Home News Exeposé at the Guild President debate

Exeposé at the Guild President debate


The final debate of this year’s sabbatical elections ended with the position of Guild President up for grabs on the penultimate day of campaigning.  Competing to replace incumbent Rachel Gillies were Henry Care, Maria Finnerty, Petra Jones, Callum Kumar-Shaw and Laura-Jane Tiley. This final debate was of course compered by Ricky Freelove who held sway over proceedings.

The usual 3 minute speeches were amongst the strongest pleas heard throughout this week, with candidates using their time to platform on manifesto points and why they should be voted for. Most candidates had novel ideas which encompassed a wide range of potential student guild improvements. Freelove was far more officious with cutting off speeches in previous night. The debate covered many issues including; the infamous teaching day extension, commercial outlets on campus, and engagement of the guild with students and wastage.

The now famous buzzer round asked questions that included the important and massively concerning issue of the price of a Ram burger and pint, which was met with exceptional sass from Care who -as a Ram employee – interjected to state that the Ram burger did not come with a pint. Despite the confusion from this question, all candidates seemed good natured and well informed about guild issues. Naturally, you’d imagine, if you’re running for Guild president.

The first question from the current Guild President was about outlets like Costa Coffee on campus and how they affected the guild. This led to discussions about the price of commodities from Guild outlets but also from those run by campus services. All candidates agreed that better advertising was needed for Guild outlets, such as the Ram, which could also be distinguished from commercial options. Jones suggested that students bring their own mugs if they felt that prices on campus were too high. When the cost of food was brought up, Tiley was keen to point out that lower food prices should be reconciled with paying staff a living wage. Finnerty suggested that whoever won the election would have to be realistic when taking the guild to task over food prices.

This conversation segued into debate on wastage on campus by outlets such as Pieminister, with Jones stating that food could be given away at the end of the day. This was dismissed by Care, however, who pointed out the legal problem that food banks could not take on previously heated food products. Kumar-Shaw highlighted the potential for money to be made from wasted pies by reducing their price at the end of the working day. The relationship between the university and the guild was brought up, with many noting the difference between the debt laden university which is a business, and the student’s guild which is a representative of student interests. Care pointed out that this relationship was already very good, while Jones said that she would be keen to promote a coin scheme to get students involved in decision making. This is similar to other candidates’ ideas, including Kumar-Shaw’s oft mentioned website, and Tiley’s aim to provide forums for students, as well as guild loyalty cards. This issue became a broader discussion later on about engagement with students. Particularly mature students, who are inadvertently affected by teaching day changes and potential lack of support for those with children to care for. All candidates agreed that lectures should be recorded so as to lessen problems associated those who have families to look after. Finnerty also pointed out that international students needed to be better engaged by the guild. Freelove found some of the candidates’ responses less than satisfactory, which led to him pressing candidates to give more specific answers.

The rising number of students coming to the university was discussed, with candidates noting that student numbers was not their responsibility but that their subsequent welfare was a key concern. Tiley suggested that the need to support new students was paramount. Both Finnerty and Jones saw the university bringing more students in as a key part of the university’s rise up the league table. Both wanted to see greater spending per head on the student body, noting the league table ranking would impact on student’s job prospects. The reputation of the university was noted as part of this discussion.

Overall, this was another calm and considered debate with all candidates being polite and respectful, with few disagreements until later in proceedings. Freelove provided plenty of direct questioning as ever, and the candidates appeared keen to take each other to point over manifesto pledges. This was a well-rounded debate where candidates appeared to understand the pros and cons of their ideas and were warmly applauded for their efforts in another brilliant Sabb election week debate. This was the last of this week’s events, before the big results night tomorrow.

Callum Burroughs, Online Editor, Harry Shepherd, Online Games and Tech Editor, and Emma Thomas, Features Editor

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