Evelyn Hayes

Candidate for Vice President Education and Democracy

  • Committing to regular Student Forums which lead to tangible change
  • Ensuring that facilities are consistent across all Highfield and beyond
  • Working to achieve free printing and widespread lecture recording
  • Enhancing visibility of representatives
  • Prioritising Postgraduates

Why vote for me?

My name is Evelyn Hayes and I’m running for the new position of VP Education and Democracy. Throughout my time at Southampton, I have been involved in student representation, ranging from a Halls’ Committee to my current roles as English Department President and an Education Zone Open Place. I want to make real change to student experience, and this new role provides a great opportunity to do so. 

Prioritising Student Consultation:

Increase the frequency of Student Forums - The University appeared responsive to issues raised in this forum and student engagement was good, but they appear to have become less prioritised this academic year. Last November’s forum failed to materialise and plans are non-existent for Semester 2, so I would encourage the University to commit to a minimum of one forum per semester moving forward. Although the issues raised the institution’s initial plans were publicised, I would push for longer-term progress reviews to be published to ensure accountability for these projects’ completion.  

Transparency - With the next academic year seeing the adjustment to an interim Vice Chancellor and continuing process of selecting a permanent candidate, I would push the university to consult students and provide transparency regarding their processes of selection and salary review.

Enhancing Study:

Ensuring the consistency of facilities - The Centenary Building’s launch holds exciting prospects for Highfield’s study spaces, but some buildings still fail to provide basic lecture-recording facilities or sufficient ventilation. Whilst working to ensure that new buildings meet students’ needs across the University, I would also push for updates to be made so that all buildings meet minimum requirements.

Digital developments - Although many departments consistently record lecturers now, there are still gaps. I would introduce an opt-out policy to increase uptake and work with staff where possible to address their reticence. Printing has seen brilliant improvements in the past year, but I would push for the possibility free printing.

Beyond Highfield - Lots of work has been done recently to improve study spaces on Highfield Campus, but other campuses are comparatively neglected. I would work to ensure that facilities at sites such as Avenue, WSA, the University Hospital and NOCS receive adequate attention to meet students’ needs for a variety of flexible study and chill spaces.

Amplifying Representation:

Enhancing Visibility of Representatives - Many students are still unaware of the work that their Course Reps do. I’d work to close the feedback loops to publicise the brilliant work that our student representatives do and create a continuous dialogue between students and their representatives. I would also work to strengthen the relationship between representatives in different departments to encourage the sharing of best practise.

Representing Postgraduates - With the representation of Postgraduates being brought under the responsibility of VP Education and Democracy, this year provides an opportunity to cohesively address the issues they have faced for several years. I would work to provide comprehensive training and employability opportunities, as well as supporting welfare and providing community-enhancing events.

Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

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.

Hi - thank you for your question. I completely agree that the time things can take to change can be frustrating. The facilities provided in study spaces and the way SUSU handles student feedback are really important parts of my manifesto. However, having reviewed the responses you received (available at https://www.susu.org/you-make-change/1040 if anyone else wants to take a look), your petition has prompted some action. New toilet paper is currently being trialled by Estates and Facilities and, unfortunately, a certain amount of time needs to pass so that they can review whether this would provide a better alternative in the long run. I think Sam has done a good job of keeping you up-to-date with the progress of this suggestion, but it's not one of those things that can change overnight. Hopefully, this issue will have been resolved by the time the new sabbaticals assume their roles in July. If that has not happened, though, and I am elected, I will certainly review the progress made and see what can be done as quickly as possible, whilst keeping you in the loop.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 08:25

You mention you have experience through your role as an Education Zone Open Place member. However, a brief flick through the minutes of the committee meetings shows that you have been 'Absent without apologies' for the previous two meetings. Why should I vote for you to be a Sabbatical Officer if you cannot attend (or send apologies) for one meeting every few months?

Hi - thank you for your question, this something that has frustrated and concerned me too. Unfortunately, I have been prevented from attending both of the past two meetings due to on-the-day changes in my work schedule. Like a lot of students, I have to work to fund my studies and I don't always have much control over my hours. On the whole, I have been able to minimise the effect this has had on my volunteering and have always maintained my commitments as English Department President and, previously, as a course rep. If elected, this would not affect my performance as a Sabbatical Officer. The full-time nature of these roles would allow me to dedicate 100% of my attention to making positive change at Southampton, instead of having to balance my contribution with work, studying and other commitments. Despite my inability to attend the past two meetings, I have still made the most of my position on the Education Zone. I have always read the officer reports and kept up-to-date with the ongoing issues this committee addresses, which has informed my approach to the English Department President role. I hope this allays your concerns.

This question was also only asked to EvelynAnswered by Evelyn on 08/03/19 12:07

Out of all of the conversations gripping Higher Education at the moment, the concept of "value-for-money" is certainly an interesting one. What does "value-for-money" at Southampton look like to you, and how will you (as VP Education & Democracy) work towards it?

Hi - thank you for your question. This has been an concept that I've been thinking about for a while now and one that would certainly inform my approach to the role of VP Education & Democracy. I think it's really hard to apply to idea of "value-for-money" to something that costs as much as £9000 (minimum) per year. We might consider breaking down these costs to work out how much we're paying per hour of teaching, but this isn't how our money actually gets used. The reality is that tuition fees aren't evenly split between faculties according to the number of students they teach and it's very difficult to work out where money is going. This is one of the main reasons why transparency features in my manifesto and broader campaigning. We need to be lobbying the University to give a comprehensive break-down of how tuition fees are spent and transparency surrounding how these decisions are made. It is only by securing this that we can hold the University accountable for where tuition fees are going. If elected, I would push for student input in this, or at least to have students involved in the conversations taking place surrounding the allocation of funding. Value for money will come from tuition fees being used in a way that reflects students' best interests and I hope I'll be able to work towards achieving that in the year ahead.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 12:57

Lecture capture (AKA recorded lectures) are becoming more and more common at Southampton, but there has been little appetite for a universal policy on it. What are your thoughts on lecture capture, and how would you like to see it used at the University?

Hi - thank you for your question. I think students are relatively unanimous in viewing lecture recording as a great resource, both as a revision tool and to aid those who are unable to attend a lecture. It has been my experience as English Department President, and in talking to representatives from across the university, that lecturers are generally willing to make lecture recordings available if students make it clear that they find this option beneficial. However, there are some staff who remain reticent due to issues surrounding the ownership of their intellectual material or concerns about attendance. To reflect this, if elected, my approach to lecture recording would be two-fold. Firstly, I want to explore the option of a universal opt-out policy across the university. Where the current system allows lecturers to record their sessions *if* they choose to, I want to push for a system which would assume all staff will be recording their lectures, unless they decide not to. If this worked, it could vastly increase the proportion of lectures being recorded and really help students who struggle to get to lectures or who find listening again to be a useful resource. Secondly, I would look at ways that SUSU could address the concerns some staff have around lecture recordings, perhaps by running research-based sessions to demonstrate their benefits. Of course, introducing universal policy can be a very difficult task and I appreciate the challenges it would pose, but I am determined to create a system that allows students to make the most of their contact hours.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 12:28

You have policies to reduce the cost of printing but how do you intend to finance this seeing as the university is going through budget cuts and fairly compensating students would require hundreds of thousands of pound to be spend? Also how do you intend to push this policy through when in the past it has been tried and has failed, what are you going to do different to the streams of people who promise the same thing

Hi - thanks for your question, I'm really glad to be able to address this issue. I understand that this policy does seem ambitious and optimistic. However, it has worked at other universities and doesn't always require extensive investment from the Union or University. I have recently been looking into the free printing offer that is available at Portsmouth (for which there are also equivalents at many other universities) and that's certainly a model that I want to look into more. They use a printing company that offers free printing in exchange for advertising and, although I don't think that's an offer that would work 100% of the time, it could significantly decrease printing costs for students on a day-to-day basis. The company they use even claims that "hosts" (businesses that use their printers) could earn from this. Although I'm a little sceptical about that claim, it's a far cry from spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to introduce this offer. If elected, I would look into this offer much more and present it to students to establish whether or not this is something that the student body is interested in. If this was positive, I'd move to introduce this offer just in the Union building and, after a period of time, would carry out a review of the uptake and whether this would be sustainable to introduce in other parts of the university. I'm aware that the idea of free printing seems like a policy that is too good to be true. However, I genuinely think it could be achievable, especially if we consult with other universities about what has and hasn't worked for them. It would take time and a lot of work, but I'm determined to make this a reality for students at Southampton.

This question was also asked to Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 10:50

One of your policies is to focus more on postgraduate students, but you immediately follow that up by saying that you want to introduce training, career opportunities, and community events. This seems to be a misunderstanding of what postgrads generally expect from a union, and generally the reason posgrads avoid SUSU is because it's viewed as little more than a social space. What would you do to represent postgraduate students' interest, and how would you address PGRs' clear preference for UCU on that front?

Hi - thank you for your question. The conversations I have been having with postgraduates across the past couple of weeks of campaigning have made it clear to me that, as with undergraduates, there is no cookie-cutter ideal of what postgraduates want from the union. There seems to be a real range of what students would find beneficial and my first priority in representing postgraduate students' interests would be to ascertain how we can address these varied preferences and concerns. I would, of course, work with the Postgraduate Committee and make the most of their experience in representing postgrads to work on providing representation that reflects students' concerns. One of the ideas that I have spoken about in recent weeks is the possibility of combining social events with support for postgrads, to foster the sense of community that many find sorely lacking whilst making these spaces useful (since purely social events have historically not had much uptake). However, my approach would, first and foremost, be student-led. I would aim to spend as much time as possible during the summer, when undergraduates aren't around, to have conversations with postgrads and work out what they want most from SUSU. I think it would be unwise to seek to provide a pseudo-UCU for postgrads. UCU provides a space and community for academics which the demographic of SUSU's members probably cannot provide. However, there are certainly still gaps the SUSU can address and those would be my priority if elected.

This question was also only asked to EvelynAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 20:34

In your manifesto, you talk about lobbying the University to update teaching spaces to meet "minimum requirements", but you stop short of naming the actual changes you'd like to see made. Could you please describe the requirements you consider to be essential?

Hi - thank you for your question. These minimum requirements refer primarily to the issues with lecture recording facilities and suitable ventilation mentioned in my manifesto. There are other improvements I would like to see in teaching spaces, such as consistent availability to plug sockets across all buildings and better training for staff, so that they can use the digital resources available with confidence. However, there is little point in staff receiving guidance in how to use these facilities if the minimum requirements of actually being able to record lectures isn't possible in some classrooms, or if students are prevented from dedicating their full attention to the teaching by the temperature and stuffiness of classrooms. These are not issues that are difficult to solve; they are certainly not the most ambitious in my manifesto. However, they can make a real difference to students' day-to-day experience of teaching at Southampton and allow us to make the most of contact hours. I hope that helps to clarify.

This question was also only asked to EvelynAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 09:54

The focus of all candidates has been exclusively on the remit of the old VP Education role. But SUSU is currently going through a democratic crisis. Elections engagement is dropping from year to year. AGMs, once bustling events with hundreds of people in them, have declined to a handful of people hidden away in the most remote corner of the Café. If elected, it will be your job to fix this. What will you do?

Hi - thank you for your question. I agree that there has been a tendency to focus more on the Education aspect of this combined role, but since the split is 80% Education and 20% Democracy I think that simply reflects what this role is going to be. However, it is unfair to say that all candidates have focused *exclusively* on the Education aspect, since my manifesto explicitly addresses the Democracy responsibilities under the headings which commit to "prioritising student consultation" and "amplifying representation". Unfortunately, the 500 word limit on manifestos has meant that I haven't been able to cover all of my plans in this format. The more I speak to students during this campaign period, the clearer it becomes that many students don't know who the sabbatical officers are or what they do, let alone the array of volunteers who comprise the representation structures. If elected, one of my priorities will be to create better publicity surrounding this, both in an ongoing way on the SUSU website and in introducing representatives and what they do to new students. I will also focus on how we can better publicise the impact of student feedback, so that students can see that engagement with democratic processes genuinely can affect and improve their University experience. If you'd like to find out more about how I'm planning to address these issues (which I'm certainly concerned about, too), check out my interview with Surge Radio (https://bit.ly/2tUtCnM) in which I speak in a bit more detail about my plans to increase engagement with SUSU's democratic processes.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 10:38

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?

Hi - thanks for your question. At times, backlash is inevitable. The sabbatical officers have to make some difficult decisions and it's impossible to give every student what they want all of the time. However, if elected, I'd work to ensure that the processes of consulting students include as many people as possible. The more students we can get involved in these processes, the more representative the decisions made at SUSU will be. I'd seek to create simple surveys in which students could express their stance on issues in just a minute or two and, if we were able to encourage engagement with these, they would provide the Union with statistics to back up the decisions being made. It would then become much easier for me to deal with backlash from students who disagree with the decisions made. I'd be able to show them the proportion of students who were in favour of the decisions and then move on from that to discuss their concerns and work towards ways in which these decisions could be made to work for them.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 09:47

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Ambition and persistence. Over the course of campaigning, some other candidates have expressed scepticism that the sabbatical officers have any real power to make change within their year-long tenure. I’m aware that there are some issues that sabbatical officers have been trying to push through for years and that there are obstacles slowing things down. However, I don’t think this means we should assume they’re not achievable goals. As well as the wealth of experience I bring to this role, I have ambition and resilience that would drive me to create positive change and make a real difference to student experience, even when faced with challenges.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 08:06

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. This issue has certainly concerned me, too, over the course of the past year. I can assure you, though, that I would put clear boundaries in place between my personal and professional social media use if elected. The VP Education and Democracy role is perhaps easier than most to maintain this separation with, since a lot of the issues being tackled are less emotionally charged than in roles such as VP Welfare and Communities or Union President. My use of social media within this role would be purely to keep students up-to-date with what their representatives are achieving, progress being made and the discussions taking place at SUSU within the remit of VP Education and Democracy. I would only voice support for my colleagues online if it was appropriate to do so and in the interest of the students I'd be representing in this role. I have been representing students since my first year, both on social media and off, and am yet to blur the boundary between professional and personal. I hope that reassures you.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 09:22

How would you handle a disagreement with another sabbatical?

Hi - thanks for your question. Hopefully it goes without saying that professionalism would be my top priority. Sabbatical officers are elected to represent the student body and individual clashes should never overshadow the fact that these representatives are carrying out work far beyond themselves. If the disagreement was about policy or how to handle an aspect of the job, I would generally turn outwards to establish what the student body as a whole would favour, since the job is about representing students best, not what two individuals might want. If the disagreement was personal, on the other hand, I would ensure that it was resolved outside of the workplace so that it didn't preclude progress. In any job, though, individuals have to work with others who they don't necessarily click with. If I am elected, I would assure you that I would handle this scenario with professionalism and remain focused on the priority of improving student experience at Southampton.

This question was also asked to Joanne Lisney, Sebastian Graves-Read, Jess HardingAnswered by Evelyn on 06/03/19 08:40


  • 50 x Colour Posters - A4 - £10.80
  • 1 x Transfer Paper - £1.95
  • 1 x Food Colouring (Used to dye T-shirts) - £1.00