Hello all! Welcome to qmunicate’s liveblog of the Queen Margaret Union’s General Elections Hustings in Jim’s Bar. This evening we’ll be hearing from all candidates, except those running for the position of President, who will have a chance to put forward their manifestoes and to answer audience questions.
6:08 – We’ll now hear from Grace Furnell, who is running for Current Student Representative.
Grace is a second year psychology student. She looks to introduce mindfulness as part of the QMU’s Elephant in the Room.
Q: A question for Grace regarding the Parklife organisation.
Parklives is an organisation which offers free activities to get people into sports and recreation. This association is interesting to extend to students.
6:10 – We will now here from a representative for Rose Jackson, who is running for Campaigns and Charities Convenor.
Rose is in the third year of her English Literature degree and is currently studying on exchange in Canada. She wants to build on the successes of the society’s current work. There were no questions for Rose.
6:12 – We will now hear from Ruaraidh Campbell, who is running for Events Convenor.
Ruaraidh is a second year history student.
Q: A question for Ruaraidh regarding his manifesto’s often singular focus on music. He explains that music is his expertise but with regards to other events, he would rather do smaller than large events. He is open to suggestions other than club nights due to the space of the QMU and the size of the crowd.
Q: Another question regarding the failure of the first QM live and how we stop that happening again. In the past it has been moved from Qudos to Jim’s as it is smaller. This will help in the future as, though there will be smaller amounts of money, but the nature of Jim’s means that bands can be charged less and smaller bands can be accommodated.
6:15 – Liam Caldwell stood in for Amy Shimmin. He explained Amy’s manifesto was based on three points: fundraising, championing the talent of contributors and introducing welfare reviews. There were no questions.
6:20 – We will now hear from David McGinley, who is running for Social Convenor.
Q: A question regarding ping-pong tables and games consoles. To him this was a minor point in his manifesto but as he feels that as they are available then they may as well be used. He wants to focus on what worked in the past and what didn’t.
6:22 – Another question concerns the promotion of sport events and how to improve this. Again, David felt this was not a major point, but he reckons more posters could advertise it better.
Q: Another question regarding second semester and how attendance tends to drop. How would we keep up the numbers. Is it wise to test events in the first semester if attendance will drop anyway?
In David’s experience attendance drops off in first semester, he saw this as quiz host.
Q: A question regarding any changes to karaoke. To this David says he doesn’t know, but would think about it and ask the hosts what they think.
Q: How would you have time to convene socials, if you haven’t attended all socials that you were meant to host?
David says he does not see the point of attending if it is unnecessary, especially given his long commute as a home student. He does not finding getting involved in the quiz as important as writing it.
6:29 – 5 minutes break is taken.
We will now hear from Charles Sherrington, who is running for Vice President of the Board.
Charles is a third year history student. He aims to add extra elements to training, increase number of contact hours, build on election material, increase outreach to people outside the building, and to let people we are quite good.
Q: What is our biggest problems with elections and how should we combat that?
Not our biggest problem, but problems with interactions with buildings. Solved by wider outreach to other people, more publicity outside of building, and an increase in the social media presence of our committees to get more people into the building.
Charles would like to work closely with VP to increase interaction if the people who are on board run away before the term is finished creates an inherent problem. Find out what specific problems were found by other members and how we address them.
Q: Part of role is discipline. Are you prepared to be strict?
People in this building put their heart and soul into it. Why should someone who lags behind be given special treatment? I will administer appropriate discipline.
Q: Regarding communications between board, staff and various committees, what can you do to help work on that so that social events do not get waylaid?
A lot of it to do with gaining more informal chat from all sides. If everyone else feels different to Charles about one significant thing then he needs to change that. If there is a decision to be made and if it is the right decision it should not matter.
Q: How to ensure coverage outside the building and as far-ranging as possible?
We need to engage with board. Have people on board have specific days to do PR. More interaction with PR during Freshers, in coffee shops, this is the easiest way to get a far-reaching announcement.
Q: Have all PRs pulled their weight?
This is an issue which needs changing. He expects everyone to do a level of PR our expectations.
Q: Plans for CBP (Constitutional Bylaws and Policy)?
No specific plans at the moment, but there are other issues within the building and they should be dealt with quickly and efficiently
Q: Plans for elections specifically?
The elections should be focused on, but they come secondary to problems regarding low attendance in the building. We need to sort this first.
Q: Is CCSR’s role is valuable
Yes, but it cannot replace interaction with VP board. A lot of increased meeting should be informal and should be done by VP board and not CCSR. If it goes through a CCSR first people may not raise certain issues, and while this contact does have value people must have contact with VP board.
Q: What other training should be added other than for tech?
Change must be given in a different way that is less formulaic as it is currently not tailored to different students’ lifestyle.
Q: What happens if people do not attend?
It cannot be ignored and should be part of CSR training and Charles will enforce discipline on those who do turn up for training
Q: Regarding the high number of uncontested seats, how do we advertise the board of management throughout the year?
Signposting of what we do. We need to constantly be bombarding people with what we do and how to get involved. It is important to be open to opportunities.
Q: How will PR be spread as evenly as possible?
We need more drip-feeding of information. Lots of small amounts of information. It is about showcasing what we do so board is more visible on duty.
We will now hear from Courtney Hughes and Faye Pennington, who are both running for the position of Vice President of Membership, Clubs and Societies.
Courtney is a third year Film and Sociology student. She wants to be inclusive with societies and provide variety during Fresher’s Week. Include postgrads and non-drinkers. Welcome emails should be sent. Courtney cares about numbers as part of the union. We should advertise inside and outside of union.
For Faye, societies are important. Shall do more about what is involved in the union regarding societies and bookings.
Q: Why have sign-ups when they are a failure?
CH: sign-ups should be implemented in Fresher’s Week and advertise the building.
Q: What to do to ensure our relationship with societies is more than an email?
CH: Tell them about perks of sign-up. bookings, more space for socials, to encourage people to spend their time here and feel welcomed.
FP: Wants to give an office hour dedicated to discussing with societies.
Q: A question on the issue of students being under the impression that they can only join one union.
FP: No reason to not sign in to both unions. Not in position to tell freshers helpers what to do.
CH: Would go to cross campus committees to advertise what being a member of both unions opens up. Make clear to Fresher’s Helpers that they can be members of both unions.
Q: Courtney is not a drinker and Faye is a drinker. How would you appeal to the opposite?
CH: Events in freshers week should include everyone. Why would not being a drinker mean you don’t target drinkers. Anyone can join in an event even if it does.
FP: Faye feels that day time events need to be pushed more.
Q: How would you cope with the workload of people coming up to ask you in person in office hours?
FP: This is mainly to do with managing time and being in the building more often, as well as being around in the evenings more.
Q: Non-drinkers not only ignored in Freshers week, are there any other groups you would focus on and what would you do?
CH: Postgrads and home students. Socials in early evening to ensure option of going home quickly. Last year there was the cheese and wine mixer, and we need to look into a variety of stuff.
FP: Home students are an overlooked group. Night club events bring money but should keep in mind day time events.
Q: What new things do you think you can bring to VPs that we haven’t seen before?
CH: A focus on introducing alumni membership. We must allow to show new members, past alumni and we must learn from them.
Q: What one thing does the other candidate have that makes them more suited to the role?
CH: As she has focused on being CSR for building, does not much experience with committees. Though she is confident in her manifesto.
FP: There is no bad choice here. Courtney will have an easier time to manage her time. Office hours were considered after reading Courtney’s manifesto. Fay thinks Courtney will be amazing.
Q: How would you deal with the situation where a society is being difficult?
FP: If society is not giving us details, not making contact, give the place to another society that is easier to work with.
CH: By setting deadlines for societies to respond to. If they haven’t responded in time then can move another society in.
Q: Regarding the problem with getting members to interact with building, what would you do?
CH: Advertise at social meetings how they can use us and what they can do.
FH: Agrees. We need to raise awareness of the perks involved in membership, and the benefits of advertising as a member in Union’s social media to get people to engage with the building.
Q: Room bookings and double bookings sorted at the last minute, what to do to rectify this?
FP: Plan an organised calendar that can be merged to solve this problem.
Q: online calendar allows people to see it, how will you move on with that?
FP: You cannot book anything without checking first. Keen to keep the online feature.
CH: Double bookings happening because VP or other people booking are not checking.
Q: How will previous experience in and out of the QM be useful?
CH: Her experience as Leftie for both Social and Publications committee has helped in developing her time management skills and she is able to fit her responsibilities in.
FP: Like Cortney, was a CSR, and been on Fresher’s Week Committee. She understands so of what she is going to get involved in. Also, learned a lot about time management.
Q: There has been the suggestion of handbook for members, yet this never happened. What would you do?
FP: Handing them out a Fresher’ Week would be very helpful in showing the benefits of the QM.
CH: Make sure freshers would be given something with information on how they can use the union.
Q: You’ve both talked about sending emails to members?
CH: Would prefer to have the events on every week shown through social media.
FP: Agrees with Courtney. Though says emails easier to attract attention. Not everyone has social media, but most people have emails – and everyone has a student email.
Q: People unsubscribe from emails, do you think contact via people may cause people to unsubscribe?
FP: Those who unsubscribe will unsubscribe regardless of number of emails. Would email regularly to know if people are interested in hearing from the union.
CH: Regular emails will cause people to unsubscribe. So social media is a better option and can also let people know what is happening. in the union.
Q: Will people come to the Union just to get 20p off a burger?
CH: It is a perk that will be enjoyed by those enjoying other events.
FP: It is important to ensure that people will know that the QMU serves burgers in the first place, something which they may not have known.
Q: How would you keep Freshers Helpers engaged after Freshers week?
CH: This is an issue and there are many ways to combat it, for instance lower the amounts of Freshers Helpers, and show them that we want them to continue coming back.
FP: I agree. We do two reunions which are sub-crawls, which leave the buildings. Suggests Helpers reunions stay in the Union building longer.
Q: Would you consider the option of making members a life members automatically after they graduate?
FP: It is something I would think about. Applying for life membership shows that they are engaged with us. People would appreciate it but we don’t want to force life membership onto people.
CH: I think that similarly it is something we should look into. But it isn’t necessarily a good idea. Those who apply for life membership show they wish to still engage with us. Making it automatic might take the quality out of life membership.
Q: There are limited rooms in the buildings. Regarding affiliation perks, do you think it is better to keep affiliation numbers high or is it better to keep numbers low knowing we can cater for them?
CH: This is a difficult question. Having more societies shows we are a Union societies want to be in. Doesn’t know where she stand with this, honestly.
FP: This is a difficult one. Big block bookings [say 3 times fast] show those societies use the Union regularly.
7:46 – We will now have a 10 minute break.
8:00 – We will now hear questions for individual candidates. Courtney Hughes is first.
Q: There is already the Gilchrist club for postgrads, how will you ensure the postgrad events you propose are well-attended?
CH: This would be a matter of advertising to postgrads.
Q: The Unions social media is poor, how would you therefore use social media to adequately spread information?
CH: Emails are not the way forward, we must also use Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram regularly and increase our content.
Q: In your manifesto you say you want to do an alumni event, in the past this has been poorly attended, how would you get around this?
CH: Everyone loves a good dinner in Scran. Would outline that we want life members to come back for these events.
Q: Do you honestly think life members actually care?
CH: You wouldn’t apply to be a life member if you didn’t already care to begin with. I think they do care.
Q: Would you want life members more involved in the running of the building?
CH: Please elaborate.
Q: Some life members will have experience, for example in PR.
CH: There is a reason we have the position of non-student member on our board.
Q: You say you want to appeal more to post-graduates and mature students, this is different to our younger demographic, will you be putting on specific events for them?
CH: Covered this in a previous question. People can come to our current events (eg. quizzes) which are not aimed at students particularly.
Q: You say you want to create a membership signup form, will this be through porters?
CH: I would give this to Freshers helpers, eg. through a stall at Freshers Week.
Q: I believe this form already exists, will this be a new form?
CH: This would depend upon what she wanted to change about the form.
Q: What experience do you have managing people?
CH: Doesn’t have specific experience managing people but she does have experience working with people, for example during her time as leftie and organising film screenings.
Q: Is the QM doing enough to seek support from its life members?
CH: I don’t think the union does enough to interact with life members, hence the Alumni events. Giving them a platform in the building shows we want their support.
Q: If you had to sum up your main priority, what would it be?
CH: Engagement with pubs and societies.
Q: So you just said your main focus would be clubs and societies, what is your game plan to get members of clubs and societies here?
CH: Interaction, for example through her initial email which would emphasise to them that we are a place they can spend their time in as a social hub, alongside the perks they get here.
Q: We are also a business, how do you intend to use us as a hub for clubs and societies and turn it into a viable revenue stream?
CH: I want the QM to be a place that they want to go after their clubs and societies meetings – through telling them the perks they get as the member of a union.
Q: Is there anything that can be done to incentivise club members to come down to the bar and spend their money here as well?
CH: Outlining to them the perks that they get as a member, as it is an incentive to being a member in the first place.
Q: Your face will be on the door and your email will be given out to societies, how else would you wish to make yourself known to them?
CH: Being a presence in the union, establishing friendly connections, always engaging.
Q: Is it possible to run an inclusive for all Freshers week, is this possible given the past system (of Freshers Week passes)?
CH: Having individual tickets on the door would open us up to students who just want to attend one event – though this would depend on cross-campus relations.
Q: Given that the only computer with the database of memberships is in porters, would the introduction of a new signup form for membership, is this viable?
CH: Would use Freshers week to test this. If run efficiently wouldn’t be an issue. Not an issue for the porters as would be run through Freshers Helpers.
8:25 – We will now hear questions for Fay Pennington.
Q: Should prices for rooms go up on the website?
FP: Probably not, depends on the event and whether they want tech to support the event. Also some societies stay for a while then leave after.
Q: How will information be given on the website?
FP: I would be concerned if people look at the page titled societies when they are not in a society.
Q: On your manifesto, do you mean you will get rid of the membership card?
FP: The reason we don’t require it for voting is that membership cards build up at porters.
Q: So you wouldn’t do anything to encourage people to pick up the card afterwards?
FP: Understands this, but they clearly haven’t been in the building if they haven’t picked up the card.
Q: If someone has graduated university decades ago, will they care?
FP: Monthly newsletter will let life-members get involved. Though it is as much life members’ responsibility to get involved themselves.
Q: Regarding the merging of calendars, would you support getting rid of separate linked calendars or one new calendar?
FP: Would have to see the calendars for herself. Would consider scrapping it if it looked like it wasn’t working.
Q: What experience do you have managing people?
FP: When CCSR, similarly with society involvement – organising meetings, involving multiple different people with different priorities.
Q: Regarding information put on the website, if you’re putting information on the website in an executive position, do you not think you should be involved in putting content and information on the website?
FP: Yes. Would be part of the role.
Q: From your manifesto you have introduced potential penalties for not cancelling in advance?
FP: Penalties would be a points system, understands that in some conditions not able to give notice. Fines would be small and for repeat offenders – to the point where it is hurting the union. Hopefully will not happen.
Q: There are a lot of people who use the calendar, it is your job to fix issues, how will you stop them happening in advance?
FP: The fact that double bookings are made indicate an existing flaw, shouldn’t take as long as it does to spot these issues. The calendar should be checked more regularly.
Q: Sometimes due to gigs certain rooms must be used as, for example, dressing rooms, how will double booking be prevented in this event?
FP: It is unlikely that the whole building will be booked, can be moved to other rooms. Can offer alternative rooms on certain weeks for block bookings.
Q: Freshers Week is a big part of the job, but in your manifesto you’ve only mentioned it with relation to membership.
FP: Freshers Week is bigger than just what I want to do, wants to leave room to work in what societies and convenors want to do.
Q: Part of Freshers Week that is your job is managing over 100 Freshers Helpers.
FP: Thinks we’re good with how the union currently manages Freshers Helpers.
Q: Why not introduce online signup in Freshers Week?
FP: By making them come into the building to sign up during freshers week exposes them to PR and makes them see the building.
Q: So do you not see why this applies to regular signups throughout the year?
FP: No. For that one week it is more beneficial to us to have them come into the building, elsewhere in the year it’s more an issue of ease.
Q: When societies block book at the beginning of the year, it’s at the start of the year. Bookings for bands happen after this. How would you then mitigate the problem of a clash?
FP: Need to let them know in advance of this, forewarning the societies as soon as possible that they have lost their booking to allow for plans to adjust.
Q: If a double booking occurs, will you simply turn them away or offer them something?
FP: Of course would offer them something else. But if is happening multiple times, would not have issue with them going somewhere else.
Q: Societies don’t use the sign-in book, why would they start now?
FP: Would move it from the front desk to the committee rooms. Failure to sign in perhaps being regarded as not showing up, potentially incurring penalty.
Q: How do you plan to manage sign-in in committee rooms given those rooms used for teachers also?
FP: Would have it clearly labelled as a societies sign-in sheet.
Q: You say that you want to make the calendar visible, is there a risk of the president of a society seeing the QM is fully booked and turning elsewhere?
FP: Thinks it’s worth the risk, as more useful.
Q: How would you handle provisional bookings, would they show up on the calendar?
FP: As long as the club gets back to her by a later date, and as long as it is a reasonable time limit in the provision.
Q: Why should we have a signup station in a different location from where you would sign-up any other time in the year?
FP: Would rather have the queue blocking the toilets and ATM than Café 22.
Q: What is your opinion on how we book rooms currently, given the fact that currently as a society you would know that you can block book for a year, which doesn’t make it easy for new societies to book larger rooms?
FP: Showing that we allow societies to do this shows we appreciate them. Should be limited to affiliated societies. As for newer societies, it’s a disappointment, but would rather a guaranteed society than new societies coming in occasionally.
Q: How would you respond to claims that your manifesto contains things already being implemented/what new do you bring?
FP: Didn’t know they were being implemented. Newest thing she brings is a new perspective. Will happily continue the work already being implemented.
Q: What is your gameplan for getting people who are members of other societies to stick around after their society event is done?
FP: Would like to work with VP board to keep posters up to date, societies who are in committee rooms will be exposed to posters.
Q: Would you consider incentivising certain societies to come here?
FP: If people still come as part of societies they will be using other amenities within the building.
9:05 – Hustings over!
Presidents husting will be held tomorrow (February 27th) at 7pm. Voting will open for all QMU at 9am on the 28th and close at 5pm on the 1st of March.