Emily Dawes

Candidate for Union President

  • Sexual assault/consent awareness through education, campaigns and staff training
  • A more streamlined and efficient online feedback system to sabs
  • Replace plastic on campus with eco-friendly, affordable options
  • Comprehesive resources for mental and physical illnesses/disabilities/
  • Alternative career fayres (not just "big name" companies)

Why vote for me?

Hey friends, Emily Dawes here. Brace yourself for my extra as heck manifesto for the role of Union President!!! If you don’t want to read the fine print (you should) then I’ve bulleted my main ideas under each section so feel free to have a glance. You can also find me on facebook or twitter (@dawesy22) if you have any questions.


  • Updated monthly blog from sabs
  • Streamlined, online feedback system from us to you and vice versa
  • Pushing an honest open-door policy with the sabs

Even though all of us are part of the student union, not everyone knows what that means or even what the union is for. We need to know how we’re doing, whether or not we’re heading in the right direction and how we can change if needs be. The feedback needs to reach us quickly and effectively, occasionally bypassing the union altogether if needs be.


  • Disabled access ramps
  • Comprehensive mental health services
  • Unisex toilets
  • Social media accessible to multiple cultures and languages

At the moment we primarily rely on email and word of mouth to get news about the union around. Not only do we have to up our social media game, but it needs to reach ALL 23,000 students and account for cultural/lingual differences. Our mental health services need improving too so that students have professional and affordable help, especially for less well-known diagnoses like BPD, OCD and bipolar disorder.


  • Education and awareness
  • Stronger working relationship with SCA
  • Sexual consent/assault awareness training
  • Improving resources offered to victims

In keeping with the success of the #metoo campaign, as President I’d like to tackle sexual assault on campus and provide help to anyone that needs it. Having worked as President of the Feminist Society for 2 years now, the sexual assault problem on campus is far worse than meets the eye and thus needs our full attention.


  • Reduce plastic cutlery and packaging
  • Using eco-friendly alternatives where possible
  • Mass water fountain installation
  • Comprehensive recycling information on/off campus

Having held an open place on the sustainability zone this year, becoming an eco-friendlier university in an efficient, affordable manner is easier than I had initially thought. Working together as a union, I’m confident that we can vastly reduce our environmental footprint and help the local community to reduce theirs too.


  • Alternative career fayres
  • Stronger alumni support network
  • New postgrad officer position and extra support for current officers

Finally, we don’t want to stop caring about you just because you’re moving on to the ~real world~, so my final push as president is for more accessible resources that help with post grad life. This includes more career fayres with less obvious options, not just the same big names each year, for each department. We also need to strengthen our alumni support network for those who need it.

P.S. Big thanks to anyone still reading


Questions & Answers Ask me a Question

In your answer about "Free Speech" in your Wessex Scene interview you say "that's not opinions". What is your definition of opinion and how does believing in white supremacy not constitute an opinion? Moving on. You say that "if your thoughts and speeches and opinions are putting a barrier on someone’s basic rights to live, that’s where I don’t justify it" and "if your opinions are preventing people from being human and living, then I won’t entertain it". Holding an opinion is a basic, fundamental right that may not ever be infringed and is in the foundation of free modern society. This is because opinions and thoughts themselves are not a threat - only dictatorial regimes thought otherwise. It is the deed of acting upon those beliefs that can be a threat. What constitutes an "act" is open for debate. While it can be argued that holding speeches is an "act", it seems from what you said that you think opinions can infringe others' rights. Despite, I think you say you wouldn't justify hate speech, and not people's rights to hold controversial beliefs, am I correct? Further to that, would you agree that debates on fundamental human rights (right to life, respect, etc) shall not be held as these rights are firmly established in our society, but debates on more controversial topics, for example the gender pay gap, should be held, as these allow for truth to be uncovered via intelligent conversation?

Hiya, thanks so much for the question! So I answered a very similar question in my Meet the Candidates interview, which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/SUSUtv/videos/1825372010828646/?hc_ref=ARSrDMqLJ686NhvcllOXX4qv7X6Qk7U6lDvHSGUmwZey29LexkTSQ4ZUEAlxmUFEPps&pnref=story But to answer your question here: Having an opinion and being able to share it without consequence is a basic human right and I would never take that away from someone. The beauty of elections is that students can share their opinions and be heard by a body that can actually make change, which is what I hope to do. So when I say I don't justify hate speech I simply mean speech that fails to protect other basic human rights, like freedom of speech itself. If what you are preaching and advocating for is going to hinder someone else's right to life, liberty, happiness, sexuality, work etc then I would not support that direction. You're correct in saying that thoughts themselves are not a threat, and as President I would never tell a student that their thoughts are incorrect, but I draw the line at making policy and enacting change that would infringe upon another student's time at university. The best way to resolve these issues, however, is by opening a dialogue. Whether that is through a simple conversation or debate, I will be open to facilitating these discussions and ensuring all students are heard. It is not my place to decide what our students should be thinking. It is my place to make sure all opinions are being heard and deciding which actions to take to benefit all students. I hope that answered your question! Feel free to email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk if you have any follow ups or just post them here!

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:14

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.

As someone who can only have the vegan cheese with a handful of olives on a damp base, I'm going to have to make some time for this issue. Either find something else or fix your pizza oven Stags smh.

This question was also asked to Matt Cowley, Shanelle Webb, Lii Mohamed, Tom PethickAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:16

I LOVE your idea of career fayres will less obvious options but with regards to creating an alumni support network, how would you go about doing this? Or at least, what ideas have you got so far?

Hey thanks so much! At the moment, I simply want to create a way to keep alumni in touch with each other and the university if they would like. Some students will graduate and never think about Southampton again, but for those of us who want to use the resources and connections here I think their should be means to do so. Firstly, there should be an area on the SUSU website that ONLY post-grads have access to for any questions or concerns they might have. These will go straight to the post-graduate committee who can find the right person to answer the query. This will also help to strengthen the relationship between the post-grad community and the university. Secondly, I would like to hold more events at Southampton for both post-grads that have graduated and those who have stayed on for further study. There needs to be a stronger push for support. I hope that answered your question, and feel free to email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk for any follow ups!

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:21

During Meet the Candidates, you said: “We need something that allows students to say “this is the issue”, “this is how we dealt with it”, “this is the resolution” and if students don’t like that still, there needs to be a way that students can say “we don’t like that, do it again”” about SUSU's disciplinary procedures. Are you advocating a process where students, student reps or sabbatical officers accused of disciplinary matters are able to be tried again at the request of the students?

Hey thanks so much for asking this question. For such an important and relevant issue, some clarification is always helpful. I stand by the fact that if students are not happy with how an issue (no matter how big or small) has been dealt with, then there needs to be a way that they can let us know. In the past year alone there have been cases of racism, sexism, ableism etc that have not been followed up and if they were dealt with, students never saw this resolution. In the future, I would like for there to be an option for students to flag up a case, maybe on the same page as the complaint process on the website. This allows us and the university to decide the next step. In some cases, it might be releasing some information on how the problem was dealt with so that students feel more satisfied with our response. In other cases, it might mean taking the problem through another sort of complaint process with more input from the students. I think in the long run this will also allow us to see how to tackle similar issues in the future. I hope this answered your question in enough detail! If not, feel free to email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk.

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:26

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?

Hiya, thanks for raising such an important issue. Firstly, I apologise if any of my campaigning has left out any of the groups we represent here at Southampton. As I've stressed, the most important part of the President's role is ensuring ALL students are heard and validated on and off of campus. When it comes to sexual assault, I would never exclude men from the narrative. It is an issue that negatively affects men in more ways than I think some people imagine. For example, not only does sexual assault happen to men way more often than is talked about, but some conversations seem to blame the "natural aggression" of men for sexual assault, which is just totally false. This is why one of my actions for sexual consent awareness is education! People need to know what we're talking about and how it affects all people of all genders, including men. I think a lot of the time people talk about sexual assault more in terms of women, and especially of transwomen, because it does happen so disproportionately often to them. And while it is important to ensure we help those affected, we must remember that sexual assault survivors can be anyone. Hope that answers your question, and if not please feel free to follow it up on here or email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk!

This question was also asked to Matt Cowley, Shanelle Webb, Lii Mohamed, Tom PethickAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:32

At least 2/3 of your plans for “post graduates” are about the relationship between the Union and students after they have graduated. Don’t you think that advertising this as being for postgrads is misleading, given that these aren’t specific to postgraduate students, a large portion of the university community? Also, your only policy within that section that seems to be aimed at postgrads is to create a new postgrad officer position - given that we already have a Postgraduate (Research) and a Postgraduate (Taught) Oficer, what do you envision this third officer actually doing?

I think this is a super important point so thank you for asking this question! One of the reasons I have dedicated such a large portion of my manifesto to post grads is that I think they're overlooked by the union and university. As an undergrad, feedback from you is vital to helping me understand what you need from a President! I have spoken to the post grad committee about the extra position, and it turns out that with the people they already have it seems a little redundant to have an extra committee member. I think what would be way more useful is how much exposure the committee get. More often than not they are treated like a society and not a committee who represent almost 7000 students. I'd like to work with VP communities and the university much more closely to change the way we interact with post grads and their committee. This means weekly feedback from them and what they need, ensuring that their communication officer is talking to the right people! I hope this answers your question and if you need any further clarification, feel free to email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk!

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:40

Hi Emily, one of your big manifesto points is about transparency but you’ve answered no questions on this site in the last week. How can we trust you to be a transparent Sabb if you’re not being a transparent candidate?

Thanks for the question! Absolutely, you need a candidate and a President who is willing to answer all their questions honestly and quickly. With my schedule planned out for the week, I had only allocated specific time to answer these questions, hence why you're seeing this now! It seems that it would be way more beneficial for me, you and all the students to allocate just a few minutes each day for feedback! This campaign has really shown me what needs prioritising as a union, and quick, consistent feedback is key. I will always answer any question, even if I have to be honest and say I don't know, but I'll look into it. Sometimes it does take me a little longer than it should, just because of my busy timetable but not in an excuse kind of way!! Just in a "this is why these took so long" kind of way. I hope this helps? And if not please feel free to contact me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 24/02/18 13:46

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?

Thanks for such great questions! I think accountability within the union is super important and needs addressing, especially following on from certain events this year. 1. With regards to dealing with staff/sabs, at the moment we have a page on the website dedicated to sending in your complaint to the union who then decide the best course of action. However, this is not very well known and often leads to problems being swept under the rug once they are deemed "solved". I think there needs to be a way to send in an anonymous suggestions/complaints via all society, union and academic pages, so that students immediately see where to flag up their issues. Also, if there is a way to get it on to the Southampton App and have it clearly on the first page, I think that will allow students to have their voices heard a lot more easily. The complaint should go straight to the student support department in the union who would hopefully agree on the safest and most effective resolution. If students were still unhappy with how the issue was handled, it would be easy for them to make a "follow up" query using the same format as the initial complaints. If needs be, there could also be a way to anonymously submit a complaint form somewhere on campus, either by the advice center or the union building. 2. I'm so glad this issue has been raised, and I definitely think a lot of the candidates this year are more aware of the "union bubble/clique" as I've heard it been called. I've definitely been a part of that clique in the past with my involvement in the Gateway Halls Committee and the Sustainability Zone. You're right that information only seems to pass on to those who either search for it or have a way in to the "clique". I think we need to change this by becoming a union that reaches out to its students instead of waiting for them to find us. Not only during freshers, but throughout student's degrees, we need to work hard with VP engagement to ensure all of our students have equal access to our resources. Whether that's via social media, campaigns, posters, leaflets, events etc., we need to make sure we stay accessible. I hope that answers your questions. If you need any more detail or clarification, feel free to email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk, or follow up on here!

This question was also asked to Matt Cowley, Shanelle Webb, Lii Mohamed, Tom PethickAnswered by Emily on 28/02/18 16:48

Do you think semi-nude photographs of yourself like the one you posted on your twitter is an appropriate campaign tool for someone aiming to be union president?

Quite frankly, yes. I believe I am a strong contender for the position, my policies deal with important issues, with lots of room for improvement, and my message is inclusive and tangible. Therefore, the way I present myself online or in person has very little to do with my Presidential run, in my opinion. In an age where we encourage freedom of expression and self-love, putting up pictures of myself that I enjoy should be celebrated. As someone who has struggled with body issues their whole life, it is important for me to be able to share my progress and happiness with my own self. I would also hope it inspires many people around me to look at themselves in a different, more gentle light and to learn to love themselves the same way that I am trying to. The picture you are referring to is a play on the age old joke of "I am totally aware my butt is in this picture, but let me pretend it isn't". It was just some harmless fun that also allowed me to break through the struggle of a world that doesn't allow women to express their bodies and sexualities. I hope that answers your question.

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 28/02/18 11:05

From your answer to a previous question, can I confirm that you are proposing allowing students who have been cleared in a disciplinary process to have their cases re-opened if students are unhappy with the verdict? If so, do you not think that this will negatively impact students unfairly accused of disciplinary offences by people with a personal grievance against them? If the law doesn’t allow unnecessary re-trials, why should SUSU?

I'm really pleased you asked this question because it was not something I had fully considered, but is a really important aspect of any trialling process. I think firstly, none of us are too certain as to what the full complaint process is because at the moment it's kept sort of behind closed doors. Therefore even if issues are being resolved, we don't get to find out what the solutions are. The first step is to make the process a lot more transparent and available to students, so we can see if the problems are being dealt with in the first place. If a student then wanted to make a further complaint because they felt like it wasn't handled seriously/properly, there needs to be a way for them to do so. It would then be up to whoever necessary (potentially independent of the initial action) to decide whether or not to approve the second round of processing. I hope that clarifies my position a little more, and if not please email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk or follow up on here!

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 28/02/18 17:00

I have noticed you approach better accessibility for most places and as well giving some attention to Postgraduate students. However, one of the issues I have noticed in University does not seem to be addressed - University open hours. Most facilities close after 6 pm and apart from Library and few computer rooms, closed for the whole weekend. Some of the students, especially engineering, need to have access to different equipment for as long as possible and to not being able to access some areas because of downtime or because it is 6 pm, seems strange to me when Engineering side of this University is one of the best out there. Can this issue be addressed and somehow solved if you will be elected as president?

Absolutely this needs resolving! I think there are two issues at hand here: 1. There isn't any consistency in the opening times of the buildings on different campuses and 2. There aren't enough facilities open to students who need campus-specific resources after 6pm. The first step is looking into the re-allocation of space in the evenings because we have the space and resources available, but they're not being used to maximum capacity. This includes not having lectures in rooms that are too small or without proper writing space. However, we also need to consider the requirements for such spaces, such as the need for computers, outlets or lab equipment. The next step would be to set up a scheduled system during the week that makes space for these allocations. I would advise against taking any current spaces from students though because at the moment I do not think that is necessary. However, I think both steps are possible and we should make some space in the future for it.

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 28/02/18 18:49

How will you work with your Sabb team to make sure that there is a united effort to better the lives of students using the individual strengths of the different offices? In a great students union there is always a sense of being part of something bigger than oneself: a community of respect, equality, fun and common struggle. How will you, as president, achieve this?

What's really cool is that, already, the other candidates and I have started to form proper friendships out of this experience. There's been a lot to deal with these last 2 weeks and it's reassuring to know that no matter what, I'll have a team that support each other through tough times! I'd like to think we could all carry this forward into the sab team and throughout next year. While I don't expect anyone to be friends with 100% of their team, it's important to listen to each other with open minds, so that at least you can figure out where the kinks are early on in the process. I think it was obvious this year when the sab team had disagreements because it slowed a lot of the actions and campaigns down. As long as we all keep the students first, I hope we can get along well enough to get things done! I hope that this answers your question, but if you'd like any further clarifications email me at ed5g15@soton.ac.uk

This question was also only asked to EmilyAnswered by Emily on 28/02/18 18:41


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