One of the biggest challenges for the Activities Officer both this year and likely next year is the task of promoting societies and events in the context of coronavirus, so in his opening statement, Dylan stressed the prioritisation of helping societies as we come out of lockdown, through better access to hygiene equipment and giving committee members extra assistance in the new academic year.
Although Haris couldn’t take part in the debate, in his campaign video he starts by saying, “the promise I want to keep with you guys is to get the most out of the next year”, after which he explains that losing out on the university experience this year has stressed the importance of enjoying events and socialising next year.
Moving onto the questions, Elizabeth asked Dylan to expand on the first point of his manifesto, which details how he hopes to revamp the Freshers’ Fair. To carry this out he said he would rebrand it, not just targeting it towards freshers, but to all students, since “now, more than ever”, when fewer students have signed up to take part in societies, getting involved is important for all students.
Haris’ manifesto also focuses on improving mental health after the “trauma” of the past year and allowing students to “enjoy our university life, which we are all missing”.
Another key aspect of Dylan’s manifesto is to improve communication between societies, and one way he’d implement this would be to “facilitate inter-society mixers to encourage more collaborative events”. Asked to develop this point, he added that these mixers would provide an informal setting for committee members to freely mingle and discuss their ideas for their respective societies.
In his campaign video, Haris shares Dylan’s goal of “[bridging] the gap between societies” and “[introducing] events which mix up societies”.
Training of committee members
One question posed by a student on YouTube asked whether Dylan would organise the training of committee members online or in person in the upcoming academic year. He responded by saying, “Unfortunately this year training was completely online, but […] that just isn’t enough”. If training cannot go ahead in person next year, he’d make the online sessions compulsory to ensure that problems within societies didn’t emerge at a later date.
Dylan details his relevant experience as treasurer of Maths Society and co-president of Raising and Giving (RAG) Society, explaining that these roles have helped him to handle a budget, adapt quickly to changing situations and liaise with the Students’ Union.
Haris’ roles as a representative for international students and a Newcastle University student ambassador are also important to him, as are his personal experiences as an international student, saying in his campaign video that he understands and can appropriately deal with the problems international students face, such as homesickness.
As the livestream came to a close, Dylan encouraged students to talk to him via Instagram (@dylan4activities) and Facebook (Dylan #1 for Activities) if they had any questions about his manifesto, and he thanked student media for hosting the debate.
At the end of Haris’ campaign video, he tells students “I just really want to step up as an Activity Officer, I just want to be your go to guy”, also reiterating that his goal is to accurately represent the student voice.
You can find Dylan and Haris’ manifestos and campaign videos on the NUSU website.
Voting opens on the Monday 1 March, closes on Thursday 4 March, and 50p per voter will also be donated and split between three charities.