QMU President’s Debate 2019: Liveblog

Hello! We are Hannah and David and we’ll be covering tonight’s President’s Debate Hustings in Jim’s Bar. Tonight we’ll be hearing from the candidate’s for the roles of Vice President Members Club and Societies and Vice President Board of Management as well as President of the QMU. All candidates will have a chance to discuss their manifesto and answer any questions. Check out the QMU instagram  where Eleanor will be there to answer any questions!

18:19 Mata Durkin, current President of the union and Assistant Returning Officer welcomes everyone to hustings.

18:20 VPMCS – Three Candidates

Mitchell Welsh(MW): Not going to go through manifesto. Passionate about QMU and ready to get things done.

Fay Pennington (FP): Not going to go through manifesto. Manifesto doesn’t cover everything in detail, ask me and I will explain. It is something I am very passionate about. This is really a time for me to get back into QM and help out as much as I can.

Katerina Partolina Schwartz(KPS): Come to you as a candidate, not as a president of two societies. Want to focus on people having best time possible. Wants to fully embody the three levels of the job, for members societies and clubs. Offering support, offering a safe space. Manifesto is very clear and would like to expand cross campus. Promote uni and the Union. Please ask questions.


18:27 Questions: How would you respond to societies being difficult?

FP: Depends on the situation. Is it a problem with the QM is it something to do with bookings? One just has to be firm, stand your ground and I could do that.

MW: Has to be a first come first serve basis. If they are being difficult but that’s the system, that’s on the way it is.

KPS: Would ask to meet with a person as its easier to talk face to face. See if there is a solution and if its our fault compensate them for it.

18:35 Next question: In previous years, we have had Freshers Helpers continuing to get involved in the QM Board?

MW: Election PR should be around for freshers week, always campaingning people to do board. I don’t believe in just convincing people, need to get to the people with passion. And they will already do it.

FP: It’s tricky. It’s something we give freshers helpers a little bit of a choice during freshers. Maybe doing general stuff, but should also be doing other stuff outwith the building. I’ve managed to do this. Make sure that if there is a passion there, they find it. We should definitely give them the opportunity. This will hopefully have the right impact.

KPS: Personally joined for committees. Get freshers helpers to come in extra days to do little extra things. Get them more invested in the QM that way.

18.37: What have they done on board?

KPS:  Work in event in QM, improve cross campus, promote outside Glasgow. Host debating competition here, allows us more involved in different aspects of student life.

FP: CSR, getting involved, went to 3 or 4 committees a week, helping volunteering at condom booth, went to every quiz there was on, did more duties than necessary. Support role for CSRs helping other board members, helping 2017 freshers week.

MW: Attend a lot of committees, hosted CSR meetings, fought passionately for many things. On board; a little bit of everything a board member can do.

18.57: VPMCS: Katerina Partolina Schwartz (KPS)

Question: In your manifesto you discuss opening up the QMU more for societies to have more space to use. As it stands we currently provide societies the use of all committee rooms, occasionally the Board Flat and Board Room, Qudos, Jim’s and Food Factory. What alternative spaces in the union do you suggest we free up for societies to use?

KPS: Committee rooms and 3rd floor, allow Scran to be booked, nice venue

Q: Scran already able to be booked out for societies

KPS: Could open up bars, big spaces
Q: Lots of societies already use Jims

KPS: Didn’t know what is available so make this more known , seems as if information isn’t available

Q: Do you think clubs would affiliate just to use champs

KPS: If they had the option to then they could book for socials


19.15 VPMCS: Fay Pennington (FP)


Question: Do you have any specific plans for re evaluating the Freshers week system, and what are they?

FP: Freshers week passes, optimistic but wants to work a system where there is an overarching freshers pass but also an on the night pass, main complaints are costs and people want to go to just one or two events. Could be available on the door or at the GUU to be able to pay for 1-2 nights individually. More flexibility, will get people more involved but that’s a big change, will not just be QMU based, GUU and SRC would have to be on board with it. Reducing costs by making them electronic therefore more affordable for students.


Question: Cross Campus working on updating freshers week agreement since October. There have been disagreements over this, do you think you will be able to re evaluate this?

FP: Hopefully more successful, would like to think that she would be able to continue the current work, has to be a collaborative effort, if no one else on campus wants to do it it won’t happen. Wants to make small changes to be able to make bigger changes.


Q: target qmunicate articles to life members but life members are not really our target audience?
FP: Would see which articles would interest them or if any content currently being produced would interest them.


Q: How would you work with the publications committee to achieve this?

See what they are already doing and then see if there is anything else they would be willing to do. Life members want to know what is going on at their old uni, could hopefully interest them in the occasional music review.


Q: Would you allow students who weren’t freshers to come to events?

FP: Not Monday to Friday, prioritise freshers. Other students can come to weekend events.


Question: Regular emails to members do go out, and a huge number of those unsubscribe, why does this happen? How to remedy it?

FP: The people who will unsubscribe will do that regardless, worth getting to members who will read these emails. They won’t if we don’t send them anything.


Question: what did you do as CCSR:

FP: This point in the year to freshers last year, exams, summer and freshers week (FW). Mostly was making sure CSRs were doing their uni work, uni before union. Over summer, daily updates from CSRs about freshers updates etc. Making sure they’re okay through FW, 3 or 4 weeks after FW just setting people up for new terms


Question: FW Committee? What did you do?

FP: Main role was to come up with ideas, see what was possible, see what could be done, after that was to just observe and help out if possible. Annoying as could have helped out more. Good to see how it works though, takes up a lot of time but willing to put time and effort into.


Question: change role of CSR FW Committee?
FP: Would be able to help out with running of FW more, social convener doesn’t get a break so could help with that, and any other convenors who need a break but down to how they feel about it as never been done before.


Question: You ran last year, what has changed and why should people vote for now?

FP: Main points have changed, wouldn’t run if there wasn’t a need to, things she still wants to do. Taken a step back in the QMU to have time to reflect. Very passionate about running again.


19.30 Closing statement

Something lots of thought and effort into, has taken a step back and enjoyed being a general volunteer, ready emotionally to put self back into QMU. Such a big part of her uni life, wants to ensure future QM people have the same experience as her experience has been nothing but great.


19:31 – VPMCS Candidate 3: Mitchell Walsh

19:32 Question: You have been a CSR for the last two and a half years, and was re-elected. What have you done in the last year?

19:32 MW: Attempted to take on too much. Tried to take things on that weren’t my responsibility. Will not make this mistake again. Now just going to make sure everythings set up for the next CSR.

19:33 Question: One of the main points in the role of CCSR is to organise and chair the CSR  Committee. These committees have rarely happened since you were elected as a CCSR. Why should members vote for you when you cannot fulfil your current job description?

19:33 MW: Didn’t hold regular meetings, but was always holding informal discussion. Didn’t see the meetings as necessary. Mainly due to attendance etc. Better to speak to individuals. Just how I went about it.

19:34 Q: In your manifesto you discuss having smaller events during Freshers Week such as student-run quizzes, karaoke etc. Arguably these are already things we do during Freshers Week. Do you have any new ideas you would like to see as part of Freshers Week?

19:34 MW:  Not going to introduce small events, want to give them a bigger focus. Want to make more effort in bars.

19:35 Q: So, should we not spend time on big events in Quodos?

19:35 MW: No, make sure that smaller events have more PR and that individual events are known by everyone. Especially during freshers

19:35 Q: You discuss the idea of an inter-society event during your manifesto. Can you elaborate further on how you plan to run this, as well as what services you plan on highlighting during this event?

19:35 MW: Do things eilidh, have other presidents come to the QM. It’d be a chance for societies to see what the QMU could do for them.

19:36 Q: You are known as someone who doesn’t drink, and doesn’t go out. Are you really the best person to be leading Freshers Week?

19:36 MW: Yes. Immediate response was, as was the precious VPMCS and Freshers Week was great. Don’t need to be drunk to know what a good time is and hold one.

19:37 Q: In previous years, when a board member has held office hours or members surgeries, these have not been utilised. Students have busy timetables and are not always available for those select times. How would you rectify these?

19:37 MW: Definitely worth trying. Don’t think any have tried in a while. Want to make it more professional and ensure that there is some time where students can speak face to face. This will be time reserved for that.

19:38 Q: For the last years, the executive have had an Open Door policy, which negates the need for office hours. Do you plan on getting rid of this policy in favour of office hours?

19:39 MW: No, don’t plan to. Wouldn’t use exec office as office hours place. Somewhere more relaxed such as Cafe22.

19:40 Q: Then, that defeats the purpose of having an office?

19:40 MW: Probably won’t be there if things are very busy anyway. But will ensure to make a note of it and sort a meeting out.

19:40 Q: Cross Campus is already working on space for Clubs and Societies. Estates and Buildings are currently working on this across campus, and the James McCune Smith focus on this rather than on other pressing issues such as mental health

19:41 MW: Definitely don’t take focus away from it. But it is a uni-wide problem. Would want to get involved and contribute.

19:41 Q: Cross campus already working on Freshers Week, so all execs are busy, cross campus is very busy. Therefore, last question was more a practical one?

19:41 MW: Dont think it’s impossible to be done outside of cross campus. Can invite other exec to the building outside of this.

19:41 Q: You ran for the presidency last year and lost. Why should people vote for you as VP now?

19:41 MW: There was definitely support, and think that still exists. Was more naive back then. Realise I’m not ready for president yet. Want to be VP first now. Don’t think position of CSR is enough for what I want to do.

19:42 Q: Just running to enhance position?

19:42 MW: No

19:42 Q: Could have run for VP, but didin’t. What changed in the lasty year?

19:43 MW: Ideas of what can be done. Now realise I’m not ready to be president yet. Want to take on exec role, and I am incredibly dedicated to Freshers Week.

19:43 Q: Does unions perception need to change? How people think about QM?

19:43 MW: Certainly suffered some blows publicity wise. May have skewed view. Want to increase image using Freshers Week.

19:44 Q: How will you ensure this?

19:44 MW: A lot of hard work and dedication. Will delegate a lot. Use time to the utmost efficiency.

19:45 Final Statement:

Said everything needing to say. If you want someone who’s passionate, been here for two and half years and has done a bit of everything then vote for Mitchell.

19:46 – Another five minute break.

20:10 Restarting the debate for the VP Board of Management. One candidate – Juliet Smith


2 minute intro: Two major sections, structural issues such as restructuring duty board by consulting past and present members. Support for new CSRs, how to go about starting as a CSR. Other aspect, social nature of the board, monthly board socials, opportunity to have socials outside the building.


Question: What have you done as CSR?

JS: Not done a lot, had a lot of ideas, wasn’t sure where to start, excited to start because wants to help CSRs start out.


Question: How to increase number of candidates running in elections to become board members. Important to support board members but do you think that your manifesto focusses too heavily on this when the real issue is increasing student interaction with QMU?

JS: Yes and No, valid question but people don’t want to do duty or don’t know what is involved. If there was more support, would be easier if they knew where to go for help.


Question: how to get people voting in elections?

JS: Development plan should address this, PR is important. Keeping people engaged after FW, capitalising on Freshers helpers, changing how people perceive the union.


Question: Current notice board showing board members has funny quotes they have said on it. This promotes the idea that the board is cliquey as students not associated with the QMU don’t understand the inside jokes this discourages them from getting involved. How would you redesign the notice board?/How to get people interested in the board and get people to run.

JS: Can seem cliquey because all friends but socials important to make sure people can mingle. See where it is coming from but need to realise what is a joke and what is an inside joke. Would’t be against putting quotes on the board.


Question: You propose an idea of running a social event for the board every second Monday evening. Board members see each other fairly regularly, would it be a better idea to hold these for freshers helpers to retain more interaction with the QMU rather than focus on board members.


JS: Focused on issues affecting board as board members don’t often have social events that aren’t related to board meetings etc, the structure doesn’t always allow board to socialise.


Question: Current board members have expressed concern that this role is not useful, when it is quiet there is not much to do but on busy nights can be helpful however security often disregard them as getting in the way. How would you try and help this problem and redefine the role of duty board?

JS: In abstract sense, many nights where duty is a waste of time. Been on board for 6 months, would be a lot easier to come up with

20:19 Q: Does the job of duty board have a place in the union?

JS: Overall, in abstract sense duty board is great. Many nights where duty board don’t do anything, so a waste of resources.

20:22 Q: What specific plans do you have now for duty board?

JS: Still have duties when events/gigs are on, but decrease duties when societies are in or the building is calmer.

20:22 Q: Life members cover a large range of people, how would you ensure you are properly gauging all of them?

JS: Would attempt to send out surveys, emails and look at emailing specific groups. Narrow it down to the different kinds of life members.

20:23 Q: Going through review of CBP, want to change the CPB or update it?

JS: Yes, but as its so broad and sprawling, it’s a larger project concering the entire exec.

20:25 Q: What prior experience/qualitites could you bring to the job?

JS: Social awkwardness makes me aware of different social situations. Am very self ware, and can see when people are forming cliques. No experience in terms of previous roles etc, try to be aware of people. Good social awareness.

20:26 Q: You say you want to better support members, anything to add to how we currently do?

JS: Need to figure out the issue. Take the pressure off board members (specifically CSRs) so they can get their ideas through and done. More options for members to help out with different projects etc. Alos ask them how they could be more supported.

20:26 Q: I have held position you are running for, hardest thing is having to discipline a friend if they are out of line. Would you be able to do this?

A: Need to separate professional and personal life. Will have conversation and can talk to someone about whether conduct is acceptable. Has what it takes to discipline friends if it is required. If someone does something that is not in line with union policy, then the fact that they are a friend would not impact me taking action.

20:30: Final statement

Have said everything that needed to say. Has a lot of ideas, but most importantly don’t want to push stuff on board. Will ask for opinions etc. Don’t have all the answers, and won’t assume knows what’s best. So, will reach out to board members and life members for direction in restructuring.

20:45 Now starting the final debate: QMU President – 1 candidate: Courtney Hughes(CH)

Initial Statement

QMU has been under a new development plan, and will focus on this while being president next year. Make sure it is implemented properly. Ensure board members have a support structure in place. Ensure staff also have this, and feel empowered. Look at the constitution and higher a legal professional to overhaul it. It’s been the same for decades and is ready for reform. Not acceptable to ask board members who are students to do this. Would be the focus of my presidency.

Q:Why would be a good President?

CH: Have been VP this year, understand how the building works. Have also been a full time student so many things wanted to do haven’t had a chance. Passionate about the QM, is second home and wants to leave mark on the Union and ensure it is better for students.

20:51 Q: What have you achieved as VPMCS?

A: Did a very successful freshers week. Ensured was present over the summer, while also working. Worked with former student member and communication manager to have a life member event. Worked on society affiliation, have a record number. Working with communications officer to revamp the booking system – significantly improved now. Also, lots of emails.

20:52 Q: The QMU has constantly been saying for some time now that it will be updating its policies so they are fit for purpose. There are various people working on the development plan and you want to hire a legal professional to rewrite the CBP. How will you ensure this development process does not get too convoluted and that the policies are updated properly and as quickly as possible so the QMU can function effectively and cohesively?

CH: People have been working on it, but not much has happened. Believe this is due to it being done by those who don’t have the time or professional focus. Hence, makes sense to bring in someone with a legal background. Can specify what needs to change.

Q: Following on from that, how will you ensure transparency throughout this process so members are reassured that the QMU is actually doing something productive?

CH: Work with communications coordinator to ensure regular statements are put up about the process. What‘s being changed, how the work is being done and how long it should take. Will ensure that there is transparency.

20:54 Q:  The Presidency is uncontested for the first time in at least 7 years. Engagement has been dropping across campus and this is showing in everything that we do. What  would you specifically do to increase the engagement?

CH: Difficult question, engagement has been dropping but no one knows why (across uni). Need to do more research to find the cause. Then establish a plan for the future year which can be built on.

Q: Committees have suffered for attendance, how would you increase attendance?

CH: Have enquired about this. Would work closer the conveners. Do more in freshers week, ensure freshers know when things are happening. This would be done through the conveners.

Q: Lots in manifesto about research being done, what do you think the reputation is of QM right now?

Ch: Honestly, students see QM is very poor. Lots of students don’t know QM exists or don’t want to get involved. Due to publications recently, it has a really bad image. Do have a lot of active students, need to find a way to fix the wider campus reputation. Shall revamp the union and help it change so it is perceived as what it should be about, not this image.

Q: How?
CH: Look at what students want from us, spend next year providing that so that students will actually go to QM. Work with bord members and staff members to help implementing this. More advertisement of committees and show how good they are. Revamp union!

Q: Manifesto focuses on fixing the present, any plans to bring something new to the Union?

CH: Focus on students actually want. Bring that in. Have been working on the assumption it is known what they want, but actually need to answer the question and find out properly.

Q: What will you do if research shows that QM shouldn’t exist?

CH: If it came back with negative review, will need to work on how to become not viewed like that. Ar students that wouldn’t be saddened if QM suddenly didn’t exist. Would work hard to ensure that QM can be rebranded and made into something students want.

Q: How would you change the way Finance Committee works?

CH: Takes too much time and don’t achieve much of what it should. Goes through process – seems long. Should look at finances of the union and figure out the position that QM is in. Need a set time to discuss budgets in a more structured manner. It isn’t structured at the moment, so this will need to change. Work with general managers how it could be changed to be more efficient.

Q: Manifesto doesn’t mention financial issues the union is facing. What will you do about them?

CH: What is being done is cutting funds in the wrong place. Cutting staff or events, where this is where money should definitely needed. See what students want and then can more effectively distribute the budget. Are in a deficit, need to look at how money is spent and focus on what students want, more students will come and balance this.

Q: Currently as VPMCS you go to Cross Campus(CC), would you change how they are done?

CH: Yes and no. Focus on Freshers Week and restricting finances about that. It’s important, but not as much effort is being put into other areas. Not getting as much out of meetings as should be. Restructuring will need to be a cross campus effort.

Q: Do you have any ideas on how to change CC for a better?

CH: Difficult to see what change would be effective. Need to look at other issues, not just freshers week. Would have a section to focus on FW, but then also discuss campus issues like mental health of students.

Q: CC is focused on Freshers Week, what have you contributed to the evaluation?

CH: Wishes had contributed more. Adamant on introducing individual tickets (such as bands) to freshers week. Something to certainly work on as president.

21:09 Q: Number one thing to change as president?

CH: Change the way that board (in particular board meetings) are currently structured. Seen that board meetings have become less productive, board members don’t communicate, also don’t communicate with exec. This must change. They are also having consistent meetings and everyone is ‘in the loop’.

21:10 Q: What’s the biggest problem facing students on campus and what can QM do?

CH: Hard question: there are many issues. Can’t choose one, lots of issues regarding mental health, general wellbeing etc.

Q: Top 3?

CH: mental health, financial strain and strain put by the university and studying.

Q: How would you help QM to help students deal with this?

CH: Very easy thing to do is ensure that we are sharing platforms where students can get help. Ensure students have access to help for any of these issues when they are struggling with them.

Q: What is your biggest weakness?
CH: May struggle with next year: ensure staff and board members go along with the changes. The building has a structure which has existed for a long time and it’s perhaps not something that can be suddenly changed. May become an uphill battle. Will put in the effort and time and ensure that the changes do empower staff and students.

Q: You are the current VPMCS. The VP are both unpaid positions. President is. What have you done to show that the QM should start paying for you>

CH: Dedicate a lot of time to this, despite the fact VPMCS is an unpaid position. Attend all meetings, have been here four times a week and have shown the dedication that I will put into the Union. Won’t have uni anymore, so therefore can put even more dedication and effort into it.

Q: Apart from being VPMCS, what qualities do you have which will help you in being a good president?

CH: Am dedicated to the union, have ensured that doing job correctly and am always available. This shows the dedication, effort and time that has been put in.

21:17 Q: Deficit is growing, four years ago the deficit was continuing the way it was, now three years on this hasn’t changed. Will the QM close under you as a President?

CH: No, the QM won’t close. The entire point of the review process is so that the union doesn’t close next year. The union needs a complete overhaul and needs to be modernised, and it will change. So, therefore, it won’t be closed. New students will see the new effort and will engage with this. They’ll find QM isn’t outdated. Fully believe that the change that the QM is currently making will make this a better Union overall.


Closing Statement 21:22

Have seen that lots of my time has been spent being dedicated to the Union. This will continue next year. I aim to be a good president next year. Want to transform he union into something that students want. I love the QM, and don’t want to see it close. See me campaigning and get lots of dinosaurs!

21:26 That’s the end of the Presidents debate! Voting opens at 9am tomorrow and closes at 5pm on Thursday.

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