Sam Fearnley on the UCLU Spring Elections event
The editors would like to apologise for the absence of the candidates for Activities and Events Officer. Sam turned up late because he was getting a bagel. You can watch our interviews with the candidates here.
Judging by the audience’s passionate cheers of support and detailed election talk, it seemed like most people who attended today’s ‘Candidates in the Quad’ event had already made up their minds as to who they would vote for in the UCLU Spring Elections.
The event was, however, still a great chance to ask all the candidates about their manifestos and see how an officer acts in real life, rather than just seeing their face hanging limply off a soggy poster. With only 24 hours to go until voting closes, the campaigning students were also keen to grab the attention of anybody passing through the crowd.
First were the Postgraduate Student’s Officer candidates. All three of the candidates attended, and, perhaps due to their position being first, there were only a few questions. All the candidates answered strongly, and seemed passionate about the rights of Masters and PhD students at UCL.
Next was the Sustainability, Engagement and Operations Officer. Two of the candidates arrived to answer questions, with James Simcox not appearing. Although both Mohammad Ali and David Dahlborn emphasised that they have taken influential positions within UCL already, they both took quite different approaches to answering the questions. Mohammad Ali criticised the UCL Estate, and emphasised the lack of water fountains or microwaves, something he seemed passionate to change. David Dahlborn took inspiration from his previous few years’ work as a Hall’s representative and a politically active UCL student. His passion for changing living conditions was evident, as was his involvement with UCL Defend Education.
Both the candidates seemed conscious of the problems they would need to face, and both answered the questions articulately and confidently. Many of the questions regarded the ubiquitous UCL problem of space.
The Education and Campaigns position followed this. Raquel Nunes Palmeira and Wahida Samie took to the stage, with Vlad Kardapoltsev not present. Both candidates gave good answers, with Samie focusing on 24 hours libraries and empowering students to run their own campaigns. Palmeira took a different approach: calling upon her political experience with campaign groups at UCL, she talked about her passion for cutting tuition fees, working with the liberation officers and reducing the cost of facilities and rents.
The Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer position was next. Both candidates made appearances: Amina Lunat and Sareh Heidari. Lunat took a specific focus on expanding the BME network, something she says she has benefitted from. Heidari focused on setting up an infrastructure for reporting racist and religiously motivated hate crimes, as well as working with UCL to minimise the effect of the counter terrorism and security bill, which she says will encourage racial profiling and racial discrimination across campus.
The penultimate officer was the Women’s Officer position. With there being only two candidates running – Helen Chandler-Wilde and Natalie James – Chandler-Wilde’s absence was notable. Pi has been told that the absence was due to Chandler-Wilde’s work experience placement, which is a very understandable reason for absence. Natalie James answered all the questions with passion and vigour. She took inspiration from her four years as part of the Women’s network. A notable focus was her desire to integrate many clubs and societies into the women’s network, and assist them in holding women’s liberation events. She also seemed enthusiastic about the women’s network having a more inclusive approach for LGBT+ women, women of minority ethnic backgrounds and transgender women.
Finally, the candidates for the Welfare and International Officer position took to the stage. Five of the candidates – all who were running – were present. The high number of people made it difficult for each person to come up with original ideas that had not already been said, but Tom Robinson appeared to be very zealous about his ideas. This was evident during the answering of a question about lockers where he said that he appreciated they were important, but that other problems around UCL were more pressing. All of the candidates seemed passionate about how they could tackle the role, with Emma Zurcher being particularly enthusiastic.
The final question to the candidates rounded off the event: Would you rather fight one Michael Arthur-sized duck, or one hundred duck-sized Michael Arthurs?
And that was that.