Abigail Mustard

Candidate for Vice President Activities

  • I am Passionate about the university and its societies.
  • I will improve awareness of smaller societies.
  • I will enhance university support given to committees.
  • I will increase access to employability opportunities.
  • I will build upon the successful fundraising schemes.

Why vote for me?

Who am I?

Hi, I’m Abi and I’m running for VP Activities. I am a third year Economics and Finance student and have been part of many societies throughout my time at the university including; Tennis, Pottery, Sign Language and Zumba. I love baking, reading and the occasional Oceana Wednesday. As I near the end of my time at the university, I want to use my experiences to improve our societies and give back to the university in an area I am passionate about.  

Why me?

I am running because I want to ensure everyone can benefit from the 220+ clubs and societies we have.  Being part of societies has enriched my university experience, both through making friends and increasing my employability, which is clearly a major benefit of attending university. It is important that all students have equal access to these opportunities whatever their circumstances. If I was elected, I would ensure all activities have access to funding opportunities and are equally recognised by the university.

 The current process for risk assessments and other forms done by committees is lengthy and confusing if I were to be elected, I would ensure communication with societies is clear, allowing them to focus more time on their activities. Having noticed that it has been hard for small societies to grow in members. I would like to make changes to the Website and social media pages to improve visibility to these societies. Further to this I will introduce committee coffee mornings to make it easier for societies to mix and organise events.

As a driven individual I always give 100% to my responsibilities, seen through my committee roles. I am currently President of the Women in Business society which has allowed me to see the current support given to societies by the university.  I joined the society in my first year where I was a member later becoming Social Media Officer which increased my media awareness and will help me communicate with students in this role. As President I am responsible for organising events and communicate with employers. This journey has given me insight to how societies work at the university and I have found several areas I would like to improve upon to increase society attendance and increase access to help for committees where needed.

Other aspects of the VP Activities role include; leading student volunteering and fundraising, something of particular interest for me. I believe as a university we are already successful in this and I would like to continue our efforts looking to increase the number of fundraising events to continue this. Alongside this I will develop employability for students through workshops and increasing society collaborations as I believe this is a key skill you should have before graduating.

 Thank you for your time I look forward to having the opportunity to represent you.


Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

What would you do to help promote the presence of the student media societies (The Edge, Wessex Scene, Surge and Susu TV)?

I believe we have on excellent range of student media available as a University, whilst there is current publicity on the website I would like to make them a bolder presence making sure they are part of the forefront of the Union as they are a voice of the students. I would also see what could be done to increase knowledge of the societies in first year, as from personal experience I did not know much about the societies until later on. I'd also like to chat to people from all the societies to find out the current issues specific to each of them and work out a plan to solve these.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 21/02/19 11:18

How do you plan on making more storage space in the union? space is already very difficult to find and there is no where to make new space without making less space for something else. Also how do you hope to better use the space we have a make sure it is fairly available to all societies?

Hi, thank you for you question. In response to this I went to have a look at the storage space in the Union to see what space is currently available and how best to manage it. I could see that things are crowded and the fact you have to walk through other activities to get your belongings is not ideal. I would have to find out how other areas of the union like the meeting rooms are currently used and if it would be effective to change one of these into a more dedicated storage space for societies. If this is not possible I would also like to look as what societies currently have which space and look at reallocation as well as a clearer timetable to know who’s in the room which should allow the current system to flow better.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 21/02/19 11:06

How do you anticipate committee coffee mornings will work? Experience would lead me to believe that members of societies already have enough going on in their lives to add to that an event where they are being encouraged to make friends that they could make themselves. If the draw for them is free coffee, where would the funding for this come from? Would it not be an unpopular move to divert cash from the already stretched society grant budget to an event that students might not want?

The structure of the coffee morning would be similar to ones that are already run on campus e.g. the postgraduate mornings. In which there would be a dedicated area for committees to meet with drinks as a bonus. It is not intended as a way to make friends (however this would be a bonus) but as a way to get to know more societies and help with organising collaborations, at present I feel many potential collaborations are missed due to people not knowing about other societies and missed communication on social media, further to this for collaborations already occurring it would provide a place for meetings which can be a nightmare to find during the year. It is also not intended to be a time consuming thing for individuals with it being one morning a month for a few hours depending on demand. Also having a member of Susu present to answer and queries would allow for improved communication between societies and the university. As for the fundraising I would not expect this to be an expensive activity, I would also be looking at the current grant budget to see where the money would be best allocated to benefit the most people. From initial discussions I’ve had positive feedback about the idea however I would make sure there was consultation with societies to check this event would be wanted by them. If you have any further questions please do ask or email them to me alm1g16@soton.ac.uk where I’d be happy to discuss this further.

This question was also only asked to AbigailAnswered by Abigail on 21/02/19 11:35

All of the VP Activities candidates have alluded to increasing storage space and/or activity space for societies. What makes you stand out - what would you bring to the table in particular that the other candidates wouldn’t?

The issue storage space is clearly of concern to a lot of students as all candidates have mentioned and something I will prioritise if I were to get the position. Whilst I cannot promise additional space as it would result in restrictions elsewhere, I will look at why union spaced are currently under-utilised and why it is so expensive for societies to hire certain venues. I am passionate about the position and would be approachable link between students and the university. I hope my manifesto reflects what I would like to achieve as VP but if you have any further questions please do ask or email me alm1g16@soton.ac.uk.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 21/02/19 12:24

I have a dream that one day, the university facilities will not have awful horrible scratchy thin toilet paper. I have already submitted a YouMakeChange petition about this and nothing happened. This is the most pressing issue to me as a voter so I want to know what you will do to make my dream a reality and improve the toilet paper on campus (especially in the library please). My vote depends on this.

Having asked all candidates it is clearly something you are passionate about, and most students I’m sure would agree. I suggest submitting a second You Make Change to get your point across incase it was missed the first time. Whilst I’m not sure it comes under the VP Activities role I will take all requests seriously and pass them on to the appropriate team to make sure they are dealt with.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 25/02/19 11:26

Can you knit or crochet? just curious Also show bake off in the cinema (provide cake) please? It comes back March 5th, 8pm, Channel 4 (also this day is pancake day) I know you won’t have won yet but it’s a good idea, will you implement this

Hi thank you for your question, Sadly I cannot knit or crochet, I have tried to learn many times but i'm going to blame my left handedness! If this is something you are interested in I can't currently find a knitting society but you can set up your own. I love the Bake Off idea, I think it would be great to have more non drinking events on campus which could be linked with a lot of societies. In regards to this happening March 5th I have no power over things being shown yet, however you can submit a You Make Change, or get in contact with Union Films who currently have events in the cinema to see if this is possible. If I was elected this would definitely be something I would try to implement. If you have any further ideas please get in touch on my facebook page @VoteAbiMustard or email me alm1g16@soton.ac.uk

This question was also only asked to AbigailAnswered by Abigail on 25/02/19 11:16

Most candidates have rightly identified that student societies chronically suffer from insufficient activity space. However, the focus appears to be on space within SUSU buildings. Many societies make use of University lecture spaces to accommodate their events, often misusing spaces simply because they have no better alternative. Most commonly, they tend to move all the furniture around and fail to restore it later, causing disruption to lectures. This leads to occasional tensions between societies and the University. What do you propose we do to ease these tensions and ensure that the spaces are available for all to enjoy?

Thank you for your question. You’re right so far that the focus has mainly been on the SUSU buildings as I think they are under-utilised and will require the most work in finding a solution. As far as I’m aware the majority of non sport societies book other rooms within the university to host events and as such rooms are often fully booked, resulting in societies using rooms that are not suitable for them. I hope by changing the use of some of the SUSU spaces and making them easier to access more events would be hosted there, reducing the issue you have pointed out of spaces being used as there’s no better alternative. Regarding the issue of moving furniture around, I know its sometimes rushed at the end of events and things get missed. I would send out periodic reminders to all societies to maintain a high standard when booking rooms and look at implementing a strike system where people report rooms that have been left in a mess and that specific society can get a warning, then not be able to book university rooms if it continues. This would be easy to implement as when booking a room you have to put your name and use so could be traced back to the offending societies. If you have any further comments please email them to me alm1g16@soton.ac.uk

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 28/02/19 11:50

How would you deal with any backlash from students who do not agree with a decision that you have made, even if students had been consulted in the decision-making process?

Thank you for your question, ultimately I hope all major decisions I make as VP would be student-led and in their best interests. Of course any change will have some disagreement especially when funding Is concerned. In order to reduce back lash I would post regular updates explaining what is going on and the benefits to students as well as having a weekly office hour to listen to students questions. I will also listen to students opinions if a majority disagree with a change I have made reversals of policies could occur. If you have any further questions please email me alm1g16@soton.ac.uk

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 28/02/19 12:11

As VP Activities, you'd be responsible for our incredible Performing Arts societies. My question is, how have you supported them to this date? And what performances have you seen this year?

Hi thanks for your question. I have to say I sadly am not gifted in any musical sense so am not part of any Performing Arts societies, however from chatting to friends I know there is a diverse range of societies who put on amazing performances. I went to see Princess Ida a couple of weeks ago, which showed the high level of performance at the university. Whilst I have not been in these societies I have heard there are issues specific to them such as the cost of hiring venues, which I am passionate about helping to fix. As VP Activities I would be equally committed to all societies and would have weekly drop in sessions for people to come and raise issues to me.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 04/03/19 14:15

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am an incredibly driven person and societies have been a big part of my university experience, along side this I have managed to maintain a 1st throughout my degree which I hope shows my good time management. I have been part of many extra curricular activities which has given me a lot of public speaking experience and made me confident in talking to large groups of people, which will be beneficial in the role. I have also helped to organise a mental health convention in my home town which gave me insight into event planning which will be useful as VP Activities. As a person i'm very chatty and open and really want to make a difference to somewhere that has been such a big part of my life for the last 3 years.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 04/03/19 14:22

The union has come under fire this year due to sabbatical staff being unprofessional on their work accounts. In your role you represent 24,000 student's views, not just your own. Would you be able to separate personal and professional social media and feelings?

Hi, thanks for your question. The union has come under fire a lot this year and has caused a level of disconnect between the sabbatical officers and students, I want to be a voice for all students and be approachable for all societies to counteract this. If I am elected it will be on the basis of my manifesto which will be the key focus of my role. As with any job I have had I will act professionally and in the best interest of the organisation I am employed by.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 06/03/19 12:01

How would you handle a disagreement with another sabbatical?

When spending so much time with the other sabbaticals it's inevitable that disagreements will happen as they do in everyday life. I think the best way to solve these is to talk it out. I'd sit down with them and see what the cause of the disagreement is and how it can be solved, as the sabbs are a team its so important that we all work as one throughout the year and make sure all disagreements are dealt with in a professional manner.

This question was also asked to Fiona Sunderland, Corin HollowayAnswered by Abigail on 06/03/19 11:40


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