Ophelia Lai looks through the candidates’ manifestos for Education and Campaigns Officer
Are you feeling disempowered? Do you drift through university life as though in a Kafkaesque nightmare, unheard, unseen, unable to comprehend the opaque bureaucratic processes at work that confound all attempts at making student life bearable? Fear not! The chance has come to elect an Education and Campaigns Officer, whose job it is to represent your academic needs and “support student representation at all levels”.
This year, the candidates running for this position are, in no particular order, Wahida Samie, Vlad Kardapoltsev and Raquel Nunes Palmeira. Two goals unite all three candidates. The first is extending 24-hour library access—my, aren’t we a hardworking bunch? The second is capping—or in Raquel’s case, scrapping—tuition fees. This is a popular election promise, though details on how to achieve this remain to be seen.
Wahida Samie’s and Vlad Kardapoltsev’s manifestos converge on a number of academic aims, pushing for earlier release of exam timetables and better assessment feedback. The candidates propose a number of concrete, actionable goals that aim to improve the work environment for students, including library vending machines (Vlad) and more print credit (Wahida). Wahida proposes introducing more tutorials and seminars, which, though interesting, probably falls outside of ECO jurisdiction. Surely, this would depend on the availability of lecturers and teaching assistants, as well as the availability of funds to pay said lecturers and teaching assistants for their increased teaching hours. Given the dire pay situation in education, this seems unfeasible. Timetabling would also possibly be a bit of a headache if we were to increase seminars while at the same time keeping Wednesday afternoons free for students to partake in sports. We could of course combine this with Vlad’s idea to record all lectures, in which case, lectures can be rescheduled to Wednesday afternoons and missed. Clever time-saving, no?
Wahida and Vlad’s election platforms are considerably thinner on the “campaigns” part of the role, making vague promises to “encourage student activism” (Wahida) and increase “awareness of the inequality issues” (Vlad). Raquel Nunes Palmeira appears to be far stronger on this front, pledging support for a number of ongoing campaigns, from fossil fuel divestment to Justice for Cleaners. Her platform is the only expressly ideological one, a risky strategy that carries a certain appeal in the strength of its political stance, but could alienate student voters who either disagree with her or are simply wary of its ideological content. That Raquel has supporters who are involved in other relevant campaigns such as Fossil Free UCL and UCLU Amnesty International Anti-Slavery (a notable absence in the manifestos of the other two candidates) suggests a genuine commitment to her causes, but the lack of a detailed action plan to achieve such lofty goals could play poorly with voters.
The lack of elaboration on how the candidates hope to fulfil their election promises can be seen in the manifestos of all three candidates. To be fair, a one-page poster hardly leaves sufficient room for a thorough articulation of aims and aspirations. Seeing as the elections page on the UCLU website provides no contact details, perhaps the best way to get some answers would be to waylay the candidates should you see them on campus. Having watched Vlad’s campaign video, I deduce an intense attachment to the Portico steps. As for the other candidates, I shall have to leave you to your deductive capabilities in the search for their whereabouts.
A full list of manifestos can be found here.