Emily Bastable

Candidate for Vice President Education and Democracy

Photo of Emily Bastable

Key Points

  • Increase number of postgraduate scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Reduce student workload around the winter holidays.
  • Greater emphasis on student feedback and partnership at all levels.
  • #realstudentstories to inspire applicants from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Activism training so students can create the change they want.

Why vote for Emily?

It feels odd nominating yourself for a role with the word “democracy” in it after the disappointment of the all-student vote for in-person exams earlier this year. I know many will not just feel let down by the University but feel disillusioned by the idea that student voice actually works. 

In a way it doesn’t. It is incredibly rare for a student representative to be able to enact policy without hitting resistance, having to adjust their expectations, or having to “table” discussions for a time that is more ‘suitable’ for other parties. Change is incremental and painfully slow. It involves debate, compromise, and grace with those who disagree with you.

In the last year I have met some amazing people who are working incredibly hard to make change for students who are systematically marginalised in the Higher Education System as a result of unchallenged bias.

A huge challenge to this important work is that often the University feels fractured. Too easily we become wrapped up in our smaller communities that we fail to see we are part of a much larger one. I believe the reform that we want to see in our university will only come about when we work as a collective.

Therefore, all of my manifesto policies are centred around working with staff and students across the University, to bring together the knowledge, skills and experience of everyone, to create a learning community that provides Education for all.

Why should you vote for me?

I’ve been an active member of several society committees including the Feminist society, Southampton Student Christian Movement, Education Society and Southampton Hub.

These positions have given me opportunities such as producing and running charity events, leading discussions, and creating and leading training sessions for volunteers.

Alongside my studies, I have worked as a student ambassador. This role has meant through meeting some wonderful people I am continually reminded of why I chose Southampton. It’s the people who make this University great. That’s why I want the University to use #realstudentstories to publicise the brilliance that is at Southampton, highlighting the diversity we have here. Too many times people believe that “university isn’t for them” just because they don’t see people like them attending. By showcasing different student stories, we can inspire and encourage more applicants from underrepresented backgrounds.

This last year I launched the Partnership for Education Reform with a fellow Education student. This partnership was formed with the recognition that the training and teaching provided at the Education school does not adequately prepare graduates to challenge the inequalities that are prevalent in Education. As well as planning seminars on racial bias, the partnership has rolled out monthly newsletters with resources about race, ethnicity, and culture in Education so that staff and students can supplement their learning.

It is my hope in the role of Vice President of Education and Democracy that I can expand on this campaign and encourage other students to form similar partnerships to create the change they want to see. 

Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

What projects would you continue from the current VP Education and Democracy?

Lottie and I share a passion for student voice and participation. Her goal of revamping the student academic representative role, so that students have more informal opportunities to discuss their concerns, is a great idea. This is in part of Lottie's recognition that staff engagement with student concerns and feedback varies greatly across faculties. By creating a strong team of representatives that can keep programmes accountable, accessible and equitable, students are less likely to 'fall through the cracks'. With this year's shift to 'hybrid learning', Lottie has fought for quality online learning. I would continue this work by empowering student representatives to speak up if University-wide guidance and policies are not being followed (such as lecture recording, uploading key information in advance and the use of Blackboard ally). This is all part of my third policy of student feedback and partnership. Student's should not just be heard, but should be part of the change.

This question was also asked to Jamie Biltcliffe, Ryan Couchman-Sawyer, Tomasz Duliban, Ruiya Wang, Holly Denton, Veronica Wang, Parth Pandya, James SparksAnswered by Emily on 21/02/22 13:14

Do you think the exam situation could have been done differently? If so, how?

This is probably not the most positive answer but no, I don't think the exam situation could have gone any differently. Ben, Lottie and the SUSU team worked incredibly hard, in a very short timeframe, to make our concerns about in-person exams heard. However, it is clear to me and indeed Ben especially that there is a key structural issue that was difficult to overcome. Ben is currently recommending to the University Executive Board that more student representatives should be on the board. Currently, only the SUSU President sits on the board which means that quite literally, students are a minority voice. By increasing the number of student representatives on the Executive board, we can lobby and debate student position more effectively. I hope that Ben is able to achieve this outcome, and if it isn't by July 1st, it is something that I will pick up on on my first day if elected. If you have any other questions or comments, please feel free to reach out via Facebook or Instagram at 'EmBforVPEdDem'. Thank you :)

This question was only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 21/02/22 13:28

You have listed two things you want to achieve in your manifesto - #realstudentstories and decolonising the curriculum, is there anything else?

Hello, thank you for your question. I have 5 policies which look at different areas of Education and Democracy. First of all I would like to increase postgraduate scholarships for disadvantaged students so that postgraduate programs are more accessible. I want to look at moving January assessments out of the first week of January so that students can enjoy their winter holiday. This is an issue that affects a significant minority of students across different programmes. My policy on increasing student feedback and partnership is quite broad, but this reflects that I have multiple ways of achieving this. By revamping the course representative system so that there are more informal opportunities for students to discuss their concerns, to creating University wide 'feedback weeks' mid-semester so that staff can effectively adapt to issues raised. My fourth policy looks at creating a video campaign of real student stories, this will not only inspire applicants from underrepresented backgrounds but also raise awareness for students and staff. Treating students as a homogenous group only leads to stereotyping, marginalisation and discrimination. My final policy is about creating activism training. This would be a workshop plus resources from myself and other active students about our experience lobbying for change in Higher Education. This would a sustainable policy, that every student would have the tools to initiate change in their communities. If you have any other questions and comments, feel free to message me on facebook or instagram at 'EmBforVPEdDem. Thank you :)

This question was only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 21/02/22 13:38

What is your opinion on the University disregarding the students view and referendum that January exams should have been online?

Thank you for your question. Although I was disappointed at the University's decision to continue with in-person exams despite the referendum, I am pleased that it has engaged students with the democratic process. There are a few changes that I would like to make if elected. For all-student votes, I would like to create a better platform for student's to express their views so that when we bring student votes to University staff we also have anecdotal evidence, diverse perspectives and experience for them to reflect on. I've spoken before about wanting to also push for more student representation on the University Executive Board, to more effectively lobby for what students want. Finally, I want to advocate to staff at every level about the importance for student voice, and how it is integral to a quality education. To make effective and innovative decisions, senior leaders need both the explicit knowledge of how to manage HE institutions but also the tacit knowledge of student experience. Our voice matters, and I will fight to make sure it is heard. If you agree with me, make sure to vote me #1 for VP Education and Democracy. Follow me @embforvpeddem for more information about my manifesto and policies.

This question was also asked to Jamie Biltcliffe, Ryan Couchman-Sawyer, Tomasz Duliban, Ruiya Wang, Holly Denton, Veronica Wang, Parth Pandya, James SparksAnswered by Emily on 27/02/22 11:35