Candidates’ Critique: VP Welfare

qm elections banner 1VP WELFAREThe Vice President Welfare, according to QMSU, is an individual who “represents and campaigns on matters relating to access to education, such as public transport and student finance, equality of opportunity and student welfare. They represent students in the blah bahha herryerygh fdkgahh…”

This person is generally expected to do their best to look out for students on the issues of under-representation, housing, mental well-being, campaigning, integration, and anything else which you can lump under this category. Oh, and ‘community’, a meaningless elections buzzword which involves an agglomeration of all of the above.

It should be noted to all readers, voters, and candidates, that the VP Welfare does not have control or remit over financing, salaries, or food & drink prices.

All information has been sourced from manifestos, videos, and (a sneak peak at) QMessenger’s candidates’ questionnaire.

PART 1: Candidates’ Critique VP Welfare
PART 2: Candidates’ Critique VP Education
PART 3: Candidates’ Critique President

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Sam Doherty Banner

Propaganda: Dynamic Manifesto | Manifesto | Twitter | Maverick Website | Maverick Facebook | Maverick Twitter

Previous Experience: Anti-racism campaigner; anti-bedroom tax campaigner; Anti-cuts campaigner

Flagship Policy: Arguably the most revolutionary, Sam pledges to incentivise the role of part-time liberation officers, offering eight hours’ worth of pay per week. This will be done in conjunction with holding monthly meetings, with the aim of better holding them to account. While large questions arise around funding and logistics, this policy may go some way towards motivating some wishy-washy, part-time career-ladderist twats into actually doing something useful.

Housing: This will involve raising awareness about students’ legal rights, compiling a blacklist of untrusted landlords, and running a joint campaign with the housing service and local unions. All are within reach; the blacklist especially brave but there is doubt as to whether QMSU would sanction such a thing, while legal rights awareness and local campaigns are pragmatic alternatives to pan-London campaigns (given Sam’s campaigning connections).

Community: The ‘liberation’ policy would employ some form of ‘trickle down representation’ leading to a more long-term solution, provided the part-time officers could be held to account. Secondly, he would hope to address student drop-outs, by (albeit vaguely) ensuring “the union reaches out.” This policy, could tackle student disengagement at its core; provided the right methodology is employed.

Strongest Policy: The plan to incentivise the role of the part-time Liberation Officer. It’s exceedingly ambitious – given that the appropriate funding would need to be sourced – but, if successful, it would amount to the most significant sort of long-term change offered by any of the five candidates.

Weakest Policy: Though plans on targeting the drop out rate do not seem particularly detailed, (but this would presumably be done with cooperation from the VP Education), it would be Sam’s employability policy – reducing unpaid internships and the like – which seems the most challenging. There’s no doubting Sam’s campaigning experience, but this would be heavily reliant on external co-operation from the College.

In one word: Fighter.

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Kayah Banner

Propaganda: Manifesto | Video | Twitter | Uni ON Facebook | Uni ON Twitter | Uni ON Video

Previous Experience: Sports Officer 2012/13; Founder, Women’s Rugby.

Flagship Policy: Kayah adopts a dual focus on installing Microwaves and kettles onto campus, while planning to re-engage the average student. While the former is mostly unrealistic (as I’ll explain later), the latter seems achievable; given her own transition from disengaged engineer to Rugby women’s captain; one would assume she would be able relate.

Housing: It’s difficult to ascertain Kayah’s policy on housing, given that she doesn’t have one. That is, at least, according to her manifesto, Uni ON’s manifesto, her campaign video, and the answers from her QMessenger interview. So, everything.

Community: Among the primary concerns are promoting a number of particular societies, including LGBT, QMEquality, Ability, QMSpectrum, and many more. At the centre of Kayah’s bid to boost community is the idea to introduce (trained) volunteer “Student Advisors” who would presumably guide freshers and the under-represented via “a coffee and a chat.” Of course, coming from a sporting background, she also advocates using sport as a way to better integrate students, but Hail Mary/Merger may seem intimidating to the alienated non-sportsperson.

Strongest Policy: Her policy on International students has most merit. (Or at least it did, until I discovered it already exists – see edit). By lobbying the university to act as a ‘Guarantor’ Kayah hopes to ease the burden on foreign students (who have to pay rent six months in advance). There is also a will to increase the available hardship fund, said to be smaller compared with that available domestic students. Though bordering on the idealistic, this plan would make the most difference.

*Edit: The ‘International Guarantor Scheme’ is already a QMSU policy which was passed in Student Council in October 2012.

Weakest Policy: Installing microwaves and kettles on campus would be inherently impractical for a number of reasons. For starters, two microwaves already exist on campus, (Village Shop, Infusion). Secondly, it would bring forth a logistical nightmare (e.g.. which buildings would allow the devices to be installed) and thirdly, the plans could hit the revenue of campus venues, and arguably raise prices, contradicting Uni ON’s pledge to bring costs down. Besides, this is already a QMSU policy that is not being enforced.

In one word: Populist.

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Megan Banner

Propaganda: Manifesto | Video | Twitter

Previous Experience: Employee, Learning Cafe; Cub Travel Editor 2012/13.

Flagship Policy: Boycotting The Sun would be the first (and most achievable) task on Megan’s to-do list. This is certainly a very pragmatic policy and remains a unique draw. She is also the only candidate to have mentioned the welfare of student employees at QMSU venues.

Housing: The plan includes engaging with London campaigns, lobbying the housing service to increase its list of accredited Landlords, while holding students’ union tenant rights workshops. The pan-London campaign (many great predecessors have failed in the past) would be especially difficult, given ULU will no longer exist after May, but associating with organisations such as Tower Hamlets Renters would make up. But the rights workshops, if adequately organised and funded, would be a welcomed solution.

Community: Megan’s manifesto “came from speaking with students” and it shows. Her plan addresses liberation officers (by providing more training), reducing the stigma around mental wellness, and working with the sports team to provide a ‘sports fund’ to make sports clubs more accessible. But the manifesto does not cover the specifics.

Strongest Policy: Proposing a ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, and boycotting the Sun newspaper stands out. Not only is this realistic, (has already happened across other university campuses), but Megan could use this as a springboard towards raising awareness about issues related to sexism at Mile End in general. Also nobody likes the Sun.

Weakest Policy: The pledge to introduce the London Living Wage for student employees at QMSU venues does not seem feasible, nor would it be the greatest priority when it came to student employees. The use (or misuse) of zero-hour contracts would be first; coupled with the implementation of an adequate complaints procedure. Then, maybe afterwords, Megan could think about introducing the Living Wage, provided she lobbies fiercer than the smoothest tobacco salesman, and sources the funding.

In one word: Misunderstood.

Edit: Megan plans to “engage” with pan-London campaigns including Tower Hamlets Renters, not run one herself. Megan would also like to point out she plans to have a consultation on zero-hour contracts, and a complaints procedure, for student employees.

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Francis Banner

Propaganda: Manifesto | Twitter | Facebook

Previous Experience: Leader, ASPIRE 2012; Leader, READ International.

Flagship Policy: Frances prioritises expansion of the Mum’s & Dad’s scheme, introduced in Summer 2013, by creating a family lineage, and providing a more organised framework. But it should be noted a lot of the groundwork is already being laid out by current VP Welfare.

Housing: Frances’ well-intentioned plans involve creating a ‘Student Accommodation Noticeboard’ to provide a network of housing information for students, though it would have to contend with massive accommodation-related Facebook groups such as this. The aim seems to replace the largely pointless and “chronically underused” ‘Student Share Noticeboard’ which would, in any case, need an overhaul.

Community: This will namely be achieved by expanding the Mum’s & Dad’s scheme, making it a “cornerstone,” as well as opening the Students’ Union to vastly under-represented groups such as mature students, postgraduates, and carer students. While there is a basic plan in place, the intention is that, through events and networking opportunities, the same sort of connections can be made that exist between undergraduates.

Strongest Policy: The previously touched upon ‘Who Cares?’ campaign would appear to be both simple to employ, and effective in its aims. This is born from the intentions of altering a mindset deterring those with disabilities from “achieving [their] aspirations or a chosen career path. As mentioned, it would only need to rely on organisation; in the form of workshops and guest talks. The rest would come naturally.

Weakest Policy: Frances’ stance on housing appears the most flimsy. Though she has not fallen into the trap of aiming high, it certainly seems to be lacking somewhat. Yes, a revamp the noticeboard would be nice, but to do so would mean enforcing a complete overhaul, including cutting the bureaucracy, the lack of which makes the more direct Facebook an attractive alternative.

In one word: Driven.

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Mash Banner

Propaganda: Manifesto | Twitter | Facebook | Video

Previous Experience: None

Flagship Policy: We deserve more! Namely, an explanation as to how Mashalle plans to address the eight grand, sweeping issues raised in her manifesto. Among the unique draws are a ‘cloud nine’ pledge to eliminate compulsory Friday afternoon lessons (to compensate for Muslim prayers and the Jewish Sabbath). But there is barely any substance. Oh, there’s also a bizarre ‘cops on campus’ policy.

Housing: Mashalle does not have a coherent policy on housing. Her only interpretable housing policy is to “[address] the rise of the cost in council housing,” which baffled me because, as far as I know, students do not use council housing.

Community: Building a sense of community would involve better represent international students, religious students, increasing society funding & sports’ club recognition, vaguely expanding the Mum’s & Dad’s scheme, and reforming the personal tutor system. However, Mash neglects to mention how she would go about doing any of this.

Strongest Policy: Picking Mashalle’s strongest policy is like having to pick whereabouts in your body you would rather be shot. If I had a gun to my head (pardon the expression) then it would have to be ‘cops on campus’ because it has been proposed in reaction to a problem which doesn’t exist. Therefore, Mash can do the least amount of damage with it.

Weakest Policy: Everything else.

In one word: Hopeless.

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Again, if you are a candidate and you have been offended by any of what you have just read, just give up. Give up now. Though if I have written anything factually incorrect, tweet me @Keumars. Voters, if you don’t like any of these twollops, then just vote RON. 

Imminently arriving, a full critique of those running for VP Education, and President. I would have analysed the VP Barts & The London Candidates, but I’m not going to pretend I know enough and I’d imagine Barts’ students would consider this a little insulting. 

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2 thoughts on “Candidates’ Critique: VP Welfare

  1. Pingback: Candidates’ Critique: VP Education | Keumars Afifi-Sabet

  2. Pingback: Candidates’ Critique: President | Keumars Afifi-Sabet

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