There appears to be a theme emerging in the SABB debates this year; again, there was very little to choose between the three candidates running for VP Activities. Abi Elliston, Tristan Gatward and Sam Jackson were asked questions about safeguarding society budgets, Guild democracy and society space, but there were only flashes of disagreement between the three. Like last night’s debate for the position of VP Education, the debate began with a quick-question buzzer round, won by Sam Jackson.
Before Sheeran asked how each candidate would publicise societies, the first question concerned how the three would publicise themselves if elected: does the average student even know what the SABBs do? All agreed that SABB scrutiny was vitally important and that promotion should be extended, but it was Gatward that suggested that SABB scrutiny should be more relevant to societies. For instance, it could be integrated into Deb Soc debates. Elliston also called for a social media-style blog and Jackson argued that students would get more involved in holding student reps to account if the Guild website was more streamlined.
There was little to choose between the two candidates vying for the VP Education position last night, so it was important that each of tonight’s candidates could stand out with a big idea. For Elliston, it was an Arts Careers Fair; She argued that there was plenty of opportunities for students of STEM or law-based subjects, but there needs to be more representation for those studying humanities subjects. Gatward’s big idea is a post exams music festival, emphasising that Exeter University organises relatively few cultural events in comparison to the likes of Bristol or Edinburgh. Lastly, Jackson called for a revamped way for student volunteers to log the time and skills they’ve accumulated for their societies and student groups.
Each of the three expressed their disappointment at the use of Guild advertising space on campus, citing that the space is either too dominated by companies, or out of date. However, Jackson stressed that more than just the advertising spaces in the Forum and Devonshire House 1 should be considered. He argued that there are plenty of other opportunities for Guild advertising in places like the Washington Singer Building or Queens. Gatward recognised that opting for paid company advertising on TV screens does bring in revenue that could be spent on Guild societies.
— Exeposé Comment (@CommentExepose) February 9, 2016
Space, in a university rising up the league tables and therefore attracted higher numbers of students, is a pertinent problem that will be posed to both the successfully elected VPs for Education and Activities. All three claimed to have spoken to Body Soc on this issue, using them as an example of wider systemic problem with University booking systems. Gatward said that a reformed booking system was needed, in which societies could have a better knowledge of rooms suitable for their needs. Abi echoed Gatward’s point, but Jackson outlined the need to redistribute students throughout the spaces on campus: room booking is too concentrated in central campus areas.
Only Gatward mentioned X-Media in his manifesto out of the three, so Sheeran quizzed the other two on why they weren’t included. Both Elliston and Jackson both defended their manifestos and reiterated how important X-Media is to the Guild. All promised to safeguard media independence as far as possible. Abi felt that the problems facing X-Media — funding worries and publicity — also faced other societies too. Gatward claimed to not want to be a hindrance on either XpressionFM, XTV or Exeposé, arguing that a free media is essential to a free and democratic university experience.
despite flashes of disagreement between the three, the debate was carried out calmly
The three candidates agreed on most of what was discussed: the three found little to challenge each other on with regards to working with the AU and fitness-focused societies, ways of improving Guild Council engagement and how to protect society funding. However, Jackson did challenge Gatward on his post-exams music festival idea, stating that he felt that there could be better ways of using society money. Elliston, on the other hand, did not disagree or challenge Gatward or Jackson on anything they said.
Despite flashes of disagreement between the three, the debate was carried out calmly. There was more variety in the manifesto ideas than in last night’s VP Education debate, but, again, when choosing a candidate, it’s important that each manifesto is studied closely.