.Representation

Evie Reilly

Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries

Key Points

  • A more transparent and accountable Union
  • A Union that isn't afraid to challenge the University
  • More support and security for Clubs and Societies
  • More spaces for societies on and around our campuses
  • Improved student consultation and representation

Why vote for me?

Hi, my name’s Evie and I’m re-running for the role of Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries. I’ve worked this year on issues ranging from the Vice-Chancellor’s pay to better defining the relationship between media, the cinema and the Union. If you vote for me I will ensure:Accountability The Union’s processes and structure is confusing - it shouldn’t be. I’m committed to creating a more transparent Union that students feel they can rely on. I will...(click here to read more...)

Questions & Answers

SUSU has had an unfortunate history of trying to de-stigmatise democracy and representation with very mixed results. Some examples of this strategy backfiring in recent history include: -2 NUS reaffiliation referenda, in which the student body voted overwhelmingly against the Sabbs' intention -The 24-hour library referendum - which the University made clear would not be respected prior to the results even being known -The rebrand referendum, and the events leading to it Do you think the problem is with the strategy at large, or the implementation thereof? Or maybe this was just an extended period of particularly bad luck and events outside of our control? How do we turn this trend around and reclaim the trust of our students?

You're absolutely right, in my experience in the role so far students can have a difficult time interacting with our democratic processes. This is, in part, because they aren't clear at all. How can we expect students to come along to a zone meeting when they have no idea what a zone is? What I want to do is make a Union that changes this; I want to literally rewrite the rules, consulting with relevant groups of students to make sure that the rules the Union and its members are governed by are clear and actually usable. I've also started the process of taking a serious look at the roles of sabbatical officers, the focus of these roles and how they best serve to represent students. If re-elected I would then look to extending this to how the levels underneath sabbs work; the zones. I think some of the issues we've had in the past have been, like you said, the way that things like Referendums came about (Now called All Student Votes as Referendums had such a bad rep the Union went so far as to rename the process!). If they're just on the whim of a sabb that doesn't mean students care. This is why I don't advocate for simply 'more All Student Votes'. Don't get me wrong I would love this to be the case, but only happen they are created naturally, by students for causes they care about, not just by the VP DCI deciding there should be more to give the illusion of better representation. This would only cause voter fatigue and perpetuate the stigma surrounding Referendums/All Student Votes. I believe that this year I've helped to start a move away from the idea of these things as negative. Take the All Student Vote on the University restructure. This vote came about because a group of students started a petition, which triggered an All Student Vote, about an issue they cared deeply about and they demonstrated that it resonated with other students too. We then worked with those students to write the questions to take to the whole student body, and are working with them still in our response. This is what I want to make more of. I would also add that, although I do want to rewrite the rules, there are some strong processes in place for representation, it’s about letting students know about them. I want there to be a big button on the website for petitions, and other representation processes. I want our You Make Change platform to be more user friendly, and to make it easier to track the process of the ideas and questions students have submitted. This is part of making the Union more transparent, one of my key points, and part of this is about letting students know what the Union is actually doing for students. I’m not talking about just emailing, as we all know how many emails are left unread or deleted by a busy student, but it’s about going out and doing what the Union is here to do – talk to and represent students! From simple things like having a screen on the concourse which tells students where the money they spend in Union outlets goes, to getting out of building 42 and going to sites, to utilising our reps more and to shout about their successes too. If we as a Union can demonstrate what our processes are and that actually, if used right they can and do work we become that bit more accessible to students. The other part of de-stigmatising representation is holding the representative that students elect accountable for what they do or do not do. How can a student feel that they are being properly represented by their sabbatical officers when Senate ‘runs out of time’ for them to ask their question? When there is little to no formalised way for a student to find out what the individual sabbs are supposed to be working on that year? I want to work with students to give Senate some teeth, to build on and improve the senator training that was introduced this year, to make Senate one of our most widely advertised events of the year, to allow more opportunities for unelected students who aren’t able to attend to ask questions, and I want to work with students to find out what they want to see. The Union has a reputation for being defensive and hiding behind its decisions – this shouldn’t be the case. The Union should want to be held to account, as this is how it can most effectively fulfil its purpose, and this is the Union that I want to create.

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Tom BrownAnswered by Evie on 21/02/18 23:09

If you had to pick, would you consider yourself to be a Democracy candidate, or a Creative Industries candidate?

The role of DCI is quite an odd one as there is not a lot of crossover between the two halves of the role. A lot of the more ‘high profile’ work I’ve done this year has been on democracy, largely because this is an area that I feel currently needs a lot of work, it underpins everything the Union does, after all. However, Creative Industries is still hugely important to me and a huge part of the role – it’s how I got involved in the Union in the first place! In the second half of my term this year (and hopefully next year if I’m re-elected!) there’ll be a lot more focus on Creative Industries, with the feedback from the finance survey and I have a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor scheduled once I’m back at work to talk about the University’s commitment to the Arts, and specifically to Creative Industries societies. There’s also a large body of work that I intend to do on how we run societies in general, that will benefit all societies, and of course CI. It’s a bit of a cop out, I know, but I would genuinely say I wasn’t either and was a mixture of both, I love both parts equally - it's the perfect role for me!

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Tom BrownAnswered by Evie on 26/02/18 14:00

'A union that isn't afraid to challenge the university' - have you not had ample opportunity to this, having been in the role for a year? It's clear with the way the union has conducted itself prior to strike action that it is terrified of challenging the university. Had the SU taken a much more aggressive stance in support of teachers and students, there is a possibility this strike could not have happened, with the unique position we are in with our VC having worked for UUK.

I think it’s important to appreciate that the strike action is national, not simply localised to Southampton. It’s also pertinent that the Vice-Chancellor spoke at the UUK meeting last week, stating that it is the “duty of universities to support the USS pension scheme to achieve the best possible outcome for our staff”. Despite this support from our VC, the strike still continues. It is also important to note that the Union is student led, as it should be, so action on the strikes could only be decided by students, not the sabbatical officers themselves. In response to the strikes the Union has been working UCU on organising Teach-Ins, and have been communicating generally with UCU throughout the process. At no point has it been raised to the Union by the representative we’ve met with that we are not doing enough, as was the same when we met with representatives from UCU on the course of action we should take following the All Student Vote on the restructure.

This question was also only asked to EvieAnswered by Evie on 26/02/18 14:01

Much of your manifesto is similar to your manifesto last year or involves ideas that could have been implemented this year. Why should students re-elect you if you failed to do these steps in your year in office?

In terms of any similarity to last year, I would say that there are projects/ideas in my manifesto that I have already begun to work on. However, projects such as the review of sabbatical officers/the zone structure are not small undertakings, and with the necessity of them being approved through the AGM which is now held in November, means that it’s a project that by necessity spans more than one sabbatical term. To ensure that there is full and clear student consultation and staff consultation takes time – the Union has learned some lessons from the past! I would also say that as a sabbatical officer I would not be doing my job if I didn’t react to current events that are pressing for students – I couldn’t predict when writing my manifesto last year that I’d be organising an All Student Vote, or that national strike action would take place over pensions. Unfortunately, a year (or 7 months at this point) is not a huge amount of time for all the ideas in sabbatical candidates manifestos, which is why I would love to be re-elected for another year so I can see my projects through to the end, have the time to implement more new ideas, and work on whatever new situations come up next year!

This question was also only asked to EvieAnswered by Evie on 26/02/18 14:01

Do you think one of the reasons SUSU consistently fails students could be due to the fact we don't have a designated democracy officer?

I’m a little unclear if your question refers to part-time officers or sabbaticals (one of the things I want to sort out once and for all is the language the Union uses in elections and for its elected positions!), so I’ll go ahead and answer for both. In terms of a part time officer/student leader, I think it’s a very broad remit for a student to have. Democracy covers everything from the obvious elections, to day to day society running, to some serious confidential issues. I am looking at the possibility of expanding the democracy zone however, as it’s the smallest one, and as part of the review of the sabbatical officers I will also be looking at the roles of part-time officers/student leaders. In terms of a sabbatical officer, its certainly a question that has come up when looking at the sabbatical roles, and there will be student consultation on the roles for thoughts and ideas. I would also add that in working on democracy, I’m well supported in the role by the wider representation team, including the VP Education. We’ll see what comes out in consultation! In terms of the framing of your question however, I take some issue. I will be the first to say that the Union is imperfect, and doesn’t get everything right, but I think there are so many areas where we don’t fail students; our academic representation structures looked after by Sam D, the amazing welfare campaigns Sam H has run this year, Arun’s dedication to going to ALL 7 campuses (even Malaysia), Steve’s work for Women in Sport…there’s so much more I could say. Yes we can absolutely improve and we haven’t always got everything right, but I know members of the sabbatical team (and I would include myself in that) have worked so hard this year in the face of some stiff budget cuts to societies and the wider Union to try and ensure student representation and opportunities are as open and effective as possible, and that they don’t fail students. However, I of course welcome your feedback on this area and will take in into consideration going forward.

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Tom BrownAnswered by Evie on 26/02/18 15:22

What performing arts societies performances have you seen this year?

Evie has not answered this question yet

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Tom Brown

Budget

  • 1 x Cinema Screen Advert - £6.00
  • 1 x TV Screens Advert - £5.00
  • 20 x A4 Poster - £3.00
  • 20 x A3 Poster - £6.00
  • 1000 x Flyers - £20.00
  • 1000 x Flyers - £3.00