Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 20, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Students' Guild Elections Meet the 2023 AU President candidates

Meet the 2023 AU President candidates

Meet the candidates running to be AU President.
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Meet the 2023 AU President candidates

Image: Exeter Students’ Guild

Gee Burnett

Hi, I’m Gee! I’m a third year studying Sport Science at St Luke’s and I’m currently doing a placement with the Sports Park doing a rugby sport performance analysis. I also play bench ball regularly; I’m the vice-captain and we’ve currently got a varsity coming up so there will be a lot of organisations for that. I go to the gym regularly and I’m very much into my fitness and health because I’ve studied that at college, done personal training and nutrition as well.

What made you want to be AU President?

I wanted to be AU President because I think it would really be nice to see women’s representation in the AU up high. I know that a couple of years ago there was another female AU President, but I definitely think it’s time for another one to come in. I think that there are a couple of things that definitely could be changed and just altered to really get people to all work together and all be friendly with each other. I know there is a lot of competition and seeing as much support at games because everybody has come together would be a lot nicer.

What is the biggest challenge you will face in the role?

I’m excited for the role to take up a lot of time and I’m excited for the organisation of it but I think running events as that’s quite new to me, I think that will be something that will take a little while to get my head around. But I’m really excited to just go headfirst, and I am really excited to get to learn it all. Just more the process of it there is a lot of background work with the role, and I’m just not used to that but I’m excited to do it at least.

What will you do to combat toxic cultures in AU societies?

This is actually one of the points that I’ve put down in my manifesto. One of the things I am running towards is diversity. I think a lot of people when they join an AU sport stay with just that AU sport and they definitely think if they came together and mixed a lot more instead of being very much “I am this sport and that is all I am going for”. If they got to know each other, have joint socials that weren’t very heavy and actually were to get to know each other, I think there would be a lot more community. I think there are a lot of people and groups that will say a lot of things about each other but if they got to know each other a bit better, it’ll be a lot more people just actually coming together as one and working towards the same goal. We all want to do well at uni and we all want to do well at sport.

How will you ensure both men’s & women’s sports are supported by the AU?

I think both women’s and men’s sports are supported by the AU, but I think there’s definitely a divide when it comes to sporting events. There is a lot more support for example in rugby, I think there is a lot more support with the men’s as we sell out the whole of Sandy Park. We all knew this was an issue last term. Move on from it but I definitely think with men’s and women’s, the way that I want to support it, I want to make sure it is as well known, big promotion, make sure people are aware of it and make sure nobody is talking badly about any sport, whether it is men’s or women’s sport, I just want people to see it all as equal. If it’s women’s football, it’s football. If it’s women’s basketball, it’s basketball. They play by the same rules, they play the same game, the same tactics and there is no reason for it to be any different just because of the people playing it.

What is your biggest weakness?

I’m very upfront and I know that can be quite intimidating to people, but I mean it in the best way. People always know what they get with me. I will never lie; I will never sugar-coat things and I know to some people that’s a lot, but I want people to know that my door is always open. I want people to realise what I’m standing for and what I’m saying is the truth and that’s what I’m running with.

What is your most memorable night out in Exeter?

So I went on this massive pub crawl around the Christmas market, getting the free shots. I then went and had a Christmas dinner midway through which sorted me right out and we continued partying until about three in the morning at one of my best mate’s houses. There were about 20 of us and we had such a great night. We regretted it the next morning, but it was so much fun!


Brianna Cummins

I study geography BSc and I play women’s rugby. I started women’s rugby when I first came to uni after being a swimmer for all of my life — I just decided to find a new challenge and just that was that. Sport has always been a very massive part of my life from growing up. I used to play in the garden with my grandad a lot, so he’s definitely pushed me to be the sportswoman I am today.

What made you want to be AU President?

One, I just love Exeter. I love it a lot. So obviously if there’s an excuse for me to stay, then I’ll stay. But also I think I am very passionate about sport in general — I believe that sport has the ability to really help people from a well-being perspective to an actual physical health perspective. And I’m a firm believer that everyone should have the option to join a society or play some kind of sport just to kind of improve themselves. To bring it back to the rugby club, I’ve never felt as accepted before and I’d love for other people to feel that kind of acceptance with really any kind of society, though obviously, I’m going to be more inclined to sport societies because I’m running for Sports President. And also it would be nice to get a girl in there!

What is the biggest challenge you will face in the role?

I think people do have a bit of mental block sometimes against sport and some people feel like they can’t do it and like they have to be really good and there’s a big gap between like the highest level athletes to people that just do it like regularly and like just for fun. So I think that’s the biggest challenge, encouraging people that you don’t need to be amazing at it. Like it’s just going to have fun and just release a bit of like steam and like, get some endorphins and things like that. You’re not there to become a professional, you’re there just to have fun and make some friends. And it’s just yeah coming from that angle probably — so trying to get people over that stigma that might have been from school that “I’m not sporty I don’t wanna do sport” when in reality there are so many sports out there that people can get involved with.

What will you do to combat toxic cultures in AU societies?

Well, I think I’d love to have regular meetings with all society Committee members, just like regular updates about how they’re doing intake in their, in their societies themselves, and the kind of like I’d like to go along and just like, witness the culture myself. Just getting a real feel and obviously flagging up things that come up. I’d also probably want to release more regular surveys to clubs just so we can get a truthful anonymous opinion on what they’re doing well, what they’re doing wrong and how we can work with that.

How will you ensure both men’s & women’s sports are supported by the AU?

So one of my main points is women’s empowerment within sport, and that’s something I’m very passionate about. I’ve been involved in the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign for the past couple of weeks. Obviously playing a male-dominated sport, and for other male-dominated female sports, it’s very difficult. But then you can’t take away from the fact that like, they’re also sports people too. There has to be a level of mutual respect, obviously you’ve heard about all the stuff that has been going on this year with women’s sports in general. I would just strive just for equality cause at the end of the day, okay potentially you can’t always equally compare the sports. They’re men. We’re women. But it’s the same. If you love sport there should be no questions asked.

What is your biggest weakness?

I have raging ADHD so being organised. Literally like it will be everything flying everywhere, so definitely at the start, I can imagine it being pretty manic. But I think I’ll get used to it quickly. I think it’s just a big step up. I was a social sec and then captain of the team, and it’ll be a huge step up. Like suddenly, like you’re this figurehead for the uni, essentially — the sports world of the uni. I think it’ll be a lot of pressure, I might have to brush my hair a little bit more as well!

What is your most memorable night out in Exeter?

It’s always gonna be a night where you end up in the Lemmy (and you don’t remember getting there). This was my first year (years ago) I’ll just say it didn’t end well. But other than that most TP nights always end in some kind of VK rushing and shaking. But yeah definitely the Lemon Grove cause that place should be strictly just for Freshers! It’s got school disco vibes.


Sophia Reitano

I’m a second-year marketing and management student. Sports have always played a humongous role in my life. I’m from the US and we have a massive sports culture, so growing up, I was involved in lots of sports. I took part in club volleyball for five years, and we travelled all around the States. I was also a competitive dancer and we actually won the national title. My other main sports would be tennis, golf, track and field, football and softball. I’m also a student ambassador and an International Welcome team member.

What made you want to be AU President?

I want to bring my passion for sports to Exeter, I really want to get people involved and engaged in sport. I’ve got a few ideas to get more people excited about sport, I think that we need more events. In the US, before any kind of game, we have tailgating, a massive pre-sport festivity to get everyone in the spirit, everyone excited to root for your team. I think if we could have activities like that, that would get more people involved. Also, I think we should have an ‘Exeter Olympics’ where anyone who wants to be involved gets randomly split into groups to compete. We could have an opening ceremony at Timepiece, and then throughout the weekend there would be a round-robin of everyone playing all the sports and all levels could be included. Maybe we could talk to the University gym and see if we can have a prize of £50 off the sports membership? Freshers’ Week is often the main week to try all of the sports and societies, but it’s crazy because you’re moving and settling in and trying to make friends. So, I think that during Reading Week, once everything has settled down, we should have a Refreshers’ Week, to allow more people to try different sports and societies.

What is the biggest challenge you will face in the role?

I think it would be trying to represent everyone’s voices. I know there are over 20,000 students here at Exeter, so making sure that everyone’s voice is being heard could be difficult. But I think everyone should have a chance to contribute their opinions on things that they want fixed.

What will you do to combat toxic cultures in AU societies?

I think toxicity could be combatted by bringing everyone together through large events. We could have all the club captains meet together, to ensure a united culture. If there is the opportunity to become friends with everyone, then people would not want to spread negative energy around.

How will you ensure both men’s & women’s sports are supported by the AU?

I’m a female, right? So you might think that I would prioritise female sports, but I’ve been involved in all kinds of sports. I believe that everyone needs to be able to have a chance to be represented. I would talk to all of the club captains to make sure that everyone is included in decisions and that everyone in the student body is heard. I assume that more girls might follow the Student Guild and other University Instagram pages, as it can be more of a girl demographic. So, although I mentioned doing polls on Instagram, we could also stand outside of the Forum and take a convenience sample. This could ensure that we have an equal sample of boys and girls.

What is your biggest weakness?

My biggest weakness is probably that I’ve got a lot going on in my life; I like to do a lot. Every day is busy, I have lots of things going on. But from this, I have learnt how to prioritise, and how to multitask to get things done. I know that if I get the chance to take on this role, there are lots of meetings, sports and things to do, but I feel like my previous experience of always being involved in multiple things will help me out with that.

What is your most memorable night out in Exeter?

A few weeks ago we had a tennis match against the Cardiff Twos. We were supposed to lose because they were two levels higher than us. We lost the doubles but three out of the four of us won our matches in the singles. That was a really amazing experience and going out after was great!

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