The debate for the position of President of the Students Union was moderated by Tom Stone with current President Raff Marioni assisting.
The seven candidates were: Asif Khan, Jason Carr, Jack Clohessy, Katie Smyth, John Dilworth, Chris Wilkinson and Jamie Cameron. The debate began with opening statements; Asif wanted to create an interactive student experience, Jason supported reform of the Student Council whilst Jack stressed the need for safer drugs policy and John emphasised his success in tiddlywinks whilst stating that he was running in order to bring more student interest into the elections. Katie wanted to ensure student safety on campus and Chris wanted to do more to tackle mental health. Jamie advocated a need for radical change to ensure that necessary resources were provided by the University.
When asked about how they would react to further strike action, Jason stated that he had been opposed to previous strikes and Katie stated that as President she would support the needs of the students, not lecturers. John said that he didn’t like strikes but joked that, like the rain, sometimes they are necessary.
Jamie stated that the needs of lecturers and students were interconnected, and staff should be supported. Chris argued that political beliefs should not influence how the president acts and that the students should be prioritised. Asif suggested that the student body should be listened to when strike action was considered.
On the discussion of mental health, Jack stated that he would integrate NHS and university care, Jason supported this approach but also emphasised the need to deal with the root causes. Katie and Chris stated that they would reach out to local organisations such as Mind.
Jamie argued that student funding, democracy and scrutiny needed to be reformed to tackle this issue. Asif proposed providing schemes such as free yoga sessions and the restructuring of timetables.
A question on how initiations should be handled divided opinion. Katie supported the ban, while Jack stated that the Activities Officer should oversee initiations to ensure safety. John and Jason suggested that students should be left to decide how much they drink themselves. Jamie discussed a need to tackle drinking culture whereas Asif stated students should be consulted and Chris said that whistleblowers should be supported.
Questions from the audience challenged John over running a joke campaign, and he stated that he did this because many candidates run on unrealistic platforms. Jack was quizzed on how initiations would be monitored, and Chris was asked about the practicality of achieving the discounts he wanted.