Report: VP Education debate

Report: VP Education debate

Hosted by Jack Sheeran, the first SABB debate featured two rather similar candidates.

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Image: University of Exeter Student's Guild via Facebook

In a sparsely attended opening SABB debate, for VP Education, there was little to choose between the two Harry’s: Reeve and Liu. Multiple questions from the floor scrutinised the similarity between the manifestos of the two candidates, and both struggled to find a way of standing out against the other. The debate kicked off with a lightning round to test Reeve and Liu’s knowledge of the Guild, then there pair were challenged on their manifestos before questions from the floor and social media.

Liu (left), Jack Sheeran (centre) and Reeve (right). Image: Harry Shepherd
Liu (left), Jack Sheeran (centre) and Reeve (right). Image: Harry Shepherd

Both candidates dealt capably with the lightning round questions, but neither appeared sure as to what PGCE stood for. Regardless, both were tied on three points each by the end of the round.

The two candidates appeared to have similar ideas for revolutionising the student experience: both cited the issue of study space as a key one. Reeve argued that the use of social media should be extended to promote vacant and under-used spaces further. Liu called for a more accessible system. He conceded there is a system already in place for students too use, but felt that not enough rooms were listed.

The two clearly had similar goals: stressing the importance of mental health provision in relation to education and dealing with study space problems. Occasionally, however, there were indications that the plans to achieve these goals were slightly different. Liu proposed a two tutoring system, in which students would have a normal academic tutor and a pastoral tutor to help them deal with mental health issues they might have. Reeve instead called for a better mentoring system, stressing the individuality of students and that learning happens at different rates, which should be catered for more appropriately.

both struggled to find a way of standing out against the other

Despite lack of study space and timetabling hours being key issues for students, neither Reeve nor Liu offered much on this. Simply building new study space wasn’t feasible, argued Reeve, so existing space just needs to be used more efficiently. Both agreed that students learn and study differently; students who struggle to work from home deserve adequate study space, especially when students are paying £9000 a year. Things were no different with regards to teaching hours existing from 8:30AM-6:30PM. Both accepted that Exeter University attracted more students as it continues to rise in the league tables. Both felt that it wouldn’t be realistic to promise students that this decision could be reversed of they were to be elected.

Despite a Twitter comment complaining about the lack of difference between the two, both Reeve and Liu failed to distinguish themselves. Both touched on their research they they had undertaken among fellow students and subject leaders and stressed. They also said that they looked beyond their personal experiences to consider other types of student, like mature students or those with dependants.

Concerning the controversial higher education green paper government proposals, Reeve offered his objection. Reeve argued that it could disadvantage those from less financially privileged backgrounds, as both stated that they were in fact from that kind of background. Liu could offer no opinion on the subject.

The key difference between the two arose from one of the more irreverent questions: ‘what type of pizza topping would you be, and why?’ Reeve likened himself to a pineapple as he is, in his words, “exotic and fruity.” Liu, on the other hand, opted for beef, as he had had that last night for dinner. Clearly, in the debate, Liu did have beef, just not with his opposing candidate.

All in all, little could separate Harry Reeve from Harry Liu in the opening SABB debate for VP Education. It was clear that both candidates had similar goals, with slightly different ideas for how they would achieve them. To distinguish between the two, close attention to each manifesto must be paid.

 

Tomorrow at 7PM is the next debate, for VP Activities, and Exeposé will be there again with live Twitter coverage and the full report.

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