Samuel Tweedle

Candidate for Vice President Sports

  • Repair the relationship between sports clubs and SUSU
  • Work with presidents to form a consensus on SUSU's approach to socials
  • Lobby for better facilites, advertising and access to bunfight for Intramural
  • Work to create a bursary for disadvantaged students to aid particiapation in sport
  • Make more OPTIONAL support and training available to committees

Why vote for me?

Uni sports clubs do so much good, from keeping people active and helping people settle into uni, to providing you with possibly the biggest group of friends you'll ever have and giving you some life changing experiences. Being on a club committee for two years, as treasurer and as president, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. However, it has also shown me how stressful committee life has been made this year and if elected I will seek to improve this as much as I can.

If you elect me as VP sports, my first promise is that I will first and foremost be a club member at heart. Our clubs are brilliant, and the reason they are brilliant is because of the students running them. I have found it heart-breaking this year to see how much trust has been lost between SUSU and students who run the clubs. I will make sure SUSU trusts and supports you to do the amazing jobs that you do, and I hope that I will be able to go some way towards restoring trust in SUSU. 

One contentious area this year has been SUSU’s approach to socials. Obviously, the sort of stuff which you see hitting the news has no place in sports, however I feel that SUSU needs to listen to clubs more over this as the approach this year has done nothing but pile stress and uncertainty onto our committees. One of the first things I will do, if elected, is speak to all the club presidents to find a consensus about how we should all approach the issue together.

I would also ensure that SUSU develops more support for new committee members who feel they need it. I will make sure that any new training introduced is optional so you only do it if you think you need it, and furthermore seek to work with the VP welfare to address a lot of the concerns sports clubs have had with the relevance of the WIDE training.

I would make improving things for intra-mural clubs a priority. I would like to explore getting IM clubs at the main bunfight and advertised better on the website. Furthermore, I will campaign for the facilities given to intra-mural to be improved.

I will also seek to introduce a bursary for disadvantaged students to participate in sport by approaching our alumni community like Exeter Uni do.

Clubs need a VP sport who is prepared to fight their corner, and that is the sort of VP sports that I would seek to be. 

My other aims are:

  • Lobbying to improve the martial arts room
  • Seeking to give coaching courses parity with coaching to help self-help clubs
  • Attempting to find a way to get sport specific injury prevention advice for each club to improve wellbeing
  • Lobbying sport and wellbeing to let people have a few tasters outside of the designated weeks

Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

Do you not think that if you're worried about being disciplined for running a social that you shouldn't be doing it in the first place? It's not hard to run socials that meet SUSU's current requirements.

When looking at socials, I feel that there is a distinction which has to be drawn between actions which everyone would agree are blatantly wrong (such as racism or particularly sadistic initiations), and actions which can fall into more of a subjective 'grey area' such as whether someone would reasonably feel pressured to drink alcohol. The problem we have is that noone really knows in practise what SUSU's exact requirements are so there is a lot of room for interpretation, and this is something which they are actually starting to realise themselves. This is coupled with a lot of research from Universities UK which says that zero tolerance does not work and working with people in a collaborative way is the best way to improve things. Where I am talking about more of a collaborative process towards socials working with, not against clubs, I am not talking about condoning the more extreme things which come up. I'm sure that most people will agree that these sort of things do need dealing with. Instead, I am talking about having a conversation with clubs about how we approach the grey areas in the current system, and whether we should be working together with clubs to improve in these situations rather than being quick to punish people who are not setting out to harm people but instead have been caught out by a lack of awareness. A culture of learning and openess has never been created by zero-tolerance. The sheer amount of people within sports saying the current approach is piling too much stress on committees is evidence that the current approach isn't working. When we've got a situation where the social sec of one of the most caring, welfare concious sports clubs (who also doesn't drink!) is terrified of SUSU, its clear that something has gone badly wrong. In every interview I've done I have said that I am never going to say that hazing is ok because it isn't. However, I have always found that you make more progress working with people rather than against them.

This question was also only asked to SamuelAnswered by Samuel on 20/02/20 18:44

What are you going to do to support lesser known and less popular sports to get more publicity/funding/awareness? As they need more help to get people to join than more common sports that people already know/have played before uni

This is an incredibly big issue which a lot of less widely known sports face. There are lots of things which I will do to help publicise these clubs more. Firstly, I will try to create 'club spotlights' on the team soton and SUSU instagrams to enable clubs to get more widely publicised during freshers week. In addition, within my manifesto I have said I will lobby sport and wellbeing to allow people a taster allowance outside the main taster period. I really hope that this will benefit lesser known clubs as it will allow people to join even if they were not aware of them during freshers. I hope that this will then increase the funding available to these clubs through membership fees. As smaller clubs often tend to also be self help clubs, I hope that my manifesto pledge to raise the cap on coaching courses will also go some way towards helping financially. I would also obviously be really up for hearing if you've got any other ideas of how I could help with this so please give me a shout on https://www.facebook.com/VoteSamTweedleVPSports/ if you've got any other suggestions.

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 20/02/20 18:05

What does SUSU mean to you? If you were to define its values in 5 words, what would they be?

As someone who is trying to change SUSU and how it interacts with its clubs, I have seen first-hand through my work on the Athletic Union Committee what a force for good SUSU is able to be. However, from my perspective as a club president, both myself and a good number of committee members from a large range of clubs feel SUSU means stress and a lack of communication and support. I feel SUSU should have these 5 values with respect to sports. • Trust- demonstrating and earning trust in all its interactions with clubs and students • Compassion- recognizing that clubs and students do not always get things right as we are only human (and volunteers with uni courses on top of that!) and offering support to improve rather than criticism wherever it is possible and reasonable • Passion- advocating relentlessly to improve the student sporting experience for ALL students. • Humility- Being prepared to look at itself and realise where it can improve, and constantly seek honest feedback from the students within the clubs. Not being too proud to admit when it gets it wrong as just as clubs are only human, so is SUSU. • Pragmatism- doing the best it can by as many people as it can by seeking logical solutions to problems and being open to new ideas

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 26/02/20 12:06

What was wrong with the Mayflower FC incident and what would you have done?

Firstly, people using that word, or any other racial slur have got no place in sports, and no place in sports at Southampton. The same goes for anyone practicing any other kind of racist behaviour. While I am advocating for a less confrontational way of dealing with incidents based on mutual trust, I am clearly not advocating doing so for something as egregious as this video appeared to be as this sort of thing needs to be stamped out, and this is something which I’m sure 99.9% of our sports people agree upon. However, we also have to respect that people are innocent until proven guilty, and in this case the individual involved was found innocent of using that word on the back of expert advice. Unfortunately this caused a great amount of hurt to a large number of people, however I do not believe that a system which presumes guilt, doesn’t allow people accused of misconduct a fair hearing and instead allows them to be tried by the court of public opinion is a fair and just way for any organization to operate. So in this case where they were found innocent, I would have respected the fact they were found innocent while also making it clear that SUSU unequivocally condemns the behaviour which was alleged to have taken place, outlining to students the potential consequences should they be found to have displayed such behaviour in an attempt to dissuade other students from thinking that they can get away with it. I would also make sure that everyone’s feedback is listened to and passed to the university who took this incident out of SUSU’s hands. However, had they been found guilty I would have fully supported the strongest sanctions being put in place for the individuals who were racist. I believe that clubs and SUSU should operate on trust, however if people severely betray this trust by doing something as completely awful as was alleged in this incident, I will have no hesitation in coming down like a tonne of bricks should a fair process find them guilty, as I’m sure 99% of sports people would expect me to. I do also believe that procedurally there are a good many improvements which need to be made. The response needed to be more transparent and concluded far quicker where it wouldn’t be unjust to do so. Also, as much as possible balancing the need to protect the rights of the people involved in the process, more information about the reasoning behind the ‘facts found’ in the investigation should have been published to assure people a fair process has been followed given that the video appeared to conclusively show the word being sung. As part of building a consensus with clubs over SUSU’s approach to socials so we all know where we stand next year, I will of course make sure that they know that racism is a clear red line for me and use the opportunity to work with clubs to reduce the chances of incidents happening in the future by working together in a collaborative way even before anything gets reported. I believe all clubs would be horrified at the thought of finding themselves in a similar situation to Mayflower, and by working together we can make sure that the likelihood is greatly reduced.

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 26/02/20 09:04

Is there a problem of racism and exclusion in sport? If so, how will you deal with it?

In my view, sports at Southampton is like society at large. There are a huge number of good people, and a small number of racist people who can give the rest a bad name. I do not think it is fair to label all of the sports clubs at the University of Southampton racist and exclusionary based on a handful of incidents (which obviously need dealing with) when the vast majority of clubs contain amazing people who try their best to welcome everyone. However, I do feel there is more we can do to show everyone how welcoming sports at Southampton can be. I would make sure that SUSU is supporting campaigns such as ‘show racism the red card’, as well as improving the WIDE training to give more practical advice to clubs on how to show they are welcoming, such as trying to make freshers advertising materials as representative as possible which is a strategy recommended by the vast majority of sport's national governing bodies in the UK.

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 26/02/20 11:39

How would you improve the facilities and experiences of students who want to take part in non-competitive sports such as intramural?

Intramural is an amazing way of encouraging more people to do sport in a more relaxed environment. IM and AU should be seen as two sides of the same coin of our sporting offer at Southampton, however at times in the past IM hasn’t been given the support it deserves. I have got a couple of ideas which I would like to work with IM clubs to implement if I get elected. Firstly, I would like to make the IM bunfight a section of the main bunfight on the Wednesday in order to give it more exposure to a wider range of students. In addition, on the SUSU website the AU is listed as ‘sports’ however IM is listed as intramural without much explanation of what it is. I would like to change the website so that out entire sports offer is presented to students under sports on the website so that IM is able to get equal exposure. I will also lobby relentlessly for sport and wellbeing to improve the quality of facilities which IM gets given to avoid a repeat of this year as far as possible, and to make sure IM sees real investment from the sport experience board strategy which is currently being consulted on by the University. Unfortunately, the best laid plans rarely survive contact with the Great British weather, so I will also make sure that during periods of weather related disruption at Wide Lane I set up regular meetings with myself, the IM officer and sport and wellbeing to work on solutions to minimize the disruption, ensuring SUSU and S&W are communicating effectively with IM clubs and pulling out all the stops to ensure we are finding the least bad solution. I have to hold my hands up and say that I unfortunately don’t have any personal experience of IM as my sport revolves around chucking myself off waterfalls in a kayak which clearly isn’t part of IM! As a result, I am very aware that I although I have a number of ideas I do not necessarily have all the solutions to this issue so I will make speaking to a range of IM players one of my first priorities if elected to gain your input on other ways I can best help you. I really want to listen and make sure that things improve for you next year. If you’ve got any other ideas how I could improve things for IM please drop me a message at https://www.facebook.com/VoteSamTweedleVPSports/

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 27/02/20 16:40

How will you help support disabled people get involved with sport?

Sport at Southampton should be available to everyone and I feel there is a lot more we can to do help students with disabilities to participate. Currently, we are in a situation where SUSU tells clubs to include people with disabilities via the WIDE training, however it gives very little in the way of practical support for clubs to do this. We need to recognize that this is an area where in general most clubs have very little experience and become much better at providing support as in general clubs have good intentions but not the expertise. Furthermore, while it absolutely shouldn’t be this way, where including someone requires the purchase of specialized equipment we have to look at improving things in the context that many clubs are so financially stretched that all their efforts are by necessity going into remaining a going concern and meeting day to day running costs rather than becoming more inclusive by purchasing this equipment. As a result, we need to be facilitating tangible financial support to clubs to aid inclusion rather than just telling them to be inclusive via WIDE if we want to improve things. Several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to an amazing seminar by Cam (a wheelchair basketball player) and Isabella (a paraclimber) organized by SUSU and it was really interesting to hear their ideas on how we should be improving our offer for sportspeople with disabilities. They mentioned several additional sources of funding which clubs can access- I would hope to improve the WIDE training with regards to disabilities by including how to access additional funding for the purchase of specialized equipment, both inside and outside the university. They also mentioned how supportive sports’ national governing bodies are when clubs are looking for advice on how to be inclusive of people with disabilities, so I would use the WIDE training to make sure that clubs are aware how helpful their NGBs can be as any advice SUSU can provide is by definition quite limited and general- it makes far more sense to also signpost clubs to advice specific to their sport. The main thing they said was to treat everyone as an individual, and to have a conversation with them to work figure out how best to include them- there is no one size fits all approach and I will make sure that the WIDE training emphasizes this point. Furthermore, due to my extensive professional experience managing coaches coaching people with disabilities across a wide range of watersports, I have seen how much difference the attitude and the training of the coaches can have on whether people with disabilities want to participate in sports. I would like to increase the support available to coaches to know how to coach disabled participants more effectively, as it needs to become far more of a collaborative, learner centered process in order to adjust the technique to suit the person in front of them. When I did my coach course for kayaking, British Canoeing gave me some amazing resources to assist coaches in coaching participants with a huge range of additional needs and I would hope to produce a similar resource for AU & IM clubs who find themselves needing this support. In producing this, I would hope to gain the advice of several athletes with disabilities, as well as experienced coaches of people with disabilities, as the best advice comes from people with first-hand experience. I also hope that by restoring some trust between SUSU and clubs, this will have a knock-on benefit for disabled participation as clubs will feel they can approach SUSU and work together to help people participate. Working together with clubs in a practical way is the best way to improve club’s abilities to include people with disabilities effectively, and realistically clubs will only feel comfortable coming to SUSU if we have that mutual trust.

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 28/02/20 23:09

How will you deal with people that are keen to get into sports but do not have the financial means to do so?

I am passionate about the fact that noone should feel that they are unable to get into sports due to their financial situation. People on limited budgets should not just be restricted to a few clubs who by their nature do not require high cost equipment and/or sport and wellbeing facilities, as our whole sporting offer should be open to all. Exeter Uni have been able to create a bursary for students who are in receipt of their equivalent of our student support fund by approaching their alumni community for support, and I reckon that if they’ve managed it then it is highly likely that we can learn from their good practice and implement it here as well. (The link to their scheme is here if you’re interested: https://www.exeterguild.org/activities/societies/support/hardship/). I would also like to do everything I can to improve marketing of the free sport program, as I feel many people who could benefit from it do not necessarily know it exists, and look into expanding it to cover more sports where possible.

This question was also asked to Kiera Spencer-Hayles, Luke JefferiesAnswered by Samuel on 02/03/20 17:46

You addressed mainly physical disabilities and the need for specialised equipment when discussing disabilities and sports but how do you plan to help people with invisible disabilities get into sport?

Where I talked about extra equipment in the answer which I gave to the earlier question it was not intended to be solely aimed at people with visible disabilities as it is not beyond the realms of possibility that someone with an invisible disability may also require additional adaptive equipment to participate depending on the sport (eg someone with brittle bone disease could potentially feel they require additional protective equipment in order to participate safely in some sports). I feel it is important to raise specialized/additional equipment as an issue and have a pragmatic look at how SUSU can help as for many people this could be a barrier to participation, however this is not the only thing I stated in my answer which we can do to help ALL people with disabilities to get involved in sport. Where I talk about the need to provide coaches with development opportunities to coach people with disabilities better, this will of course involve advice on both visible and invisible disabilities, as will the practical advice given to committees through improving the WIDE training. I will of course make sure that people with a wide range of disabilities have input into this advice.

This question was also only asked to SamuelAnswered by Samuel on 01/03/20 21:44

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