This year’s Guild Election hustings are taking place online with #GuildElections.
Students were able to put their questions to the three candidates for this year’s Education Officer candidates using #GuildElections. Izzy ‘Jenga’ Lenga, Afroze Zaidi-Jivraj and Joulie Axelithioti posted replies in under 140 characters between 1pm and 2pm this afternoon. Each questions was answered by all candidates, sometimes in separate tweets when one was not enough to explain fully.
It is thought that hosting the hustings online will increase student engagement, after previous year’s hustings have been notoriously under-attended by students not usually involved in Guild activities. Some hustings will take place online this year, with others taking place at various locations on campus.
The hustings kicked off with a question from the Guild of Students: ‘What’s the main education issue on campus for students at the moment?’. Afroze said it was the ‘attainment gap for students frm less advantaged backgrounds’. She also posited ‘the need to fight for free education + oppose marketisation of HE’. Izzy felt that ‘the main issue is the lack of study spaces’, citing the fact that ‘at any one time 60% of teaching space is unused’. By contrast, Joulie felt that ‘the rhythm of studies affects students’ wellbeing in ways that are not always obvious’ and did not expand further.
A Guild Councillor asked the candidates what they would do to make the campus or the Guild open for students outside of term time. Whilst Izzy put forward the idea of ‘an online system to book the available teaching spaces’, Joulie said she would ‘try and convince Joe’s for example to be more accessible’. For her part, Afroze said she will ‘aim to provide greater support for PG [Postgraduate] students.
Two questions put to the candidates by the Guild were: ‘how will you relate to ‘groups you don’t belong to or identify with?’ and ‘what do you think the [Student Rep] scheme’s strengths and weaknesses are?’
One student asked the candidates how the Officer would help students with compulsory lectures which conflict with religious observance.
Some humour was introduced with a quip from one student: ‘How would the Education Candidates respond to claims made by Pink Floyd that “we don’t need no education”?’. One the one hand, Afroze remarked that ‘eurocentrism of curriculum is one thing I aim to address’, whereas Joulie felt that ‘the right kind of education’ is when all stakeholders (including students) are involved. Izzy, for her part, is ‘running to represent all UoB students and address their academic concerns’.
The debate ended with the pertinent issue of extenuating circumstances, with each candidate offering their solutions for supporting students in their academic work when facing difficult personal situations.
However, it is unclear how many students were aware that these debates were taking place online. Doubts have also been raised since the removal of the face-to-face aspect of the hustings. ‘You can’t get to know what they’re like,’ commented a first year student, who explained that charisma is an important factor when it comes to deciding who to vote for.
A Storify version of all tweets and replies from the hustings is available online. Information on all the candidates, including their manifestos and video interviews are on the dedicated Guild Elections website.
The hustings for Women’s Officer and Welfare Officer will be taking place in the Beorma Bar on Tuesday 3rd March at 5pm. On the same day at 6pm, the hustings for Sport Officer will be hosted in the Vaughan Jeffreys Lecture Theatre in the Education Building. The Housing and Community hustings will see the candidates vying for votes in the Guild Council Chambers at 6pm also. In addition, Welfare hustings will be taking place online on Monday 2nd March between 1pm and 2pm on Twitter.
Thursday 26th February, 1pm – 2pm will be the Resources & Representation Officer Online Hustings. On the same day at 6pm will be the Student Groups MegaForum in the Guild Council Chambers, which will play host to the Activities & Development Hustings. Online hustings for this role will commence at 1pm for an hour on Thursday 5th March on Twitter: #GuildElections.
Housing and Community hustings will take place online on Tuesday 3rd March from 1pm on Twitter.
The Presidential debates which will take place on Friday 27th February, 6pm – 8pm in the Guild Council Chambers.