The third of year’s Sabb election debates was for VP Activities, contested by Kwasi Yeboah, Nik Rahmel, Katie O’Connor, Sam Johnson and John Chilvers. Hosted again by Xpression FM’s Ricky Freelove who had a larger audience than previously to cater to.
Most candidates used their opening speeches to talk about the ways in which they have personally been involved in societies and feel that their experiences are the key drivers of their desire to become VP Activities. Most talked about the need to ring-fence society budgets, the use and improvement of the appropriation of space, as well as the need to increase space in line with increasing student numbers. Most candidates were keen to talk about new possibilities for space, however the topics of debate extended to the infamous extension of the teaching day, the independence of student media and support for societies like LGBTQ+ and Afro-Caribbean society.
— Exeter VP Education (@ExeEducation) February 10, 2015
The quick round buzzer questions were responded to far better than last night’s fairly abysmal effort with candidates answering questions on how much money RAG raises and what documents societies must submit to A&V.
Current VP Activities and all round good guy, Matt Bate asked some searching questions of the candidates including their responses to how they would safeguard societies in the wake of rising student numbers. O’Connor felt that it was a case of better utilising existing space, while Chilvers felt that his degree was being devalued by rising student numbers. This was echoed by Johnson who believed that recent student satisfaction surveys would have Exeter’s ranking diminished as a result of less time for societies. Both Rahmel and Yeboah wanted to diversity the revenues of the guild in order to help protect society presence on campus.
The big issue of space was seen as more of a funding issue by Yeboah, which may well be true but the agenda of other candidates was to repeatedly moot its importance as a direct problem for societies. Changes to the room booking system, porters and use of the Lemon Grove and Terrace restaurants as society spaces were all discussed. Another issue, to do with employability was raised by the audience. Yeboah, in line with his opening speech suggested that external funding was key to society futures and that similarly networking was key to this. Many candidates suggested that better links with the Career Zone were necessary, though Rahmel pointed out that this was not in fact part of the guild, and cited the work done by Ignite as being of importance to students’ potential employability.
When the issue of freedom for student media was raised there were mixed responses from the candidates with current Xpression committee member O’Connor suggesting that the work done during Media Week was important and needed to be built upon and this was seconded by Rahmel, who is station manager of XTV. Johnson noted that it was important that student media was not leant upon by the guild. Chilvers suggested that student media was by students, and not for the guild hierarchy, when noting the recent issues over the Exeposé front page. Yeboah’s suggestion was that student media should be more careful with its reporting of 3rd parties, and could shine a positive light on Exeter, was met less than positively by some student media bods in attendance.
My view always v clear with media independence. As long as can’t be libeled or break CoC then they should print what they like #ExeterVote
— Exeter VP Activities (@ExeActivities) February 10, 2015
The theme of diversity was raised late on and all candidates were keen to suggest that pride festivals and current guild support to societies for minorities was excellent but as with all things could be improved upon. O’Connor suggested more committees could be trained on minority issues, with Chilvers and Johnson suggesting more liberation campaigns were needed. Rahmel thought existing work was good and praised previous guild work with Yeboah echoing this but saliently suggesting that detailed discussions would be needed with groups like LGBTQ+ to determine additional positive courses of action.
This was, all in all the best debate seen so far, with all candidates trying to grapple with the issues and seemed knowledgeable on all issues, especially when excellently pressed by Freelove. All the candidates should be warmed by their performance tonight. Tomorrow night is the debate for VP Welfare and Diversity and should be another excellent evening, which will of course be reported on by Exeposé Online.
Callum Burroughs, Online Editor
If you missed last night’s VP Education debate, you can find our review of the evening here.bookmark me