As part of our Elections 2014 coverage, the Soton Tab has been keeping up with all the sabbatical candidates and quizzing them with our own brand of questioning. This instalment features Shaun Coston, Sophia D’Angelico David Heard – the candidates running for VP Education.
Why are you the best representation for students?
David: I believe that I am the best representative for students because I always want to see practical solutions to any problem, allowing for effective negotiation and tangible results. My experience as a rugby union referee allows me to be decisive and assertive in expressing difficult opinions.
Sophia: I was a course rep for first three years of my degree and now in my final year I am Academic President of modern languages, so I have plenty of experience of the course rep system! Representing Southampton students’ educational needs is something I am really passionate about and I’m looking forward to showing it during campaigning!!
Shaun: I feel that I am best suited to represent the students because I, like most students, have had little involvement with positions of power in SUSU and I represent the average student who has had to go through a myriad of problems that SUSU has not managed to solve. I will bring a fresh set of eyes on a series of old problems.
How will you give the same level of support to students on satellite campuses as to the main campus?
David: The other campuses do have unique challenges. The only thing I can promise is to work with VP Communities in ensuring that they are represented. One practical measure would be to pay the transport costs for the Art Department’s representatives to attend their meetings within the Business and Law faculty.
Sophia: I plan to run surveys gauge whether students on satellite campuses are aware of all the facilities and opportunities available to them and whether they feel fully supported and represented academically, in order to work out which areas need improvement. I plan to make sure that ALL academic campaigns are launched on ALL campuses, not just on Highfield!
Shaun: I think that the satellite campuses have been under-represented for far too long and they form an important part in my plans to expand the reach of SUSU to more people. I think more needs to be done on the issue of representation and the introduction of online forums to provide feedback the satellite campuses can be more equally involved.
What will you do to the current feedback system that hasn’t been done before?
David: Feedback is a long standing issue. Most things have been done. We must convince the University that without timely, high quality feedback, we can’t improve. If late feedback on a previous assignment became grounds for appeal if similar mistakes are made on your current assignment, then the University might listen.
Sophia: I will put in place a system where departments will have to justify why feedback is late. I plan to set up frameworks in which faculty officers and academic presidents will be encouraged and supported to challenge staff as to why feedback is late.
Shaun: Both feedback to students and feedback given from students need to be improved. The feedback to students needs to be faster and more personal and I’d work closer with lecturers to make this happen. Students should be given more opportunities to give feedback which is why I would set up and publicize an anonymous online forum to give feedback.
How will you improve the communication and relationship of students and staff?
David: With regards to the general relationship between staff and students I am a great believer in face to face meetings. One thing I would love to organise would be a series of open forums with university staff that any student could go to and express their opinions and concerns directly.
Sophia: I will make sure that Student Staff Liaison Committee meetings are opportunities for open and discussion and building staff student relations. I will also to encourage academic staff to publicise their offices hours better so students feel they can meet with their lecturers on a one-to-one basis when they need it!
Shaun: The dialogue between staff and students is flawed in that not all students are being properly represented. I am going to improve communication by firstly, developing the personal tutor system by increasing the amount of contact time between tutors and students. I also want to change focus groups, with the chance of winning prizes, to better represent all students.
With regards to the recent proposal for a 24 hour library, how do you feel you could further improve Hartley for all students?
David: With a 24 hour library comes the need for more amenities. I think there should be a broader and healthier selection of snacks from the vending machines near the Cafe. Alternatively, there should be a means of heating food there for when the cafe is closed.
Sophia: If the library does become 24 hour then I would look into whether the café within Hartley would also be able to extend its hours and whether the safety bus would be able to run further in to the night. I also would look into have the toilets in Hartley cleaned more often. At the moment they are only cleaned twice a day during the week, perhaps a third time is necessary, particularly during exam season!
Shaun: I think the 24 hour library is positive step. My work on the library would focus on more space for student around exam times. I would create space by removing the gallery from the 4th floor as well as looking into whether the space used to re-shelf returned books could be given to students.
What is your most embarrassing University moment?
David: I once attempted a front somersault in trampoline club, but I completely got it wrong and almost landed on my head as a result. Would have been ok if it wasn’t for the loud swear word as I realised I was going literally head over heels.
Sophia: Probably managing to FACEPLANT while crossing in front of the lecturer’s podium in order to get to my seat! It was 5 minutes into the lecture so EVERYONE was watching!!! Everyone was just in hysterics. I was MORTIFIED.
Shaun: Not sure but getting totally smashed on the last night in halls and accidentally lent on the fire alarm at 3am before everyone had to drive home in the morning is up there (everyone loved me for that).
Which Friends character best describes you? Why?
David: Ross. He may seem out of touch or a little nerdy, but he is committed to those he has promised to support. His willingness to save Rachel from embarrassment by being her prom date, despite the personal embarrassment it actually caused shows how far he will go to help others.
Sophia: Probably Monica, I’m obsessed with being a good host and trying to feed anyone at all that enters my house! Not to mention I am a real stickler for details!!
Shaun: Probably Chandler. Chandler or Ross. I’m going to go for Chandler, I’m personable, witty, smart (and really humble :P).
Jesters or Sobar?
Sophia: JESTERS! The palace of dreams – WITHOUT A DOUBT.
Shaun: Jesters!!!! Jesters any day of the week, its not even close.