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Sabb Debates: Guild President

Rhiannon Moore, Print Lifestyle Editor, reports on the final Sabb debate of the week; Guild President, hosted by XpressionFM's Lottie Rayner (28th February 2019)

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The final debate of the week: Guild President. On the podium tonight was Patrick Hoyle and Alex Honey, interviewed by XpressionFM’s Lottie Rayner.

The evening debate began with opening statements from the two candidates; Patrick went first, emphasising his experience with Guild and University affairs over the course of his time at Exeter. Alex followed, highlighting an issue with general dissatisfaction with the Students’ Guild, and a belief that societies and students run better with less Guild interference.

Alex Opted for a Churchill Quote, Patrick chose one by Lady gaga.

In the regular ‘whiteboard round’, Patrick generally excelled with the Guild and university knowledge, but both candidates struggled to list the five key priorities of the Students’ Guild. They finished with an inspirational quote they would use at Graduation ceremonies, which indicated a little polarisation – Honey opting for a Churchill quote, Patrick instead choosing one from Lady Gaga.

Patrick stated that intolerance and discrimination are at the forefront of the issues we face as students

The debate then led to questioning of the candidates’ manifestos and were asked what the biggest problem facing students currently is. The two gave differing opinions, Alex believes the inefficiencies of the guild cause many students and societies stress, whilst Patrick stated that intolerance and discrimination are at the forefront of the issues we face as students on campus.
With regards to the limited time in the role as Guild President, Lottie Rayner questioned whether these issues and the candidates manifesto points could all be addressed within a year. Patrick believed that whist it might be optimistic to affect change in all areas of importance in just a year, he stated that it would set the Guild on a strong path.

VP’s and DVP’s become specialists in their field

Alex discussed the involvement of VP’s and DVP’s in the guild, stating that these people become specialists in their field, and the Guild President must work with them in order to ensure a smooth running of the Students’ Guild.

The two candidates appeared to have differing priorities and ideas about what they would bring to the role. Patrick focused heavily on physical changes he could make, such as a zebra crossing at the bottom of forum hill, greater food accessibility at Guild outlets, and a Boots-style drugstore on campus. Conversely, Alex highlighted changes he believes need to be made regarding low democratic engagement from students and bureaucracy.

A Boots-style drugstore adds another Guild outlet amongst the already “struggling facilities”

After Alex spoke about the struggles students face when finding student houses, Lottie suggested that a lot of his manifesto points simply required lobbying instead of making tangible changes. Honey went on to caution Pat about his Boots-style drugstore idea, stating that it just adds another Guild outlet amongst the already “struggling facilities”, and reaffirmed that democratic engagement should be the priority.

The often-scathing Twitter questions came next, with suggestions that as a first-year student, Alex Honey may not know the ins and outs of student and Guild life. He responded that this gave him a unique advantage and allows him to come to the Guild with a fresh perspective.

Patrick stated that inviting such a controversial character onto campus was perhaps not appropriate

In light of the recent Katie Hopkins Debating Society controversy, the candidates were asked by another Twitter user on their thoughts regarding controversial speakers at the University. Patrick stated that with the current social climate of the university (referring to 2018’s Bracton Law Society scandal), inviting such a controversial character onto campus was perhaps not appropriate. Alex Honey disagreed, instead questioning who is in charge of deciding which opinions are worthwhile.

The debate ended with questions from the audience, one student asking about what could be done in the future to prevent something like the BLS scandal. Alex argued that dealing with a situation like the BLS scandal is difficult because it occurred in a private WhatsApp group. Conversely, Patrick addressed the need for better training for societies, breaking down barriers and showing solidarity with the students the Guild represents.

All debates have been completed and voting for all positions remains open until 16:00 on the 1st March 2019.

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