Charlotte James

Candidate for Vice President Education and Democracy

  • Mental health is prioritised for all students alongside their education.
  • Faculties are accountable for student feedback and implementing buddy schemes.
  • Standardisation for personal academic tutors.
  • Student voice and feedback is prioritised and voting is accessible.
  • Students offered free life and digital skills workshops.
Vote for Charlotte now!

Why vote for me?

Hello! I’m Lottie and I’d like to be your VP Education and Democracy. My focus is prioritising your voice and ensuring you’re represented by SUSU. This can mean a lot of things, but I’d like to concentrate on your wellbeing, your education, your right to make change, and through this, your overall experience. 

I don’t want you to be disappointed by your representatives. I want to make sure that you receive a good quality education. I will hold faculties accountable for student feedback and ensure students get the opportunity to provide feedback and raise concerns with their representatives. Your feedback should be taken seriously and into consideration with decision-makers at the university when discussing your education. I want to tie the role of the personal academic tutor into your studies by providing frequent communication and support for you, not just for your education, but also for your future and your wellbeing. 

I believe your voice is loud enough to create the change you want to see which is why I want to create a SU that works for and with students, an election process that engages and empowers students, and for everything we do at SUSU to be accessible for students. I want to prepare for the future by providing life and digital skill workshops for both teaching staff and students, and ensure new students feel at home when they move into their halls in September.

So why me? I have extensive experience in education and supporting unions, making me an ideal candidate for VP Education and Democracy.

  • Led the successful petition of the 2020/21 UoS halls refund.
  • As an Education course representative, listened and voiced student feedback, including less breakout rooms, more skills and assignment workshops, deadline dates, and created a space for students to communicate and collaborate online. 
  • Created materials for starting university for offer-holders, including budget trackers, information for mature learners, resources for mental health, an in-depth FAQ, and provide specific support, guidance, and preparing for university tips.
  • Part of the Learner Voice Practitioners Network to enhance learner voice and student representation across the UK. 
  • Led the SU at my previous college, leading successful campaigns into sustainability and accessibility, and ran digital and life skills workshops. 
  • New technology implemented by our Senior Management Team, at the college, I ensured student views were prioritised.
  • Co-managed eight students supporting training staff and students on technology at a vocational college. 
  • As part of the National Society of Apprentices Leadership Team, I discussed mental health, furlough, teacher wellbeing, and career progression for students as part of the COVID-19 parliamentary committee; and demonstrated how to use digital tools to enhance remote delivery to provide consistent, high-quality education, as well as supporting student mental health in the Netherlands.

Vote Lottie for #1 VP Education and Democracy.

Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

Hi Lottie! It’s great to see that you’re running for this position, I’ve followed your activities in the past year and I’m really happy with what you achieved! I’d like to ask you a question as I faced this issue many time. What is your plan regarding asking lecturers for feedback? In my case it was really hard to have a chat about results and I’d like to see what your approach is. (Vote Lottie, best future Vp of Education)

Hi, love! Thank you so much for your kind words - you're so sweet!! So, what I would like to do is ensure course representatives are taken seriously by holding faculties accountable for the amount of course rep feedback they have received, e.g., evidence of the changes (if any) they have made based on student feedback. I want this to be public knowledge because it's important that the faculties who have been brilliant get the recognition they deserve, and I really want to encourage faculties with less than positive feedback to be proud of the changes they have made. In a more specific sense, I would very much like to encourage all students to 'cc' in their course representative into any communications regarding feedback, where the course representative can make sure the students get a response and chase up, where required. In terms of the student chasing up themselves, I want to create an environment where students feel like they can ask questions and chase up their lecturers to make sure they get a response. If no feedback has been made after the student, and the course representative has pushed for a response, then it will follow in the change of command, e.g., student; course rep; school pres; SSLC; VP Education and Democracy. If elected, there will be no issue too small for me and I am happy to do what I can to ensure all students get the feedback that they deserve. Lottie

This question was also only asked to CharlotteAnswered by Charlotte on 18/02/21 15:12

What are your 3 core values?

Hi, love! This is a great question. I would say my three core values are: honesty, loyalty, and patience!

This question was also asked to Ryan Couchman-Sawyer, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Charlotte on 19/02/21 11:58

Hello, what experience do you each have in representing the student body, and how do you think this will assist if you were elected to this role?

Hi, lovely! I recognise the system doesn't allow for formatting so apologies if it is all put in one paragraph and is difficult to read, but I'll try and separate the points as much as possible! --- Before starting Southampton, I created a bunch of resources (which I am continuing to update and you can find on the unofficial Discord server under #useful-information) to support the September 2020 intake with a wide variety of general questions, transitioning to university, mental health queries, budget trackers, finance information and I have begun to create resources for the 2021 intake as well as housing information, etc for the 2020 intake. --- I have attended the Halls Forum to raise complaints, I have had a meeting with Student Life, the Halls team, and SUSU regarding supporting students during the lockdown (with a focus on students who are currently alone) which resulted in more, specific information regarding the halls rebate, Student Life looking into what else they can do to support students during the lockdown (as well as students in private accommodation), and an alternative to the buddy system as well as ensuring all University teams are sensitive to the time in which they release information (e.g., a lot of stuff happened during exam week). --- I have raised the fact that students are at risk of late fees when Student Finance does not pay them in time and accommodation fees are due where the University has promised to look into moving the payment dates. --- I have attended SSLC's as a course representative and queried and shared student feedback regarding teaching and learning on the BSc Education course. During my time as a rep, I have also, based on student feedback, decreased the number of breakout rooms, created a channel in which all students (including joint honours) have a space to communicate, requested deadline dates for assignments be reconsidered for the 2021 intake, requested and received more workshops for assignments and referencing for students who are struggling, offered support for students on my course, constantly provided a space for feedback and improvement for students, motivated and encouraged students, where possible, and provided resources to support student education. --- I have supported students from another faculty, by raising a complaint with SUSU, giving students a space to discuss the issues and discussing directly with VP Welfare and Community and the VP Education and Democracy about student concerns about the course which had a positive effect. --- Raised the petition, after feedback from students, for all students to receive rebates which resulted in 100% refunds for students who are not staying in student halls during the third lockdown period (I will still be chasing regarding private accommodation as it was ignored). --- Raised awareness of communal areas not being open and therefore devaluing student experience which the SUSU President pursued. --- Requested (3x!) for refunds to be made for students who are paying for communal areas (this seems to be an ongoing thing but I am not a quitter!). --- As a result of my nagging about student voice/ accommodation problems, SUSU and the university fees team now have monthly meetings to discuss and act on student issues, and the accommodation team reconsidered the 28 days leave notice for students who wish to leave halls. --- Constant liaison with the Halls Officer to encourage more direct support with students and quicker turnaround for dealing with complaints. --- Liaision with halls team to provide evidence of supporting student mental health and I provided student feedback and suggestions. --- I have been trying to encourage the Student Offices to push for council tax exemption for Sabbatical Officers. --- Students can get a rebate if they leave halls during the original rebate window (they pay for the nights they spent in halls, but receive a refund for any night they did not spend in halls). --- Supported students with complaints about halls/ services and have previously encouraged/ influenced students to raise their voice about their concerns, while constantly offering my support. --- Submitted three You Make Changes: changing student preferred names on Blackboard and Teams, allowing students to change their gender on the system themselves, and Support Services/ Enabling to stay up-to-date with the resources for students with ADHD, struggling with RSD, and ensuring this condition does not affect the individuals right to apply for special considerations/ extensions and will not negatively impact their education. --- Right, I think I am done! Please do follow along with my campaign as I will be producing weekly 'current projects' and explaining what I have been up to/ working on. Also, if there's any extra support any student needs, please feel free to get in touch with me - I don't mind what platform. Thank you for your question and please let me know if you need any more information!

This question was also asked to Ryan Couchman-Sawyer, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Charlotte on 19/02/21 11:54

How do you plan to engage with the wider student body, such as Foundation year students, and postgraduates, particularly across faculties that aren't within your degree area?

Hey, lovely - thanks for your question! I have been doing my best to currently engage with the entire student body on social media, including Facebook, WhatsApp, and the Discord server. With a role within SUSU, I will have more platforms to reach out and support more students, and I'll be in a position where students may be more likely to trust me with their concerns, and I may have a bit more power to actually do something about them! If elected, I'd definitely want to make my social media a bit more personable, and ideally, I'd like to be more visible to students on campus (obviously, this year has been difficult to do that). I think the first step is reaching out and being approachable, then I can work my way around the different 'groups of students' at the university. My policies cover the entire student body - regardless of what they're studying/ their level/ their status, etc. I am, of course, always open to suggestions on how I can support and engage Foundation Year students, and Postgrads, as much as I'm open to suggestions for Undergrads.

This question was also asked to Ryan Couchman-Sawyer, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Charlotte on 24/02/21 12:22

What do you think of the idea of reducing the tuition fees for students?

Hi, love. Thanks for the question! I think this is something I want to be decided by the students, in which I will push for the majority. On one hand, I can see why students should be refunded for the lack of quality within education on the majority of courses, but then I can also see where it might cause further issues towards student experience, e.g., loss of jobs/ resources affecting the quality of education, loss of funding in societies and activities, etc. I don’t have a secure position on this because I am very unsure, I know my course has been great and I don’t want a refund because I believe I have had access to a good quality of education that I was promised, however, I know full well that some faculties have not been great in terms of education and student feedback during semester one. I know a lot of candidates have promised this in their manifestos, and while I’d love to reimburse students for the lack of support and education they have received during the 2020 academic year, I also want to ensure that we aren’t affected in further years to come, but as I say, I am student-led so if the majority of the students want to push for refunds, then I am happy to stand as a representative. One important thing to also consider when looking into refunds for tuition fees is that it may not affect individuals directly, except in the case of students paying for the degree themselves, some postgrads, and international students, as the debt will be cleared after thirty years and will not be taken out of salary until the individual earns over £25,000.

This question was also only asked to CharlotteAnswered by Charlotte on 26/02/21 15:52

Would you encourage the University to cut ties with the People's Republic of China (in particular the Confucius Institute) due to the horrendous actions taken by the Chinese Communist Party?

Hey, love! Thank you for your question. Whilst I condemn the actions of the Chinese Communist Party, I do not believe that I, as a single person, have the authority to cut ties with the People's Republic of China. Doing this will ostracise an entire country that many students originate from and may lead to further issues with international students and general acceptance on campus. I cannot claim to be an expert by any means, but from my research I have seen that the Confucius Institute is not affiliated with the Chinese government and has international links, therefore, I believe that cutting them off would be damaging for international students and the education and understanding of all other university affiliates. I strongly believe that everyone has the right and the responsibility to be in an environment that cultivates learning and the acceptance of all peoples. If elected, I would be sure to acknowledge the Chinese Communist Party's actions and research the wider influence, but currently, I feel that that it is not my place, nor my jurisdiction, to undertake drastic action that may negatively affect the lives of many students. I would move towards an All Student Vote that would allow the student population to decide to ensure all student views are heard.

This question was also asked to Ryan Couchman-Sawyer, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Charlotte on 03/03/21 14:10

As you are only in your first year, and unfortunately have never experienced how the University works in ‘normal’ circumstances and at full capacity, how will you ensure that students in later years of their undergrads as well as all post-grads will trust you to understand their needs and deliver on longer term issues?

Hi, love! This is a great question, and thank you for asking me it. I understand, while I have not experienced university life in normal circumstances, I have been a student, I've worked at a college in a staff-facing role, I've led a Students' Union, I've worked with apprentices, I've represented students on a larger scale, and I have done all of this pre-covid and during covid. I could sit here and make promises to try and persuade the student body to trust me, but I believe actions speak louder than words. If I read, as a student, someone saying, 'yeah, you should trust me to understand the needs' and didn't provide any evidence of where I have taken the needs of students and done something about it, I'd roll my eyes. Over the last eight months, and before that, I have been listening to students from across the student body and I have been implementing steps to changes, petitions, attending Halls Forums, and sending off complaints about faculties that weren't even my own. The majority of the changes I've pushed for have succeeded (I say majority because a couple hasn't come back yet and I'm midst chasing). I will continue to listen, to action, to pester and push SUSU and the University, and I hope, based on my previous efforts as a first-year, you can trust me to continue the work I've been doing on a larger scale to ensure your needs are met on longer-term issues as we move to go back to normal.

This question was also only asked to CharlotteAnswered by Charlotte on 03/03/21 13:04

Budget

Charlotte has not spent any of their budget yet