Ryan Couchman-Sawyer

Candidate for Vice President Education and Democracy

  • Ensure the University provides value for money teaching
  • Ensure fair treatment of students affected by covid-19
  • Provide easy access to study resources online and on campus
  • Highlight changes achieved by student reps in each faculty
  • Work with VP Welfare to provide mental health support

Why vote for me?

Over the past three years of my degree, I have represented my course mates as both a course rep and school president. I have been a reliable person to convey the concerns of my students and have been a friendly person to approach with any concern’s students have, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. For this reason, I have decided to run for VP Education and Democracy.

My main aims as VP Education and Democracy would be to help tackle the concerns students have about teaching and assessments during the pandemic. Many students I have spoken to have raised concerns about how teaching has been run this year. I intend to work with the university to ensure that, should online learning continue next year, the quality of teaching provided by the university meets the expectations of students. I also intend to ensure that students who have been affected by covid-19 – including those who have had to act as carers at home for vulnerable family – are not disadvantaged.

I also want to increase access to study materials both on campus and online. I intend to work with the university to increase the availability of eBooks for all courses that can be used from the library. If the pandemic continues through next year, access to resources from home will be an important issue and one I intend to set about delivering. I want to also ensure that lectures have access to captions by default to increase accessibility to students who are hard of hearing.

Another aim I have is to highlight the efforts that student reps have within each faculty by providing regular updates by email and Facebook stating changes that student reps have made possible. My intention is to make the work that the student reps provide as visible as possible to ensure that students know their voices matter. I also intend to continue the course rep of the month scheme to highlight specific individuals who have gone above and beyond to help their course mates and ensure high awareness of the importance of course reps.

Finally, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of our mental health, particularly in the past few weeks during the assessment period. The pandemic will have had an important effect on the mental health of students. I therefore would intend to work in conjunction with the next VP Welfare to ensure that there is good mental health support for students in regard to their workload, particularly in the exam season.

I hope these policies interest you and show that I am a reliable and approachable individual and I hope that I am the ideal candidate for you.

Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

What are your 3 core values?

Hi. Thanks for your question. I would say my three core values are: 1. Dedication to a cause - I will ensure I follow up on everything that I am asked and will put 100% of my time and effort into a cause. 2. Approachability - I am an approachable person and will answer any questions people ask me or will be there for people who need someone to talk to 3. Focused on achieving results - I will ensure that I get results that students want from SUSU and that I can make change for a better university experience.

This question was also asked to Charlotte James, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Ryan on 19/02/21 13:12

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, I've have been heavily involved with academic representation over the past three years having been a course rep in my first year and then school president in my second and third years so I am very experienced with working alongside both students and the university in order to convey issues that are affecting students. I feel that people know they can approach me with an issue and I will help them out no matter what it is. I have been working hard this year to ensure that students are treated fairly with online learning and assessments by encouraging lecturers to add captions automatically, working with my school to relay concerns students have had in regards to assessments and sending out surveys to determine what students main concerns were, how they felt teaching had been, and working with the school to try and find solutions for their problems. (Obviously I can go on stating every single change I've made but I think the above says enough about my experience). If elected I will ensure that I continue putting the effort I have shown for the past few years into representing student concerns and hope that with my experience I can achieve what I have laid out in my manifesto. Hope this answers you question.

This question was also asked to Charlotte James, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Ryan on 19/02/21 13:04

Hi Ryan, I've been following your work over the past couple of years and you obviously work really hard across a number of societies and committee roles. Having worked so hard for so long, do you think you can continue to stay motivated and maintain your excellent work ethic in such an important and time-consuming role?

Hi. Firstly, thanks for the kind comment! It means a lot. I always make sure I put 100% of my time and effort if I take up a role because I feel that if you have stepped up to a role then you should put the hard work and effort in to ensure you deliver on what you promise. I can say with 99% certainty that if elected to VP Ed and Dem, I will continue to put the same 100% effort into my work as a sabb as I have done so over the past 3 years on society committees or as academic reps in order to represent all students concerns.

This question was also only asked to RyanAnswered by Ryan on 19/02/21 12:32

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?

Hi, thanks for your question. If elected, I want to work very closely with students who may be somewhat neglected in representation such as (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) postgraduates, foundation year students, dual honours students, students who have disabilities, and international students. I intend on working closely with the postgraduate representatives on understanding what issues affect them and how SUSU can go about resolving these issues. I also intend on implementing Teams meetings (or hopefully in person meetings if restrictions allow) to talk with specific groups including postgraduates, foundation year students, international students, dual honours students etc. to focus my attention on these particular demographics to find out what these students want. I would intend on holding these specific meetings at least once each term (in addition to carrying on the weekly drop in sessions done by previous VPs) so there is a specific time for these demographics to contact me with issues they are having. ---- I also want to modify the process of applying for a course rep position after the autumn elections (co-opting). I have found that students in first year or foundation years don't apply for a course rep position in the autumn as they aren't sure on how much work they are likely to receive, what activities they will do regularly etc. However, it is possible to co-opt students into course rep roles in a long process whereby the get in touch with an academic president who then has to run a vote during an SSLC meeting and then has to contact the representation team within SUSU making it a long process before a co-opted course rep is mentioned on the SUSU website. This makes it difficult for students in courses (and especially in joint honours courses) to get in touch with a course rep to convey their concerns. I intend on working with SUSU to modify the process to make it a more streamlined process (and one that can happen throughout the year rather than solely on the SSLC meetings) by allowing presidents to run a vote at any time amongst the course reps before passing this information on to the representation team. There are other changes to the course rep system I would like to consider making including increasing the number of course reps that can be elected as the current limit (2) can make it difficult to reach all students on courses where there are 100+ students meaning some voices aren't heard. I would therefore raise the limit to allow for a wider coverage of students and make finding a course rep a lot easier. By having a strong number of course reps for each course it means the representation further up can be improved allowing SUSU to engage with students concerns. ---- Obviously there are a lot more ideas I have in regards to how I can engage with the wider student body (and especially the groups I mentioned at the start) but these two ideas are some of the main ideas I have currently to engage with students (and I am aware this is already a really long response). However, I am more than happy to discuss these ideas further either by email or Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/Vote-Ryan-1-For-VP-Education-and-Democracy-113323364071954/ ) if you want to ask any other specific questions. Hope this answered your question! --------- TL;DR - I want to run specific meetings every term targeted at listening to concerns of particular students (postgrads, international students etc.) and intend on improving the course rep system so there is a strong basis for relaying concerns higher up the representation structure amongst other ideas.

This question was also asked to Charlotte James, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Ryan on 23/02/21 17:23

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?

Hi, thanks for your question. It's not for one person to decide whether the University should or shouldn't cut ties with the People's Republic of China and should be decided on by all students. The actions taken by the Chinese Communist Party are horrendous and we should not be associated with these actions however, the university does have a large Chinese community so we have to remember these students when taking into account a decision. I do also believe that we shouldn't stop learning about Chinese culture or stop celebrating Chinese holiday's for the reason above. Whilst the actions are awful, it should not detract from members of the University learning or celebrating Chinese culture. At the end of the day, it is not for myself or any sabbatical candidate to say we should or shouldn't. However, if elected I would support running an all student vote to decide on SUSU and the Universities course of action (obviously the Uni will have final say but SUSU are independent from the university so can have their own stance if student support the action).

This question was also asked to Charlotte James, Martha Luke, Amina Lechkhab, Jordan HickeyAnswered by Ryan on 03/03/21 11:46


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