Green initiatives are exceptionally important at the moment, especially due to the looming threats that are coming with climate change. Maintaining a sustainable environment is no easy task, and requires careful research, planning, and execution for it to be successful. As a physics student, I have studied sustainability as a part of my degree, and found that there are relatively, simple things that students can do to be more sustainable. What must be done is to make sure students are aware of what they are able to do to positively impact the environment. As president, I will be liaising closely with the sustainability team at the university to ensure and challenge policies brought forward for the union and the university to be more sustainable. Whilst I have studied aspects of sustainability as a part of my degree, I haven’t conducted any formal research in environmental and climate science. However, as a part of my degree I have undertaken a research project, and feel confident I will be able to conduct research into climate science and environmental issues.
Candidate for Union President
- Engage with student population, hold surgeries
- Provide students with mental health support
- Provide support and awareness for people suffering alcohol misuse
- Provide appropriate support for victims of sexual abuse
- Continue engagement with external charities
Why vote for me?
Southampton University Students Union Presidency Nomination
By George Fairweather
Hi I’m George Fairweather. I’m a 3rd year physics student running for Union President.
I’ve been a keen player of badminton and football since I’ve been at Southampton, making many great friends in the process. I’ve also enjoyed social events during my time as a fresher and other events provided by societies.
However, I’m not all about sports; I am passionate about people’s emotional wellbeing, and having experienced difficult times myself, I can empathise and know how challenging the student experience can be. I have always been open with my friends about my problems, and can understand the importance of friendship and support at university.
I believe it is crucial for students to have the emotional support they need so they can have a fulfilling academic and social experience while at Southampton. From personal experience, when the right support has been provided, I have had a positive experience.
While the Union has achieved many things I believe there is room for improvement and I would like to improve the experience for all students. If I’m elected my aims are:
- To engage with the student population, and hold surgeries on a regular basis to discuss individual student issues
- To make sure the union is actively communicating with the student body
- To provide students with mental health support via trained practitioners that have diagnostic capabilities
- To provide support and awareness for people suffering from alcohol misuse, including 1-to-1 support as well as integrating an Alcoholics Anonymous support group into the union
- To provide appropriate support for victims of sexual abuse
- To continue engagement with external charities
- Trial meal deals at The Shop
My physics degree has turned me into a hard-working problem solver, and if I am elected, I will be determined to complete these aims as President for the benefit of all students.
Questions & Answers Ask me a Question
My aim to improve student wellbeing has four main aspects. Aspect 1 – Student Support. I aim to make sure the union has employed trained clinical psychologists/therapists that are able to provide appropriate mental health support and diagnostics. It is important that when someone is suffering a mental health problem that they receive swift support and if appropriate a diagnosis. If you break your leg, you don’t wait 6 months to get it fixed, so why should you wait 6 months or more for mental health support? Aspect 2 – Social Life. Everyone needs a social life, whether you like it or not. Humans need to be connected with each other, and have a strong group of friends. Speaking from experience, when this isn’t present, it can drastically affect a person’s health and wellbeing. By making sure students are connected and socialising, which must include social activities that bring students together, reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, and create strong bonds of friendship, will help improve overall student wellbeing. Aspect 3 – University Liaison. Identify where the university are falling short on student wellbeing and offering suggestions for improvement in those affected areas. Aspect 4 – External Liaison. Working with external bodies to provide support, funding, and resources to assist the union in improving student wellbeing.
I would agree that these are core aspects of the presidential role. However, based on the previous election turnout of approximately 19%, it seems to me that most students are not that engaged with SUSU, or at least engaged enough to vote in the elections. One of the ways I intend to improve engagement, and one that I don’t believe has been done before, would be to hold surgeries with students, where they can discuss issues they are having with the union, the university, or other aspects of student life. On top of this, whilst the union does currently communicate quite actively, for the most part I feel it isn’t read by a large part of the student population. Further to this, there can be mixed messages between sabbatical officers, making SUSU policy somewhat hazy. To improve this, I would make sure that all sabbatical officers are creating a unified voice, that won’t be misinterpreted, that communications between SUSU and students are clear and encourage engagement.
This question was also only asked to GeorgeAnswered by George on 20/02/19 17:18
I hear you. It is very disappointing that your concern wasn’t taken seriously by the union. I too am fed up of using toilet paper that feels like recycled sand paper. I don’t see why it isn’t possible to at least have higher quality toilet paper in the toilets, but there may be other factors that affect why we use shoddy toilet paper. I would need to talk with the team responsible for ordering this toilet paper to see if an upgrade is viable. If I am elected, this will be one of my first items to clear up as president. Your concern is an example of something that can be brought up in surgeries I plan to do if elected.
Rebuilding trust between the student body and the union is extremely important, but is no easy task to solve given the controversial actions of previous presidents. For me, there are two things that can be done to improve student and union relations. Firstly, proper engagement with the students to make them feel involved in the decisions the union is making. One of my policies is to hold surgeries so that students can come to me with their issues, and I can address them either myself, or take their concerns to the appropriate person/team. Secondly, there needs to be a clear, easy to understand code of ethics that the sabbatical officers must follow, and not act upon personal agendas. This code of ethics will be available to the student body, and can be used by the students to hold the union to account.
While I agree there is a cost involved with having clinical psychologists/therapists available, having researched it, I believe the cost can be accommodated by the union. In addition to this, I would be creating new ways for students to meet up and socialise with each other. Loneliness has a big impact on mental health, and making sure students are able to get a supportive social life is critical. The way the union is engaging with students is going to be very different, so there will be more avenues to seek help before a serious problem arises.
This question was also only asked to GeorgeAnswered by George on 27/02/19 13:01
You are right; I am passionate about student’s wellbeing. I am also passionate about the role of the students union. Over the last few years, engagement with the student body has been very disappointing and lacking. I feel like the union behaves more like a commercial enterprise that just wants to sell you stuff instead of actually engaging and supporting students. Just to clarify, I don’t have anything against commercial activities the union participates in, it needs to get revenue from somewhere, I feel though the commercial aspect of the union has become the focus, and as such is failing to address and represent student issues. If I am elected president, I will be moving the focus back onto the students. One of my ideas is to conduct surgeries so that students can come to me with their issues they may be experiencing with the university/union/student life, and I will be able to either address the issue directly, or forward it to the appropriate person/team. I also believe that the union needs to be in a state of constant feedback. As such, the union must provide an easy way for students to give feedback about the running of the union/university and I can try and action change within these bodies.
This question was also only asked to GeorgeAnswered by George on 27/02/19 13:31
Students in halls of residence face a variety of issues, from faulty equipment and poor laundry facilities, to loneliness and isolation. I intend to tackle these issues by talking with students about their problems, and working closely with student life to remedy these issues. I will also being aiming to provide mental health services within the union so that any halls of resident student can get the appropriate support they need as soon as possible.
I would deal with the backlash by listening to the grievances of the students who do not agree with the decision I have made. It's not possible to please everyone, but where there is a justified reason for their negative reaction, there thoughts should be heard and if appropriate, their views taken into consideration. It would be my intention during the consultation process all views would have been heard and addressed, so any back lash would be minimal.
I don’t think it is just the president’s job to hold the VPs to account on their manifesto. I believe the students should also be able to hold all elected Sabbs accountable for their manifesto policies. On my part, I can make sure a policy of openness is applied to the union, so that students are able to find out what the Sabbs have been working on, how effective it has been, and future outlooks for projects. This way the student body is able to be informed about what the Sabbs have been doing, and whether the Sabbs need to be held to account. On top of this, within the union, the needs to be a framework for students to be able to have the power to hold the Sabbs to account. How this would look, I am not sure, and I believe extensive consultation with students and societies is needed before we could create such a framework. To address how I would assist the Sabbs, I would be providing whatever resources are available to the president, and where needed try and pressure the university to provide these resources if they are outside of the remit of the president.
I will be a leader who fights for the injustices that students face. I will be a leader who students can come to with their issues, and have them heard. I will be a leader that holds the university to account, and call them out on their short comings. I will be a leader that works with the other Sabbs to get the best out of them. This is the kind of leader I will be.
I'm offering real change that benefits the students, and I have the tenacity to make this change happen. Unlike the other candidates, I am offering bold solutions that tackle real student issues.
No, I do not believe SUSU will be in the top 5 students' unions by 2020, but that won't stop me from trying. With the changes I am offering students in my manifesto, I believe it would be able to boost SUSU up the rankings, and also restore the faith that the students have in the students union. By reengaging with the students, giving them a voice, supporting them through tough times, and addressing their needs I believe this will push us closer to the top 5.
George has not spent any of their budget yet