Matt Cowley

Candidate for Union President

  • Oppose the planned cuts, whilst pushing for improvements
  • Make SUSU the most student-run Union in the world
  • Put £1,000 of my salary into society funding
  • Improve support for society committees
  • Install borrowable bikes on campuses and at halls of residences

Why vote for me?

Hi, I'm Matt and I want to be your next Union President. At Southampton, I've experienced the Union from every angle: as a society President, part time officer, academic representative, Zone member, and increasingly frustrated student.

My plan is simple: put the U back in Union by putting you at the heart of SUSU. I'll stand up for students and oppose cuts, whilst pushing for improvements; I'll make SUSU the most student-run Union in the world and put students at the heart of running SUSU; and I'll implement new ways to support societies, including taking £1,000 out of my salary to put into society funding.

Standing up for students:

  • Oppose any cuts at the university that will affect the student experience, and instead lobby for cost-savings in Vice Chancellor and executive pay, unused properties, and wastage.
  • Lobby for Union and University jobs to be advertised first internally within the university community, before they are advertised elsewhere.
  • Install borrowable bikes on campuses and halls.
  • Turn Bar 2 into a relaxed study space/internet cafe.

Put students at the heart of SUSU:

  • Establish a Scrutiny Committee to ensure Sabbs deliver for you.
  • Remove the limit on voting members on the Union's Zones, so that any student can contribute to decision-making, not just a small elected group.
  • Introduce student-led "Your Voice, Your Choice" consultations on a range of issues: fees; accommodation; transport; etc. where the Union actively gets feedback to create new goals for how key areas should be managed.
  • Create a clear recall process for student leaders and Sabbs, so students can remove officers who aren't doing what they promised.
  • Host a once-monthly President's Question Time.
  • Hold once-monthly focus groups to allow the Union to get feedback and ideas.
  • Make the Union's disciplinary process independent by having the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee elected by students, not by SUSU officers as it is now.
  • Introduce a Union induction during Freshers' week, so that new students understand how to influence decisions and where to get help, right from their first week in Southampton.
  • Establish a permanent representation of the Union at Winchester and the NOC, with Sabbs regularly working at each site.

Supporting Societies:

  • Create a "President's Prize" to fund a society project: taking £1,000 out of my salary and allowing societies to apply for it, before handing over the decision-making process to you in an All-Student Vote.
  • Host regular Society networking events to allow committees to meet one another and key Union staff.
  • Create a Sponsorship Interface between societies and potential sponsors, where the Union finds organisations who match our societies' needs.
  • Introduce training and team-building opportunities for society committees and work with them to ensure that their activities are accessible to all students, including those with physical disabilities and mental health conditions.

I've got the experience to be Union President and a track record of success. Want to know more? Find me on Facebook at or visit my campaign website:

Vote Matt Cowley to put the U back in Union.


Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

Would you help the relevant person push for The Stag's to change their food selection? I don't know a single person who does not think that Stag's pizza is worse than Tesco Value pizza, but twice the price.

Hi there, I’d be happy to support any students who wanted to change the food selection at Stag’s. I’d like to incorporate a review of the food provision offered in Union outlets as part of my “Your Voice, Your Choice” consultations, so rest assured that I’d give you the opportunity to have your say on the quality of pizza at Stag’s and work to make sure that your suggestions get acted on!

This question was also asked to Shanelle Webb, Emily Dawes, Lii Mohamed, Tom PethickAnswered by Matt on 19/02/18 11:29

How is the ‘Scrutiny committee’ you mention in your manifesto any different from the elected senators that attend each Senate meeting?

Hi there, in essence the scrutiny committee aims to add another layer of more intimate one-to-one scrutiny that Senate doesn't provide, in my opinion. Senate would retain its scrutiny role and still be a vital part of scrutinising Sabbs, but it could also return to being a little more policy-focussed with the Scrutiny Committee supplementing its scrutiny role to provide that extra level of accountability.

This question was also only asked to MattAnswered by Matt on 19/02/18 21:10

How would you replace a Sabb if they’re ‘recalled’ for not ‘doing what they promised’?

Good question! I think it would obviously depend on the circumstances - time of year, whether a by-election is viable or not, etc. - but I'd want to talk to other Unions that have recalled Sabbs before and take best practices from them.

This question was also only asked to MattAnswered by Matt on 19/02/18 21:30

How are you going to take £1,000 out of your wage if you’re only paid around ~£1,500 per month? Is this not just buying votes from larger societies who could win this vast sum next year?

Hi there, so I'd have to talk to the Students' Union about the specifics of whether it was taken out as a lump-sum or whether it was deducted from the £21,000 pa salary across the year, but I'd be happy with either approach. As for the second half of your question, simply: no, it's not buying votes at all. It's saying that the salary of £21,000 per year for a Union President is a lot of money in a context of decreasing Union funding and funding for societies, and that the best way for me to show that I'm serious about wanting to find more money for societies is to put my money where my mouth is and say that my salary is a good first place to source some extra money.

This question was also only asked to MattAnswered by Matt on 19/02/18 21:45

You say that you believe the £21,000pa salary of your position to be too high in the current climate of decreased academic funding. However, you only aim to reduce this by £1,000 which would still place you above the average salary of £18,500 for a SU president (The Tab, 2015). Therefore, do you believe that you, and the actions that you will undertake within this role, justify an above average salary? Also, would it also not benefit the students more if you reduced your net salary to £18,500 in order to place £2,500 back into the union rather than £1,000?

£20,000 might be above average for SU Presidents nationally but it’s £1,000 below the average for Southampton Sabbs and gives away £1,000 more than any of my opponents have promised to. A £2,500 giveaway would be wonderful and I did consider trying to give away more, but unfortunately it just wouldn’t have been financially sustainable for me personally to give away more than the £1,000, and I didn’t want to promise anything I wasn’t sure I could deliver.

This question was also only asked to MattAnswered by Matt on 20/02/18 15:08

Do you have any plans to specifically help the male students on campus? When I see so much focus on sexual consent and awareness I sometimes worry about the language that is being used and how men are often being generalised into an enemy. It's not rape or sexual assault if you regret it the morning after, for example. How are you going to ensure that men's issues are well represented?

Hi there, I think it is important to remember that sexual consent is about protecting everyone, regardless of their gender. Raising awareness about sexual consent is not about demonising men or generalising them into an enemy, it's about ensuring that no-one gets sexually assaulted. As for the second half of your question about men's issues being represented, I think it's important that SUSU is a place where everyone can be heard and the Union I would lead would be one where all issues could be raised and addressed.

This question was also asked to Shanelle Webb, Emily Dawes, Lii Mohamed, Tom PethickAnswered by Matt on 21/02/18 22:34

I have two questions: 1) What are your policies on dealing with union staff or Saabs who are not doing their job? Would there be a portal where students or volunteer officers can report that? If so, who would the complaint reach? And would sufficient action be taken against them? 2) How do you plan to address the 'clique' culture in SUSU? Many students are against joining the union for this reason and have a negative view of the union. In my experience, many times information is passed on through who you're friends with rather than what you role is, which understandably causes friction. Are you aware of this issue? If so, do you have any plans to address or change it?

To answer 1), I want to introduce a whole new range of policies that make Sabbatical Officers (and student leaders) much more accountable to the students who voted for them. This includes new processes like the ability to recall Sabbs and student leaders who aren't doing their jobs; new events like President's Question Time where students can hold me to account; and new structures like the Scrutiny Committee which holds Sabbs to account on a more individual basis. I'm also looking at other means of holding officers to account and this will be one of the things covered by a "Your Voice, Your Choice" consultation, where I'll actively seek students' input on how they want Sabbs to be held to account. As for Union staff, I'm loathe to give you a concrete answer without knowing the HR processes that already exist. As for 2), I am very aware of the "clique" in SUSU. In my time at Southampton, I have seen the divide between those who understand how SUSU works and are embedded into the Union, and those who are not. The problem is that SUSU tries to engage those who aren't engaged using the experiences of those in the "clique" - what I want to do is go and talk to those who aren't engaged with SUSU and find new ways to communicate information to and get feedback from them. It's vital that we change the culture of SUSU from being a Union which expects students to come to it to engage and be heard, into one where it goes to all students to find out what they want.

This question was also asked to Shanelle Webb, Emily Dawes, Lii Mohamed, Tom PethickAnswered by Matt on 25/02/18 11:06

If your plan to donate £1000 of your salary to societies is voted on by students, do you think the "popular" societies or the societies with the most members would win each time? How would you make this unequivocally fair?

Hi there, this has come up a lot so thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer it here! I’m fully committed to making this process as fair as possible, so I’d want to look into ways to ensure this. Right now, my idea would be for the Union to run the campaigns for each idea, have the ideas anonymised as far as possible, and prevent societies directly campaigning on them. I think that would enable a fair and engaging process where the best project for students was chosen, rather than simply allowing big societies to dominate it.

This question was also only asked to MattAnswered by Matt on 27/02/18 15:50


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