Redbrick interviews the four Activities & Development Officer candidates. Re-Open Nominations is also a candidate.
State your name, age and course.
Natalia Orgonova: I’m 21 years old and studying a Masters in International Law, Crime, Justice and Human Rights.
George Hughes: I’m 23 and a Fourth Year Chemistry student.
Ben Chapman: I’m 21 and a final year Business Management student.
Alexander Moore: I’m 21 years old and a Third Year Archaeology and Ancient History student.
You’re running to be our next Activities and Development Officer. What does this role entail? What impact does the work of this Officer have upon the life of students here at Birmingham?
George: The role is to support student groups and societies and to ensure that the Guild is offering employability skills to students.
Ben: The Officer is in charge of the 230 student groups within the Guild, ensuring that they run smoothly and students enjoy their time in societies and learn skills.
Alex: To advise and support all of the student groups, enabling them to do more of the amazing activities and voluntary work that they do.
Natalia: This role is about coordinating student groups. I’d like to bring more collaboration between groups and to help them grow in popularity with students.
Tell me about your time here at the University, your involvement with the Guild and the journey that’s led you to entering the race to become our next Activities and Development Officer
Ben: It’s been great fun being involved with the Guild. I’ve worked at Joe’s bar since my first year. I’ve been on the committee of the largest student group on campus: Brumski with over 700 members.
Alex: Being in societies has been one of the main ways in which I’ve built my friend groups at university, and I plan most of my time around society activities as well as my university work.
Natalia: I am from Slovakia and did my undergraduate degree in France, and I did my year abroad last year here in Birmingham. I really liked getting involved in clubs like Dance Club Latino, where I was a committee member, and Windsurfing.
George: In my first year I had the mentality of joining absolutely everything, and I had a fantastic time. I was elected a Guild Councillor in my second year, and have been elected again for the third year now. I’m also a student staff member at the Guild.
Why have you stood for this position?
Alex: It comes down to seeing change within the Guild. In my leadership roles within the Guild, I started making a list of things I noticed that could do with improving, and now I’d like to make this happen.
Natalia: I’d like to make the societies bigger and improve some of the procedures which are not always easy. I want to make students more aware of the opportunities they have to make their life at university better.
George: It’s the position that lets me be involved in the most fun part of the Guild. There’s a whole range of people that get involved and I think that’s fantastic.
Ben: The Guild is impressive, but it could do with improvement. I would like to ensure that students get the support they need to promote their own clubs.
What would you like to achieve as Activities and Development Officer if you are indeed successful?
Natalia: I’d like to bring Guild finance and room bookings online as well as change the email platform to make messages easier to read.
George: I want to get more people engaged in the Guild. If it’s not an open and accessible place then we’re doing something wrong. I want to make societies easier to run and cut through the red tape.
Ben: I want students to enjoy their time at university, and so will introduce society of the week slots with discounts and free taster sessions. I also want to get sponsorship and networks with businesses to help funding of the clubs. I want to introduce a Vale societies fair.
Alex: My main aims are: to improve publicity tools available to societies; to speed up administrative processes and to create more ways for society members to use their skills to improve their employability.
How do you hope to achieve that?
George: I’d like to reintroduce volunteering with external providers. I’d introduce an online information hub to have all of the resources needed to run a society together in one place.
Ben: Early in the summer I want to establish links with corporate firms, such as Investment Society. Hopefully these links will enable students to get internships and grad schemes.
Alex: I would include an enhanced search feature on the Guild website, so students can search for societies based on categories like ‘outdoor’ and ‘relaxed’. I also want to create an online newsletter to publicise stories and events in societies.
Natalia: I’d like societies to bring Guild TV and BurnFM to Joe’s bar and enable societies to use the screens around the Guild and the University. I’d like to work with different schools and colleges to encourage them to promote society events to students.
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
Ben: I’ve got two years’ experience on the largest [student group] committee at Birmingham, and met loads of new people at Joe’s bar. I’m a people person and willing to listen to others’ ideas.
Alex: My experience as a member of and leader in societies gives me a unique perspective on how the Guild works and how the Guild doesn’t work. This drives me to want to get the best for all societies.
Natalia: I am involved in so many societies. I have been an International student and I’m now a Masters student. I’m part of a sports society and I feel like I could understand and build relations with students.
George: I have been a committee member and sat on the student groups executive – the volunteer-led committee which deals with disciplinary and funding for student groups. I have been a student staff member for two years now.
How do you think your time in office will compare to that of Wadim Wesolek the current Activities and Development Officer? What do you think has been his biggest achievement and biggest challenge this year so far?
Alex: I admire Wadim and the work that he’s done. His biggest achievement was the Give It a Go week, it was something different. His biggest challenge is that some of the things he set out in his manifesto are not going to be achieved by the end of his candidacy.
Natalia: I think his biggest achievement is yet to come, and that is the online room booking and finance systems which I would like to follow-up if it’s not done. I think he’s been very efficient, but I’d like to have more personal contact with different student groups.
George: A lot of my time in office will be the same, as similar events are run year on year. The Give it a Go fortnight was Wadim’s biggest achievement. The challenge has been room bookings, which has been bumpy because of the Guild’s restructure and staffing.
Ben: Wadim’s done an excellent job. He’s introduced Give It a Go week which has been great, I would combine this with my Society of the Week policy. I would try and get involved more actively by getting to know society members and committee leaders on a personal level.
Where could someone find out more about your campaign?
George: Log on to www.facebook/HughesADO where you’ll be able to find all my manifesto points and hopefully loads of pictures. There’ll be fliers and posters around campus but I’m not doing cardboard because I think it looks ugly.
Natalia: I’ve got a Facebook page: Nadia “Nutella” Organova for Activities and Development Officer and Twitter: @NutellaforADO and #nutsaboutUoB
Ben: I’ll be campaigning on campus and trying to meet as many people as possible during 25th February to the 6th March. I’ll be on Facebook and I’ll even be on Snapchat. Big Ben VPAD online and you’ll be able to see my policies on my Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
Alex: I’m on social media, Facebook.com/AlexforActivities and Twitter: @Alex4_Activity where I’ll be posting campaign updates. My blog is http://alexforactivities.tumblr.com/ which has all my manifesto points.