The debate for the position of Activities Officer was held on Tuesday the 12th of March and was moderated by James Johnson. The candidates for the role are Alaistair Geear, Eleanor Killner, Haaris Qureshi, Jordan Carroll and Meg Keates. One of candidates, Alaistair Geear, left in the middle of the debate to attend R.A.G. Fashion Show.
The first thing that was discussed was how society collaboration can be organised by the student union. Each of the candidates had different ideas about how they would tackle this issue, with Meg arguing that collaboration would be improved by introducing mid-year training to help improve organisation and communication. Eleanor disagreed with this, however, arguing that online resources would be more beneficial in guiding committee members. Jordan contested her on this point, arguing that other attempts to allow societies to collaborate over Facebook have not worked, and that a “societal mixer” is a more fun way of allowing people to get to know each other.
A debate surrounding Fresher’s Fair and Refresher’s Fair also emerged after Jordan argued that the current Refresher’s Week “just doesn’t work” because people are too busy to go mid-way through the year. He proposes instead that students should have a week off to avoid exhaustion going into the second semester. Alaistair claimed that the reason Refresher’s Fair struggles is because students get “stuck in their ways” and argues that societies need help promoting their events. He also wants to put focus on the events that aid people with disabilities. Haaris disagreed with the suggestion that Refresher’s Fair is unsuccessful, claiming that it is just a case of societies marketing themselves well.
The conversation naturally progressed from Fresher’s Fair to a discussion surrounding GDPR. As The Courier covered back in October, the new regulations that permitted societies from taking emails were a source of frustration, and some society members who argued that it was more difficult to get Fresher’s to sign up than in previous years. Haaris argued that this issue was an “isolated incident” caused by technological issues. The conversation became quite heated when Jordan argued that “the whole process of getting people’s emails” was an issue, whereas Haaris insisted that this classed as a technological issue. Jordan also disagreed with the claim that Refresher’s fair was successful, as the turnout for this year was lower than that of Fresher’s Fair. Haaris then went on to make the controversial comment that Fresher’s Fair was always going to be attended by “wide-eyed naïve Fresher’s who have nothing else going on in their lives”. When the moderator pointed out that Haaris would be representing this group, he responded that he meant this affectionately.