The University of Birmingham will be hosting debates for the BBC, Sky News and The Guardian over the next 8 days.Written by James Phillips on 20th April 2015
Week 1 Campaigning – Vice President Democracy and Resources
Vice President (Democracy and Resources) All the VP Democracy and Resources candidates have been out on campus campaigning this week and spoke about their policies at the hustings on Tuesday
All the VP Democracy and Resources candidates have been out on campus campaigning this week and spoke about their policies at the hustings on Tuesday.The VPDR oversees finances and democracy, ensuring that money spent benefits students. They are also responsible for communicating the Guild’s message to the wider student body.
Like her fellow candidate, Rob, she targets Joe’s as the centre for one of her policies, but rather than calling for cheaper drinks, she want to develop the Joe’s card to incorporate a data strip so that students get loyalty points and tailored drinks. She’d also like a more accountable and transparent guild, which is why she’d like to improve the communication between the guild and the students and promote an understanding of guild services like ARC and StuDev.
Besides explaining her policies at the Better Guild Forum on Monday and the Mermaid Square Hustings yesterday, Vici’s main campaigning plans involved dropping into student groups to show that candidates do have a human side. Thus, a tweet in recognition of how intimidating the sudden onslaught of cardboard can be for students.
At the Better Guild forum, she opposed fellow candidate Rob Sassoon’s plans for a new club night, echoing concerns for increased litter, noise complaints, the safety of guild staff and the encouragement of excessive drinking, suggesting instead something a bit more relaxed like an open mic night. She also appealed on a more feminist basis, responding to an audience question that by being voted into the role, she’d like to set a precedent for more female representation in the guild.
On Tuesday, however, she showed an unwillingness to engage in the other candidates’ dispute over the feasibility of cheaper drinks in Joe’s, outlining instead her own plan to develop the Joe’s card. Later on she told Redbrick that this was to show the audience that she was the more ‘level-headed’ candidate so that they would be more likely to vote for her.
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Besides rhyming with his first name, he wants to show that, like pandas, democracy in the guild is endangered, and he wants to save it. There has been a strong focus on improving democracy throughout his campaign, with a slogan promising ‘a guild that does what you want, not what it thinks you want’.
This was obvious at Monday’s Better Guild forum, as he refused to take a side in the other two candidates’ dispute about another club
night. ‘Ultimately it doesn’t matter what I or Vici or Rob think. It’s the students who need to decide what they want from their guild. That’s why I’d like to have an active listening programme to find out what they want’.
Besides the listening campaign, his plans for improving guild democracy lie in supporting the Reclaim the Guild movement, which he
helped found. This focus on democracy lies in a recognition of how isolated the guild is from the majority of the student population.
He has however shown very vocal doubts about the feasibility of Rob Sassoon’s policy on cheaper drinks.
“People promise this every year and they never achieve it, because it is impossible (the Guild relies on it as a crucial source of funding, and they have clearly done their market research to find the optimum price),” he told Redbrick after the Hustings on Tuesday.
His own campaign policies focus much more on improving the say that students have in the guild and university but also promises to campaign for a wider variety of healthy food, more water dispensers on campus and more printers in the guild, as well as a wider
variety of events decided by students.
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Rob 'the Builder' Sassoon
Besides using a well-known character on which to base his theme, Rob has tried to appeal to the wider public by writing up three manifestos: one in seven words, another in seventy words and finally a more comprehensive one in seven hundred words.
Each one highlights his main policy areas: cheaper drinks in Joe’s, a new club night in the guild and because the guild is more than just Joes and Fab’ n Fresh, to repair student democracy. On the whole, he
wants to fix the guild, hence the Bob the Builder theme.
Much to the amusement of the students in the lecture shouts he’s given, Rob’s campaign theme comes with its own theme tune: ‘Rob the Builder, can he fix it? Yes, he can!” But initially, his campaign didn’t meet with the optimism inherent in the song as his policies were questioned by the other candidates, with Vici disagreeing with the need for another guild club night at Monday’s better guild forum and Leander questioning the feasibility of his cheaper drinks policy on his facebook campaign as well as at the Hustings at Mermaid Square
But Rob has stuck to his policies, embracing the debate. As he told Redbrick on Monday, “I'm glad there's been some discussion about my manifesto points and their feasibility”. So his speech at Tuesday’s Hustings set out to defeat this criticism, explaining the rationale for his cheaper drinks policy, a ‘supply and demand’ argument that cheaper drinks would ultimately lead to an increase in sales volume and even increased profits.
Speaking to Redbrick afterwards, he was happy to have had the chance to respond to the claims and convince the other candidates that his policies were perfectly possible. His confidence in his
policies perhaps reflects the unwavering faith that the theme tune is supposed to instill.
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