Oli "Where's Wally" Coles
Vice President Student Communities
Hi, my name is Oli Coles, and I am running to be your Vice President Student Communities. This is a new role within SUSU, one that merges VP Winchester and Sites with the Communities aspect of the current VP Welfare and Communities, as well receiving the JCR remit from VP Student Engagement. This position therefore focuses on all students living in Halls, as well as first years in Private Rented accommodation; all Post graduate, International and Mature students; and all students who study at Sites, be it Southampton General Hospital, Winchester School of Art, the National Oceanographic Centre, or the smaller sites outside Southampton.
In my opinion, the aim of the VP Communities is to make sure that every single student within these smaller communities is fully supported, and receives all the same benefits and opportunities that students at the main Highfield Campus receive.
The three areas of SUSU which I aim to improve and support are:
How am I going to achieve this?
My aim for each Halls of residence is to improve the sense of community within each Hall. This is not just for the students who currently live there, but for students who have moved out, including alumni, based on the mantra that a Hall isn’t just for first year, but for Life. Here are just a few of the ways I plan to do this:
- Each Hall has a common room located within it, and I believe that these common rooms should become the central hub of all activity within Halls. I will aim to talk to current residents to discover exactly what they want out of their common rooms, as well as discussing with Student Services what can be done to make sure they are respected.
- Installing Wi Fi within each common room: one way to guarantee that residents congregate in their common rooms is to make it the only place in Halls where Wi Fi is freely available.
- Increase the range of activities in Halls: currently there is a burst of activities at Halls during Freshers’ Fortnight, and then again at the start of Semester 2. My aim would be for more regular activities throughout the year, with the resident’s input vital to the organisation of these activities.
Each Hall, as well as Private Rented, has a JCR, who run campaigns, organise intre mural sports team funding, as well as run Freshers’ Fortnight for the new residents each year. JCRs are a key component of improving the community feel of Halls, and here are my views on how they can be better supported:
- Instigate a review into the composition of the JCR. Having worked with the JCRs for many years, through my positions on JCR Committee, and as a former Monte JCR President, I feel that although they do a very good job at the moment, with the right positions and support they can do an excellent job, with increased communication, and an increase in successful campaigns and events.
- Move JCR Elections and Training. Currently JCR elections are held in the middle of November, and their training is split in two halves over Christmas. This isn’t ideal. I believe that Elections should be held earlier, in the final week of October, so training can occur before Christmas, and JCRs are better prepared for Refreshers’ Week.
- Increase and promote the links between JCRs and RAG. Although there is a RAG Officer on the JCR, I don’t believe their potential is being fully utilised. There are over 6,000 students which the JCRs look after, and I believe creating an Inter-JCR competition could only raise more money for RAG.
- Links between SUSU Media and JCRs. With 6,000 students living in and around Halls, there is much potential to engage even more students in SUSU Media. I will work to bring workshops into Halls and hold taster days for each of the individual media departments.
Many students do not get the chance to experience the benefits of studying on Highfield or Avenue Campus. Here are a few ways in which I believe I can increase their engagement with SUSU:
- Improve Transport Links between Winchester and Highfield. Currently there isn’t a regular, direct transport link between Highfield and Winchester. I will lobby Uni-Link to either extend, or create a route which will allow regular travel between Highfield and Winchester.
- Investigate the cost of buses to NOC and SGH during busy periods. During rush hour, journeys to Sites can take twice and long. I will investigate the cost of running direct buses to these sites, keeping journey times to a minimum.
- Increase the AU’s presence at Sites – whether this by having smaller AU teams utilise facilities at sites for training, or providing transport for those site students who wish to take part in AU sports at Highfield. I will make the AU accessible for all students, regardless of where they study. This is particularly important for those students who finish lectures at 1pm on a Wednesday, and then have to travel to training at Wide Lane.
- Increase the presence of Societies, RAG and SUSU Media at Sites.
- Work with NOCSOC and increase their input into NOC matters. This would be similar to the way that MedSoc and the JCRs work. It would allow students at the NOC to have more of an input to campaigns and activities which happen there, and have a place where issues can be heard and resolved.
From experience, I have found that sometimes International, Post grad and Mature students sometimes find it hard to integrate themselves within other communities within the University. My aim is to not only increase the activities which they can enjoy within their own communities but increase the activities which will allow them to better mix with other students within the University. Here are just a few ways to explain how I plan to do this:
- Increase ‘Coffee and Cake’ Mornings across all sites. Currently SUSU organise a very successful Coffee and Cake morning on a Thursday in The Bridge. Although this is open to all Post grad students, currently it is tough for any students at Sites to get to it. I believe that a morning such as this should be held regularly across all Sites.
- Organise and implement a Post grad Welcome Week. This will be a cross campus Welcome Week, to increase the inter-mingling of faculties, so that Post grads aren’t just confined to meeting and socialising with students in their own faculties.
- Investigate Post Grad working areas across the University. I believe that all Post grad students should have suitable working areas for their studies, and I will investigate whether this is true, and by using student feedback, optimise the locations to fit their needs perfectly, even if all they want is just a free mug for their coffee!
- Implement an ‘International Freshers Week’ in Halls. This would complement the week that currently happens on Highfield, in the same way that the JCR’s Freshers’ Fortnight compliments the SUSU one.
- Encourage a greater community feel with International students. This will work to make more of a focus on social events revolved around foods and different cultures.
Why should you vote for me?
I believe that I am the best candidate for this position. I have studied Sports Studies at the University of Southampton for over three years, and have thoroughly enjoyed my time here over the years. I have been involved with many aspects of SUSU, both voluntary and paid work, and feel the experience and the skills I have gained will help me achieve the best I can for all student communities next year.
I think of myself as a fun and outgoing person who is easy to talk to. If I set myself an objective, I will work as hard as I can until I have achieved it. I understand that I have made a lot of promises in my Manifesto, but I know with my work ethic that I can achieve all of them in my year in office. If you elect me, I will be an officer who listens to student feedback and input; I will, after all, be representing you.
My SUSU CV
Monte JCR President
|JCR Committee||2010-11 & 2012-13|
| 2010-11 & 2012-13|
Monte Bar Supervisor
Monte Bar Manager
Bridge Team Leader
If you have any other questions about my campaign, or want any further information on anymore of my campaign pledges, please feel free to find me on twitter (@oli_coles) or on Facebook (Oli Coles for VP Communities).
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please Vote Oli Coles for VP Communities!
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