QMU Autumn By-Elections 2019: Liveblog

Hi! We’re Eleanor and Susanna and we’ll be covering the Queen Margaret Union’s Autumnal By-Elections Hustings in the QMU Cafe. We’ll be hearing from our eight candidates running for CSR and First Year Representative positions. All the candidates will have a chance to present their manifestos and answer questions about them. Tonight we will start with CSR A; we have 5 candidates, including Catherine Bouchard, Cora Doran, Robbie Greenshields, Alexandra Haita, and Laoise McWilliams.

18:08: CSR Candidate A one Catherine Bourchard speaks

CB: I’m involved in societies all around campus and my first point of contact with the QMU was Freshers’ Week! Seeing how passionate everyone was was what really drew me in and made me want to reach out to a wide and diverse range of people. This is really the basis of my manifesto.

CSR Candidate A three Laoise McWilliams Speaks

LMW: I’ve been involved in the Events Committee for the past couple of years and I’ve been really wanting to get involved more, everyone on the Board seems very good.

CSR Candidate four Alexandra Haita speaks:

AH: I also initially got involved through Freshers’ Helping. I didn’t really get involved at all with the QM during my first year, but I’ve found something very good here after my second Freshers’ Week and this is the basis of my manifesto: making people find that too.

18.15 Q: Any plans for the space where Food Factory was?

AH: turn it into a general study space, like the third level of the library. Introducing microwaves, Fraser too busy. Good opportunity to bring people in.

RG: Not really thought about it, currently being used as alternative place for people to bring food if Bistro too full. Still has the vibe of a cafe but without food. More comfortable place to sit – changing the furniture, making it more cozy.

LMW: Want the QMU more a community, good opportunity to do that. Place to not spend money. CD: Socials, try and get people to come in and make friends. Speed mating we had in Freshers’?

CB: Uni doesn’t have places to go to that you don’t need to spend money in. Gets people through the door, highlight our events. Promote our events.

EB: How would you work with the Committees?

CB: I think it would be amazing if we could keep the club nights running as they bring so many people in, it would also be nice to try and get people involved more through flyering and such.

CD: It would be nice to reach out to other societies more.

LMW: We should try and be a space for first years more.

RG: This is an issue I’ve been really focusing on since I’ve become CSR: being a Fresher’s Helper helped me work really closely with the Committee members. I definitely think the Committees need more visibility and advertisement to reach more people and that’s something I’d like to take care of, for example by improving our social media presence.

AH: I didn’t really know about the existence of Committee until this last Freshers’ Week! I think their best bet to improve visibility would be definitely social media, but they’d need to be seen as something more approachable and less business-like.

Q: You’re all involved in one committee – which other would you pick? Why? What would you bring to it?

RG: Involved in C&C and Social, would get involved in Tech because I think it will be a useful skill to have. Would mean that if there was not enough tech people to run an event, I could save the day.

LMW: Publications and Social: Publications because I study English Literature, Social because I enjoyed writing the quizzes in Freshers’ week.

CD: I’m in Charity, would join social. They do a lot of good stuff, for example the pub quiz. I think I’d like to contribute to that.

CB: Already do Pubs and C&C, would join Tech. Bring different perspective, how the committees could work together. Am on different committees and society boards, can see how different ones can work together. AH: In events, would choose Social, closest one to events.

Q: If you had to choose a favourite new signature cocktail for the QM, what would it be?

CH: Or which cocktail would represent you as a CSR?

LMW: Could I just be a pint of vodka?

CD: I would probably be a soda peach schnapps, because it’s my favourite drink. Or a dragon soup.

CB: If I had to name a cocktail I’d probably call it a ‘Fun Time’ and it’d be blue. Of course.

AH: I’d make a Pint of Fire or something like that. With hot sauce in it! I could make a challenge out of it.

RG: For a QMU cocktail I’d like to make a Pint of Dynamite. Because that’s what we are!

18.29 Q: Increase student engagement?

CD: More people on snapchat, get flyers telling people to add us on snapchat. Same for Instagram. Also talking to students well.

CD: Shoutout to my freshers’ title: PR Queen. Show off we’re likeable, approachable people. So many amazing opportunities, both within and outwith the union. Should flyer, connect with them on a personal level. Forgotten with so much focus on social media. PR is about human connection.

AH: I hope with the new events (eg. Propaganda), more people will be interested in the union. I hope. I think we should colloberate with different societies, do things the Social committee does with other societies, bring niche people in once hoping they would stay for more.

RG: Already covered this, but think the best thing would be to have a good range of PR eg physical on campus and social media. Have good events! As a result we would have good engagement.

LMW: Try to tap into first years more, promote to them. Try and promote in halls. Biggest place would be GlasKnow – hack it, create gossip. Even those who aren’t students, encourage them

Q: I was wondering, since it’s been affecting all the unions, what would you think CSRs could do to help cross campus relations?

CB: If every student body offers something valuable to student and collaborates, and if everyone realises what’s good about each union, they’d really improve. I’d much rather people go to other unions on campus than go off to town.

AH: I still stands by what I said before: let’s engage more societies and clubs, let’s let them have their events and socials in the building.

RB: I agree. I think it just boils down to be respectful and professional with other unions. We need a more collaborative, non-threatening environment.

LMW: Yeah, we should definitely engage with more unions (like through a subcrawl for example!)

CD: Unions should support each other more, and even recommend other student bodies to students. If the unions collaborate everyone will benefit from it.

18.38: Q: What demographic of students are we not reaching, how would we reach them?

CD: I do Engineering, not many on my course are in the union.

LMW: Cater to different societies. Focus on first years. RG: Already discussed STEM students, but mature students are underrepresented. Drinking culture in university, events which cater to more of a mature crowd.

AH: I’m not aware of those not comfortable coming here, speaking from personal experience I think we could reach more first years.

CD: There are two key demographics: home students find it hard to engage, to integrate with new people. I think we should have more home student mixers etc at the beginning of the year. Targeting the GUU crowd, one off events eg Red Ribbon Ball targeting at them. Showing that we can put on really fun events, invite more societies associated with the GUU.

Q: You said you wanted the QM to be more of a community: how would you achieve that?

LMW: Just generally trying to get more people to the unions, not specifically QM: just promoting events, pushing them on social more.

Q: For Cora, how to promote menstrual products more?

CD: I would just have people publish them on social more, even through Snapchat, Instagram, etc

18.45 Q: For Robbie, talk about doing events for non drinkers – what recommendations do you have for events, in terms of us functioning as a business.

RG: The book festival, also having more chilled out nights eg board game nights. Also, reach out to those people, find out what they want, go from there.

Q: What have you done in the past year as CSR?

RG: Have been away for the summer. MY main goals were to improve the proficiency of condom distribution. Will be having a trial of condoms in ground floor bathrooms. Attempting to improve committee attendance. Have been Social’s lefty, think I’ve done a good job. Also acting member of C&C.

18:48: CSR B Candidates now.

CC: stands up. QMU has an image problem, seen as the inferior problem. No one knows what’s going on. I want to help with student engagement. Go to them, create a forum for students to actively engage

LF: My manifesto is based on my own experiences in life: you just need very good people to surround you and spread good messages. The rebranding calls us ‘alternative’, but what is that really? The QMU is so much more than alternative. So many people want to get involved but don’t know how.

Q: Both involved in committees, if you picked one to get involved in, which one? What could you bring to it?
LF: In social and events. Would join charity – was involved in volunteering and businesses. Know people with contacts back in Australia.
CC: I’m on Social and Charity, would choose Events. Passionate about helping people get involved, finding what is working.
Q: What is wrong with CSR B?
CC: I am in my final year. I think that people didn’t know this was happening, people might be passionate about student politics etc but might not have known it was a thing. Increase social awareness. Bring more people in, committee members would be more in the know.
LF: People believed less people would be running for A, and so that’s why they ran. Miscommunication there. Continue the train we’re going.
Q: What would you do to bring people to the union?
LF: I’ve noticed not enough people come to the union unfortunately. That’s part of my manifesto: we need to show off our good ideas and stick to our identity, make people feel like they’re part of something.
CC: Like Lachlan said, this is a very general problem. I would really count on mature students to increase the flow of people coming to the union: the university is too centred about undergraduate students. Mature students, for example, might want to drink less: we only have the Cafe as a space of them. We need more general, open study zones.
Q: If you could be any biscuit, which one would you choose?
CC: I’m gonna be very controversial and American with this one: I would be biscuits and gravy. They’re as comforting and warm as I want the student bodies to feel.
LF: I’d just be a Jammy Dodger because I dodge all my deadlines. Not CSR ones!
Q: What would you do to improve cross campus relations?
LF: I believe in rivalry, but not to the extent of don’t go here or there. Sports day, QMU vs GUU. After drinks at different unions. Bit of rivalry.
CC: Should be seen as portions of the uni, whilst operate as individuals, need to not stay within themselves. Posters up for Hive, sport events, and likewise of our events in their venues. Need to actively reach out to other student bodies. Offer different experiences, support the others.
Q: Like the idea of speaker series, but previously poorer attended. Apart from advertising, how would people engage with it.
LF: For the first one, need a big name. People don’t want to hear a politician speak every month – for example something like an astronaut talking about time in space. Move away from guest lectures and political debates, need people who want to share a story
Q: Do you think that the QMU has held back from trying new things? Should we be more comfortable trying new things?
LF: Yes and no. There’s a new, younger generation who wants new things. They really want to be bold and showcase what to believe, things have got more intense (especially political) lately.
Q: Want the techno to be the same night as Hive, is that feasible?
LF: There’s a gap in the techno scene, people don’t want to listen to Hive tunes. Students in GSA very keen as well, want djs who know what they’re doing. Now Flat 0/1 has closed, big market.
Q: What is your dream theatre role, what does this say about your role as CSR?
CC: I was in Shrek the Musical. Want to play Orpheus in Hades Town – the QMU is my Eurydice. But I won’t let it die, I won’t look back. LF: Billy Elliot, because I cried
Q: For Chase: you mentioned that you want to perhaps help with the outreach with different platforms like Discord. How?
CC: I’ve already started using it during freshers’ to communicate with people, and people thought it was a great idea. It started out as a gaming platform, but it keeps growing into a communal space for people to be in touch through active real time conversations. This could help us instantly engage with ideas: active engagement, I feel, will really benefit and help students connect more with the union.
Q: How do you feel about Discord releasing personal info though?
CC: I didn’t know, but I’m not surprised. If that is the case, I think we should take more care in being extremely transparent to people about what we do. There are other options obviously. Ultimately, it’s becoming harder and harder in this day and age to avoid this downside.
19:13: First Year Representative Sanksar Ranglani speaks.
Q: Are you aware that the QM has our own Mental Health Campaign? There’s a new initiative called The Conversation, the first meeting was in freshers’. Do you think it’s worth it to create a meeting like that just for first years?
SR: I believe that if they personally get a one on one discussion with someone like in a buddy system that’s better. It’s indispensable for us to do it.
Q: As an international student myself, how would you get more of them engage?
SR: We could have an international students lunch or something like that once a month and they could come along. There are also a lot of international festivals that we’re not celebrating that we could get on.
Q: Do you have any plans on how to support older students?
SR: Once again, the buddy system could be applied to older students as well.
Q: which type of students are missing, other than first years?
SR: I’m only a first year, so am not sure yet. I would answer that question later on. 
Q: How do you keep the students coming back after freshers’ week? They tend to stick to the same group for the rest of the year.
SR: It’s not that they have to be here every day or week, it would really help to have something monthly specific for them. They tend to look for people from their own county and activities related to that so maybe that’s something we could invest on.
Q: As a first year, what’s the brand of the QMU and how would you promote it?
SR: Well I wasn’t allowed in HIVE so… MY first event here was the open mic, it was a very cosy event. A lot of people weren’t drinking, feeling left out. Would like to find out about the union, and then propose to change it.
Q: What do you specifically want to see celebrated?
SR: Diwali is ten days from now, also Eid, others I am not aware of just yet. As long as we find out what the major festivals they want to celebrate are, work something out that works for everybody.
Q: You think there’s anything the QMU should keep doing to retain the people who came during freshers’ week?
SR: Maybe have more clubs nights.

 

19:26: President Courtney Hughes speaks: This is the end of our Hustings session. Voting closes at 5 on Thursday and results are at 7 on Thursday. Good luck everyone.

 

 

 

 

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