Gitanjali Srinivasan

Candidate for Vice President Activities

  • Lobbying and Protests should have more power
  • Remove barriers and make societies more accessible
  • Academic societies should provide educational support e.g. study groups
  • Listen to students to improve the quality of activities
  • University should increase spending on societies
Vote for Gitanjali now!

Why vote for me?

As the current vice president of a society, I have seen how much covid has affected our ability to run activities for university students. All the hopes and dreams people had when starting university have quickly been forgotten. As we cannot truly participate in activities this year, our mental health suffers, and we are struggling to make genuine connections with people.
How can you when the first years were unable to have a proper freshers week and the rest of us too busy with work to take part in anything? This has led to both societies, and students feel their complaints are unheard. So, significant changes must occur to restore the quality of the university experience.
Firstly, society’s and its member’s lobbying and protests should have more power in the university. If enough people feel strongly about something, the university should not be able to disregard that without good reason. This will help societies be heard, consequently allowing SUSU to provide as many activities of as high quality as we can during covid.
Secondly, SUSU needs more help from the university to make these activities more accessible. There are many barriers to taking part in these activities from financial to time zone issues (for international students), but everyone still deserves to have a good university experience. Therefore, to ensure this, I will work to make sure all kinds of help is made more accessible, of better quality and better know so everyone who needs help can receive it.
Thirdly, I want to help academic societies broaden the range of activities provided to include more educational support, e.g. study groups. This will help students be less stressed, as they can meet more people and receive help on their studies, which is especially needed as our university education's quality has dropped.
Fourthly, societies and activities have dropped in quality as they have moved online. I will work to taking feedback from students and societies to improve the quality of this, while also trying to hold as many activities as possible, in person. I want to mainly focus on giving the new first-year students a memorable freshers week so they can have a great start to their university career.
Finally, if the university continues to be unwilling to give a tuition cut, in that case, I will lobby for increasing spending on societies and activities. This will help societies reduce their membership fees and will make it more accessible for students. It will be beneficial because many students this year have spent a lot of money on membership fees, only to never be able to participate in any in-person activities. Therefore, increasing spending in this area can not only improve the quality of activities but also make it more accessible.
We are the biggest students union in the country, help me to help you make the most out of it.

Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

How will you ensure societies such as NDSoc and LGBT+ Soc, which support groups who are discriminated against, support their members and fight for them when required?

As someone who is neurodivergent/disabled and part of the LGBT community, I have experienced first-hand discrimination and feel strongly about preventing it. There is a multitude of laws such as the Equality Act 2010 which makes the university legally obliged to protect students from discrimination, so I will work with SUSU and the university to prevent discrimination and to ensure appropriate action is taken if any form of discrimination does occur. Education is the first action that should be taken. This can help people understand how not to behave and help Societies to learn to identify when discrimination occurs so they can take action on it. Not only will I focus on educating those running the societies but will also aid them in educating others to reduce the likelihood of it occurring in the future. I will create definitions, explanations and examples of discrimination to make it clearer to people how not to behave and to enable societies to recognise discrimination more clearly. However, this will not eradicate discrimination as there are many who refuse to learn or care about others. If it is a matter of ignorance, there will be a focus on education but otherwise, I aim to work with the VP of Welfare to enact a no-tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination. Being strict on this matter could deter people from being discriminatory and protect those who are hurt by their actions. For this, I will also work to enact clear procedures for reporting discrimination that has been witnessed or experienced. This will empower societies to protect students and fight back when required.

This question was also only asked to GitanjaliAnswered by Gitanjali on 24/02/21 01:56

What are your 3 core values?

My 3 core values would be to focus on student's needs, growth for societies and preparation. I will focus on better preparing societies for running during covid and/or be help them be prepared to transition out of covid. I want to ensure that societies can accomplish more than they did this year regardless of any struggles they may face. Finally, I am passionate about putting students’ needs at the core of everything we do. I feel that they have been neglected amidst everything this year, so I want to bring the focus back to students by holding activities where any and every student will be given the opportunity to relax, have fun and meet other people regardless of any issues they may be facing.

This question was also asked to Ella FoxhallAnswered by Gitanjali on 24/02/21 02:35

Can you provide an example where lobbying has not been successful?

One example would be the no detriment policy. I have even seen so many students asking for this matter to be addressed only to get a reply that the university has done enough and so there is no reason to give a no detriment policy. I argue that SUSU should have fought harder for this, that the university should have listened better, and that the outcome they have given is currently not good enough. The special considerations process is not good enough and there was no real reason to reject the no-detriment policy. We know how hard this year has been for us but those in charge have opted to not listen to us and decide that covid has had negligible effect on students ability to perform this year and so have decided that there is no need for a no-detriment policy. The mere fact that this decision was made purely within russell group universities and without the involvement of students unions shows how little power the unions have. As the decisions that they make are made from their own perspective but without the involvement of those truly going through the problem, it is clear that our lobbies and protests are falling on deaf ears. Though they have improved the special considerations process, which I do believe is good, it is not equivalent to what a no-detriment policy can provide. So many of us that apply for it do not receive special considerations even if we have good reason and serious mitigating circumstances. For example, I know someone who was robbed of their electronics but still did not get special considerations. The outcomes possible are also very limited and do not offer the same amount of help as the no-detriment policy could. Furthermore, the mere fact that all teaching is done online and the quality of education has dropped during covid has reduced the worth of our degrees and grades. Their argument that a no-detriment policy would cause harm to the worth of our grades, is pointless when our degrees worth has already been affected. So why not at least help students out so they get the grades that truly reflect their potential if it was not for covid? We have fought for it but not received it because the university made it seem like they know better, and that this action of improving the special considerations process is more than enough. It is clearly not because the process does not offer enough of or the right kind of help, and there was no real reason to not give a no-detriment policy but they still rejected it. Just because those in power say that covid has negligible effect on students ability to perform does not make it true. Though there is a lot of successful lobbying, there is also a lot that have also been unsuccessful. There are so many students that support these matters but the university still opts to ignore it and prioritise themselves. Universities are a business, and in a business the customers must always be prioritised. We will not hear Louis Vuitton or Gucci telling its customers that they will reduce the quality of their product as they are suffering financially during covid, but customers will still be made to pay the same amount so why is it acceptable in a university setting? They have a contract with us just as we have a contract with them and they have failed to give us what we are paying for. Therefore, it is unfair to allow the university to keep prioritise themselves and ignore the matter. Giving special considerations did not sort the issue out so even if they have improved that process, they have still ignored the need to implement a no detriment policy. The no-detriment policy should have gone through but it did not, and so it is very clear that lobbying has been unsuccessful and has little power in the eyes of the university.

This question was also only asked to GitanjaliAnswered by Gitanjali on 25/02/21 03:38

What is your philosophy around our clubs and societies? Do you see yourself as more of a leader, a facilitator or something else entirely?

I believe having more of a democratic management style when it comes to clubs and societies will be the most beneficial. I see myself having a focus on collaboration and growth. I will collaborate with societies so they will be able to openly discuss their ideas and opinions, which will enable me to work with them to create necessary change. The collaboration will lead to more engagement from societies who will feel more encouraged to actively work towards creating change, and as more opinions are voiced I will be able to help them find better solutions and outcomes and put out their best work. I also aim to push them to accomplish more in their time working as a part of societies by motivating them to raise the bar, encourage creativity and by better supporting them in their work. I want to be aware of all the good and the bad going on and to have great communication with those running the societies. So, as I will be collaborating with the societies instead of being a leader and telling them what they can and cannot do, it will mean that I can encourage growth and accomplish more without causing them to get burnt out. This focus on growth and collaboration is essential because societies need to be more easily adaptable to change and disruption, which is currently abundant.

This question was also asked to Ella FoxhallAnswered by Gitanjali on 24/02/21 02:55

What ideas do you have to help our clubs and societies to recover from coronavirus?

During covid societies have mainly suffered financially and engagement wise. To improve this, we must improve the model and the way they function to be adaptable to issues surrounding covid. They used to have a focus on in-person activities which is unlikely to restart as quickly as we hope, so I will focus on training everyone to hold engaging activities online. I will learn and take on advice and others’ opinions to make sure I am helping each society in the way that best fits them. Once they are prepared to run the societies either online or offline, I will focus on finance and engagement. Due to most activities being held online, the limited budget is manageable. However, as we transition from running online to in-person activities, I agree that the budget needs to be increased. We are not getting back what we are paying for, so I will lobby the university to increase the spending on the students. This could include both increased spending education-wise and activities, but I will be focusing on the latter. In terms of engagement, I want to do my best to have as many in-person activities as possible, which I know many of us cannot wait for. E.g. I aim to work with external companies as well as societies to run fun events for freshers week, which I will do my best to hold in person. Furthermore, I will focus on improving accessibility for all so more students are able to take part, helping students with their education through academic societies so they have more time for activities and are less stressed, and finally, I will focus on improving the promotion of these activities. I was not aware of most of the activities occurring this year as it was not promoted enough, so merely getting more people aware and excited about taking part could make a big difference. By focusing on improving the way societies run to be covid friendly, fighting for a budget increase and improving engagement I will be able to help societies recover from covid.

This question was also asked to Ella FoxhallAnswered by Gitanjali on 25/02/21 02:58

Budget

Gitanjali has not spent any of their budget yet