Tom Brown

Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries

Key Points

  • Wants to improve Accountability, Communication, Awareness within SUSU
  • Democracy - Improve understanding of SUSU and how to get involved
  • PA - Better funding feedback, Communication & investigate spaces
  • Media - Promote their work & provide specialised training days
  • Experienced & Dedicated member of our Union

Why vote for me?

VOTE TOM BROWN FOR VP DCI The general themes of my policies are: Accountability, Communication, Awareness - Three areas that need to be improved across the board to create a better Union. I’ve been involved in this Union and its Democracy from my first week where I decided to run for Halls President. Since then I’ve taken advantage of many opportunities provided by SUSU from committee positions, to being a student trustee, to enjoying shows and events and now I want to give back. Make...(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?

Oooh my first question! Well I think it is very important to remember the issues in the past when it has come to Democracy and SUSU like you have pointed out. I don't think anyone involved in those would 100% stand by them as successes so it is important to learn from them. I think a key part of that is to put students back at the heart of SUSU and its decision making process. Through the use of Petitions, You Make Change and my manifesto policy of improving understanding the democratic structure and processes of our Union I think that will go a long way in helping repair trust in a system. Fundamentally you can not trust a system you do not fully understand. So, I think learning from the mistakes of the past, improving knowledge of democracy within SUSU AND putting Students at the heart and at the start of decision making is how we reverse this trend, reclaim trust and start getting SUSU running like clockwork! If you have anymore questions please keep asking away and if you want to know more about what my plans are you can always check out my Facebook :) thank you

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Evie ReillyAnswered by Tom on 21/02/18 12:49

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

Ah a classic question for DCI candidates to answer! But sadly the answer is not so simple. While most of my committee and university experience comes from the CI zone, this year being a student trustee and back in my days as Halls President I became very engaged with the Democracy side of SUSU so I struggle to really be able to separate the two. It is why this role is so fantastic because it combines two very interesting and ultimately important areas. I think my manifesto really reflects this as I spent a lot of time working out how best to create change within both these zones and came up with a lot of ideas that are fairly original and I hope prove to be effective if I were to be elected. Like I said during Meet the Candidates on SUSUtv/Surge Radio, the Union is more than just this cash cow. We can offer so much more to our students then just throwing money at the issue or promising everyone more funding when in realistic terms money is tighter these days. These two zones drive a lot of the student experience from getting involved with SUSU to performing in Musicals or creating/watching films so really I feel like I am equally a candidate for both.

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Evie ReillyAnswered by Tom on 24/02/18 14:58

Whos your favourite Disney Princess?

Well if I were to be cheeky I would say Princess Leia has the Star Wars franchise is perhaps my favourite movie franchise. But if I had to pick in the more traditional sense... probably Belle from Beauty & the Beast has it was perhaps the Disney princess film I have seen the most mainly because my mum loved it.

This question was also only asked to TomAnswered by Tom on 24/02/18 14:53

You said in a public forum "The standards have dropped significantly", regarding the Wessex Scene. If you really think that's the case, how have they, and what would you do to raise them?

This comment was made in regards to how I felt some stories were being covered and it led to some interesting discussions with those over at the Scene. In other areas I think they have excelled this year with the printed publications in particular standing out in my mind. I think an element of this could have been down to a lack of support our student media outlets have received across the board this year. If I were to be elected, I have already stated I would keen to provide that leadership once again without stepping on the toes of those student leaders elected into their roles (In regards to Wessex Scene I'm excited by the ideas Ivan has). I would also seek to improve career and training days not just for print & broadcast media but also for other areas of CI in order to let those students involved become more excited and learn more about their passion and how they can turn it into a reality.

This question was also only asked to TomAnswered by Tom on 24/02/18 14:52

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 think it is an interesting idea. But at the same time we have a designated democracy full-time officer so you would expect more consistency from that alone. I think part of the issue in the past has been a disconnect between the students and what the full-time officer have wanted. I think this could potentially due to poor engagement during elections coupled with lack of effective use of the democratic structures already in place/people not knowing what they can do to influence decisions throughout the year. This is why my campaign has a big focus on increasing understanding, communication and accountability. If students come at the start of the decision making process rather than the end that will hopefully bring an end to this consistent failing.

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Evie ReillyAnswered by Tom on 26/02/18 11:44

What performing arts societies performances have you seen this year?

Ah a bit more of a fun question after a series of deep ones! I will admit that my main focus when it comes to watching PA performances is influenced by my love of theatre and my lack of time so most of the ones I have seen come from the Theatrical part of PA. From the top of my head I can remember Fame, Red Mist, Dorian Grey. Charlie Brown was a very good performance so they deserve another applause for that one. I was gutted to miss Jerusalem through illness but stumbled upon the recording of Ruddygore and thought it was brilliant! Speaking for the rest of the year, I'm looking forward to Oregen Trail, She Loves Me, American Idiot and It Was Broken When We Got Here. Side note, last year Bonnie & Clyde was exceptional <3

This question was also asked to Chris Hartland, Evie ReillyAnswered by Tom on 27/02/18 12:22

You have a background in Media, but obviously the CI zone covers many areas. What are your experiences/interests in these areas?

Outside of Media, the CI zone is essentially the Performing Arts. This is an area that I have had a lot of love for since doing my Drama GCSE & A-Level back in the day. I have thoroughly enjoyed the shows I have seen put on by our Theatrical Peforming Arts groups such as Showstoppers and TG as this is primarily the area I have the most personal interest. The amount of money I have spent on theatre tickets in my life is probably eye watering but Hamilton made it all worth it! I have enjoyed my experience with the Dance PA such as helping out at Pure Dance last year and very much looking forward to it again this year as well as keep up to date through my friends in the societies. Music I would love to engage with more if I am honest but I always seem to find out about their events very last minute or just after they pass which is sad and it is something that if I were to be elected would be addressed with my manifesto ideas.

This question was also only asked to TomAnswered by Tom on 26/02/18 12:02

What sets you apart from the two other candidates?

I believe I offer the best package. I bring a lot of experience and knowledge of SUSU, how it works, and where it has gone wrong and causes frustration. I have held numerous positions from committee roles to Halls President to Student Trustee. I have a lot of experience and engagement within the CI zone beyond my committee positions. I have gone out and tried to talk to students from all aspects of the role. I believe that I am the only candidate that has addressed issue in all areas from Democracy to PA to Media without seemingly neglecting one of the above. I know that nearly all of the candidates have a background in Creative Industries and a first-hand understanding of the issues facing CI today but how they approach this differs. I think it is dangerous to try and settle CI zone into different camps. I believe that as a candidate I can bring the zone together more so than my opponents. And I think if I was successful and became VP DCI, I would be a VP that any society or student would know they could come to and be treated with respect, know their issue was heard, and that I would not stop until I could find some sort of solution. It is time to fix communication, repair relationships and start moving forward together.

This question was also asked to Chris HartlandAnswered by Tom on 27/02/18 12:10

In the last few years all VP DCIs have had a background in media which has resulted in Performing Arts (PA) being neglected. Performing Arts represents over 4,000 students. In recent years rehearsal spaces and funding have been taken away from PA and given to sports without providing suitable alternatives. Most PA societies now struggle to stay afloat let alone make any success. How would you ensure the sustainability of PA in the long term without a PA background?

Well that depends what you regard as Media! But broadly speaking they have not come from the PA area of CI zone yes. Having a background in an area does not mean guaranteed success in any sense. As you have pointed out in recent years the DCIs have had a "media" background but that does not mean that in every year that Media has had special privilege or even felt supported themselves. I think it is dangerous to try and split the CI zone into camps. I don't see myself as a "media" candidate. I got involved in media via my involvement with SUSU more broadly. I loved my Drama & Theatre Studies A-Level back in the day but did not feel talented enough or really have the time to commit to a PA society. So for me the talk of "backgrounds" attempts to avoid talk of what really matters and a real debate of ideas. As you have pointed out, PA societies have felt out in the cold and struggling and for me that is completely disgraceful. No society or student should feel frustrated. But it is important to remember we can not go around promising endless funding and endless space to all of our societies cause that kind of promise is simply misleading and dishonest. Two things I do not intend to do. I believe fundamentally things need to change which is why I want to start from the bottom up when it comes to reviewing how funding works, kickstarting the relationship & communication, working with societies beyond being a money bank. What I would hope by the end of my year is that PA feels back at the heart of the Union again. Sure maybe not every thing will be 100% perfect, not every one will get all the funding or infinite space. But by working together, fixing previous wrongs, moving forward, and investigating alternatives when it comes to finance and rehearsal spaces we can ensure the sustainability of the Performing Arts. And then if I become DCI and achieve all this, it would be an area of the highest importance in any handover. This would all hopefully ensure the future of PA all without having a direct background in PA.

This question was also asked to Evie ReillyAnswered by Tom on 27/02/18 12:04

You mentioned in one of your campiagn points about 'updating the susu website'. The web developers of SUSU already have a massive backlog of tasks and are currently recruiting new developers. ( https://www.susu.org/work-with-us/about/195/web-developer.html ) Have you not spoken to anyone or even checked the job pages to see that this is already in progress?

I actually have spoken to those within the Union that are in charge of this. My position within SUSU being a Student Trustee allowed me to not only know about future plans but also gave me a great working relationship with those involved. That is why it is on my manifesto. I would not make a promise I didn't know I could keep. That's the bottom line for me. I'm not assuming nor am I trying to mislead. I believe from the information I gathered that my plans for the website are very much achievable. At the end of the day the basics of updating information are very much achievable as well as having reassurances that my other plans for the website could very much be achieved within my term.

This question was also only asked to TomAnswered by Tom on 27/02/18 11:52

One of your campaign points is about using union advertising and social media to help promote Union Films. However I can see that Union Films already advertising all of their screenings on their website (and other social media), the SUSU website, the University SUSSED portal, the screens around SUSU, the Edge, Arts at Southampton, the SUSU facebook page also including a weekly newsletter and more. Don’t you think you should keep up to date with the Union’s social media activities or Union Films’?

Someone has been keeping a close eye on me haha. This addition was made after many students brought to my attention their frustration at missing out on screenings. I then took a look having often had the same issue myself and I noticed that while they have a large presence it could perhaps be done more effectively and with more assistance from the Union. I for one don't really pay attention to the SUSSED portal so while that might work some students it clearly does not work for all. It is why this did not make it into my main manifesto as it is not as major an issue as say the relationship with PA. But as my manifesto will see an overhaul in how we promote CI and use social media and the website etc it felt important to include.

This question was also only asked to TomAnswered by Tom on 27/02/18 11:49


Tom has not spent any of their budget yet