, but I think we need to be careful to reconcile the comfort of members with the finances of the building. However, if members felt uncomfortable I would not allow them to use the building.
JS – How would you respond to claims the QMU is an echo chamber?
MD – We draw in new blood by demonstrating what you can achieve through the union. We need to prove we have something to offer past our obvious beliefs. Skills such as photoshop design and public speaking. We are more than just what we seem.
JS – How would you structure timelines for events?
MD – It is important to set consistent guidelines. Agreed guidelines between committees, the executive and management.
JS – How would you improve feedback within the union?
MD – Past Presidents have tried to address this. Presidential surgeries are not well attended. Informal surveys are not engaged with. We need to enhance personal relationships so people feel they can approach us, As a convener I have fostered this in my committee and it’s important.
9:28 – Peter Dobbins takes to the stage
JS – You have said you will donate equipment to the QMU for your recording studio, what will you do if the University do not give you a job and you cannot guarantee how the equipment will be used?
PD – I would hate to put in equipment of my own that the university get rid of when I leave. The best person to run something is the person to follow through a project. I won’t let the university do that. I would be responsible for the upkeep. I have been in this business for my whole adult life.
JS – You have spoken about things like a beer garden and mini farm, and how you are happy to do the legwork. The role of President is very time consuming, how will you have time for this if you are busy constructing benches and digging holes?
PD – The union is closed on a Sunday and I will be using all that time. It is a lifestyle not a job. I’ve worked in the building trade and understand hard graft. The idea of a farm and beer garden has taken a lot of flack. As for the beer garden there is no reason it can’t still be a nature reserve in terms of being attractive to local wildlife. Squirrels in London are so used to human contact and it’s lovely to feed them.
JS – A beer garden has been an idea for a long time, what makes you think you will fare better than others at making this happen?
PD – It was put forward 3 years ago and it failed. I don’t know why. It is currently with a society and they are meant to be looking after it, but they aren’t doing it properly. They have had their time and haven’t done it properly. With regards to the council and planning permission, the educational aspect of inviting primary schools to observe wildlife will help with this.
JS – Your plans for committee room 4 is a big part of your manifesto, is this a good idea when we already can’t meet demand for space?
PD – I am certain. I would supply a room in the SRC.
JS -Is this in your jurisdiction?
PD – I was going to do this as a student but then Xmas happened and I couldn’t be bothered. The Williams room is free, I needed to record drums for a single. That room is near a road and was too noisy. Campus security told me I could use other rooms. (without officially booking them)
JS – Are you suggesting you would give people keys to rooms under the premise of booking the Williams room?
PD – I was told I have to go to the senate to change this and I would like to do things properly. I found a space in Boyd Orr to record. What I could do is get the policies changed for other rooms to be as open as the Williams room.
JS – Then the QMU loses their custom?
PD – But we would supply a student service and the recording studio would earn money.
JS – I want to address something. Would you like to respond to allegations of racism and sexism against you?
PD – The Glasgow Guardian attacked me. The video I saw was different to the analysis. I addressed the “1950’s sexism and racism” tweet. Another tweet was indefensible. I had been on the gay scene in Soho for all of my adult life. I’m not defending this tweet. At that time I was on the scene. The other tweets was a debate. If a debate is sexist and racist in itself then that’s not defensible. The debate over the use of the N word isn’t racist. It was a debate.
JS – So you’re saying it was taken out of context?
PD – It was a debate about the N word, so I had to use it. If debating that is racist there is a problem. It has to be open for discussion in an academic institution. This is part of why the right is rising.
JS – The bulk of this room seem to disagree, does this affect your suitability for this position?
PD – I’d like people to engage me in debate and discussion. I take on good points. We are here to learn. I have learnt a great deal since that tweet. I don’t use that language now.
9:43 Nour El-Issa takes to the stage
JS – are you a despot who is planning to use the QMU for promoting your own political views?
NE – I’m glad you asked that. Politics on an institutional level doesn’t have to be top down. The way this would work is through campaigns committee, not the president. The political stance would be fluid. We wouldn’t support a particular party, we would support a campaign. I would not stop a campaign I don’t support.
JS – It has been mentioned that both the current and incumbent C and C convener’s think splitting the committee is a bad idea. What do you say to that, considering that you will not be the C and C convenor?
NE – I spoke to Emily after the hustings yesterday, it seemed like it was more of a problem with splitting the committee than politicising. I will only support this if it makes things more effective. It’s a practical concern. If i can be convinced that things can be done as they are I will support that.
JS – There is a worry that the entire board may have to cooperate with something they disagree with. How will you address this, how will you make sure the entire the board is on board with the decisions?
NE – These are major changes. I am aware they are contentious. I don’t take election as a mandate to do whatever they like. If a CSR runs on a platform I disagree with I would not bulldoze ahead with my ideas. I think we can compromise between the exec, conveners and CSR’s.
[Jack adds – so is it a system of compromise?]
NE – I would look for compromise in how things are run. Politically that would be down to campaigns.
JS – Is the SRC not more appropriate for some of what you propose since they can affect the university on an institutional level, for example welfare officers?
NE – They would not be the same as the SRC. The idea to have officers exists solely to make it so that it isn’t just the convener’s and Presidents job to influence policy. For example if the International men’s day event happened in my term I would defer to the women’s officer.
JS – So you would pass the buck?
NE – I would pass it to someone more qualified. That is intersectional. If you don’t agree with intersectionality don’t vote for me.
JS – Your manifesto is relatively light on specific financial policy; do you have any?
NE – In terms of financial policy I cannot make concrete judgements as I haven’t been on board for the last 6 months, but I do plan to change the image of the union and improve footfall which can only be a good thing. This is why we have a financial officer. I do want to increase revenue, but i’m not qualified to make financial promises.
JS – Will you be qualified to understand finances in six months’ time?
NE – Yes if I know the inner workings of the QMU and the desires of management and membership.
JS – You mentioned the reorganisation of how PR functions, what do you mean by that?
NE – There are lots of chats about PR but not one specific person to approach. This often falls on board members and members of sub committee’s. It’s a trope of CSR manifesto’s. I would solve this by creating a paid position for this.
JS – can the QM afford this?
NE – the QM can’t afford much, but if it costs more but makes us 10% more on each event that pays for itself.
JS – What makes you confident enough to assume the QMU’s PR would end up paying for itself?
NE – With Flux sub committee there is a specific section dedicated to PR, which is under Jamie Small’s control. Making this specific has made PR much better. We are more proud of it and more willing to take it out. The first Flux was well attended by freshers helpers but not anyone else. The second Flux did badly, and we decided to restructure it. More people worked on the third Flux and the improved PR meant we had three times the attendance of the previous event.
JS – How can you be sure that your vision is what the student body wants?
NE – If they elect me it’s what they want.
JS – could you elaborate on more specific political stances that you would instigate in the union?
NE – I want to be passive in this role. I want to get political but not prescribe. My politics should not interfere with this. We publicise campaigns committee well and political students will come. I’ve already spoken to people and it has been well received. Again this is a snowball effect. I will facilitate, not prescribe.
JS – Could you give us a couple of examples of political campaigns that you have helped set up or been involved in?
NE – I was involved in Jeremy Corbyn’s first campaign team, although my politics have changed since then. I saw the campaign go from 7 people in a room to the leadership. I roughly know what i’m doing. If you think my experience qualifies me, vote for me.
9:58 Priya takes to the stage
JS -In your manifesto, you mentioned you wanted to focus on successful events, given that the Whiskey festival was not our event, QMU Live was NOT successful, and the film festival was small. What other examples can you give, considering the quality of these events?
PK – In terms of successful events we’ve run it’s more about the events that have potential to improve year on year. For example St Patricks is a daytime event and that hasn’t been clear until now in our event. Working with other societies and investing our promotion and time in this respect is important.
JS – In your manifesto, you mentioned you wanted to focus on successful events, given that the Whiskey festival was not our event, QMU Live was NOT successful, and the film festival was small. What other examples can you give, considering the quality of these events?
PK – The first Friday after Freshers we had no event. It didn’t necessarily need to be a club night, but there wasn’t enough of an effort to put anything on. Fridays are our night for social events. They don’t necessarily need to be drink heavy. Maggie has done good work on things like film nights.
JS – You also mentioned the importance of ensuring the month after fresher’s week is massive with lots of promotion, but every president promises this, and it never works. What would you do differently?
PK – yes but having no events definitely doesn’t make any money. Trying events makes more money than doing nothing.
JS – Are there any events that aren’t financially viable but are still worth running?
PK – Charity events obviously. That brings a lot to our reputation and no one can argue with that. However if members truly love an event it would make money. Finance and attendance are important in judging the success of an event. Our reputation is important but if we want the union to still be here in two years we have to make money.
JS -With that in mind you talk about clubs and societies, you want to build on the relationship between the union and clubs and societies. How will you balance that when you need to cover the costs, what if they aren’t drinkers?
PK – Showing them the other places we can offer them; scran and cafe 22. There needs to be a meeting with the exec and cons, and heads of societies. We have done a lot of collaborative events this year. In terms of finance, we need societies and members. We need to make money but also provide the best service for them. I need to get more information on that.
JS – Are you open to charging clubs and societies more then?
PK – I think it would be something to look into in terms of the demands they have. If they need certain things, we may have to charge. It’s something we need to look at even if it is not favourable. That sounds like a cop out but it needs to be done.
JS – Drinks deals from Thursday to Sunday for members, but these nights are already quiet. Do you think reducing drinks prices will help or just take away money from an already small pot?
PK – I wouldn’t promise it if i didn’t think it was a good idea. Equally I wouldn’t keep it if it wasn’t working. We can create an atmosphere through music and drink deals; creating a buzz. It doesn’t have to be a clubnight.
PK – I think the biggest issue is duplication of manifesto’s year on year. That means people aren’t aware of what we do. I would like to work with VP’s to increase transparency. I found the role very difficult. I didn’t feel like i was being heard. Maybe that was my fault. There needs to be more awareness.
JS – Previously on board you have been a CSR, what is the most difficult part of the relationship between CSRs, members, and the president?
PK – Fighting for transparency for CSR’s with the freshers line up. It’s about everyone feeling involved and being on the same page. I helped set up Elephant in the Room.
There is a brief moment of confusion as an audience member counters this. Apparently a previous board member had the idea and Priya named it. This isn’t clarified.
PK – That has affected all the campaigns in the unions. It’s been very beneficial.
JS – Can you point to anything you achieved in your time on board that indicates you will be a good president?
PK – Reacting to certain things is important, to show we support students. What I don’t like is saying we are very left wing for example. I think encouraging debate was a great part of Nour’s manifesto. Our stance should be supporting students to feel safe.
JS -In the interests of people knowing this a safe space, do you not need to oppose certain things?
PK – Opposing certain matters, but not being overtly political
10:13 Anya takes the stage
JS – Could you expand on #qmusowhite, which you mentioned in your manifesto?
AO – This was an allusion to #oscarssowhite, which emphasised the lack of diversity in the Oscars. It wasn’t to bring attention to diversity in attendance but discourse. We fall short in our activism when it comes to race. It surprises me that this hasn’t been talked about before. No one else brought this into their campaign, so I felt I had to.
JS – Do you think that there is a problem with minority representation within the QMU?
AO – Yes to some extent. A CSR in last nights husting brought this up. That can’t be helped, the nature of the Glasgow campus is that 87% of students are white. Wait that’s wrong. 17% of students are overseas. The representation will reflect the student body.
JS – We do, however, have two presidential candidates who are people of colour? Should we not just elect one them, then?
AO – If they want. We’re up here to have a debate. Obviously I want you to vote for me, but it’s up to you. If you believe in a candidate you should vote for them.
JS – In your manifesto, you talk about BAE month, is this going to be separate from Black History Month?
AO – A bit of context. In the earlier versions of my manifesto I knew that black history month exists. We can align ourselves with this and it would be great for social media. In terms of the name, i was highly criticised for the name sounding boring. I tried to make it more fun. Ultimately you can’t please everyone. People are more likely to come to things that sounds fun.
JS – Do you think having a funny name trivialises the issues surrounding black and minority ethnic history?
AO – It’s obviously more important to be respectful. I will change the name if need be. It doesn’t matter what the name is, what matters is that we engage in the discussion.
JS – What has your time working at the QMU given you that will make you a good president?
AO – I’ve been an employee of the QMU in the catering department and it made the place feel like my second home. The staff trust me, and already come to me with issues. I have an internal perspective, and know how events function from a staff perspective. I would be able to work this in to the QMU.
JS – Do you think being a staff member here has helped you understand relations between staff, societies, and the QMU board?
AO – Having been a staff member and working with societies, as well as a long standing QMU member, I am in a good position to understand everyone. Already in this year I have had to mediate the concerns between The Disney Society and the QMU. I have been able to explain motivations to each party. I could do this more effectively in the position of President.
JS – As you mentioned you have a lot of experiences running societies, but they are not required to make a profit like the qmu is. How will you cope with the pressure of running a business like the QMU?
AO – That’s a valid question. Being part of a society is nowhere near the level of financial responsibility of the QMU, but I have core skills that I can apply. I now operate the Disney Society as if it were a business. I can transfer that to the QMU as I have built resilience and learned skills of negotiation, prioritising and organising. I organise events months in advance. That’s part of the success of the Disney Society. I would run the QMU in a similar manner. That future vision will help the QMU financially.
JS – What you mentioned about planning events in advance, does that feed into your advertising strategy and would you like to tell us more about this?
AO – I’d like to draw on what I do for Disney and how it will apply to the QMU. I organise well in advance. We have a calendar for each semester. This is on a smaller scale than the QMU, but a forward calendar of major events would be beneficial. We also have two PR officers who shitpost on social media. We could easily bring this into the QMU. Either a sole committee for PR, or a PR rep in every sub division of the QMU. 95-97% of Disney Society events have been successful, and I believe that is because of our PR.
JS – So you said a huge part of the success of Disney society is due to planning and advertising in advance, but is it just because people like Disney? Therefore, you would have to more than just plan in advance for events at the QMU to work.
AO – I’d love to do that haha. But really, i’m glad people like Disney, but I believe our success is not just due to this. If we had no PR nobody would come. Nobody would know it exists. We work hard behind the scenes. We have a huge diversity of events and this is key to our success. People wouldn’t come if they didn’t know about it. They know where and when the events are, and that they can come and have fun.
JS – Would you change what we do, or would you just tell people more about the events?
AO – For the most part I like the events at the QMU. The core strategy should be how we advertise and get it out to people. As for the type of events, I have heard a lot of people say QM events are quite niche. I feel it is good to offer alternative events, but we can complement the GUU for example.
10:31 We will now have closing statements from each candidate
MD – Thank you all for your questions and attention. I will provide simple tangible changes that secure the future of the union. I have achieved a lot during my time on board but I have more to give. I have proved that I am a strong trusthworthy candidate. Small incremental changes are key.
NE – I really like this place. That is evident from the fact I am standing here. I first came to uni not thinking I would have many friends, and here I am with so many people here who I know and care about. I am so happy to have them, and this place has facilitated that. I can be happy about the state of the union whilst recognising that it’s structure is flawed. My manifesto is ambitious, but I have the motivation necessary to achieve real change. I am a flexible candidate and will work well with the whole board.
AO – I would like to emphasise that I am a good mediator between so many bodies. The QMU is my home. I want to protect it’s integrity and protect everyone here. Everything I have said, is said with the belief that I can be the person for the QMU that can be trusted. I have demonstrated leadership in many different roles. I hope you can trust me.
PK – It’s going to be really difficult for the QM. We need a strong level headed leader with direction. I have concrete policies. I am the candidate who will make hard decisions. I will strike the balance between being a service and a business. Ultimately that’s what needs to be done.
AD – *Holds up a board to show us his experience in Soho. It has the name of his record label. He suggests we google something.* My single will be coming out regardless, about the dangers of MDMA. Thank you.
Thank you all for following. qmunicate will now be reemerging from the cave of Jim’s bar and rolling straight into bed.