The Bubble Debate Part 1
Tonight, Loughborough Student’s Union hosted the first of two Bubble Debates. Broadcasted live by LSUTV, the Bubble Debates are both the students chance to ask their questions to the candidates, and the candidates chance to show off more of their manifesto and further demonstrate their capability to carry out their various roles.
Tonight’s Bubble Debate comprised of the candidates for President and for each of the Vice Presidential positions. The candidates for VP Welfare and Diversity were the first to be invited to the front; George Bollands, Natasha White and Zoe Mumba. When asked by current VP Welfare and Diversity Isobel Ford what aspects of the current role they would develop if elected, each candidate produced credible and suitable answers. Bollands wants to focus on the campaigns such as Better Decisions, as well as developing sober events and support during exams. Similarly, White aims to provide more academic support throughout the year rather and wishes to develop further the cultural events such as Diwali. Mumba had a strong focus on more student involvement as well as increased accessibility of the section as a whole to engage more volunteers. When asked what set them apart from their opposition, Mumba claimed to be diverse, and have a similar repatoire to past VP Welfare and Diversity elects, White focused on her already large amount of involvement in the section and personal traits such as being approachable and passionate, while George convincingly argued he is relatable, and has a wealth of experience having been on the Welfare Committee for the past two years. Overall all three candidates came across confident, well prepared and most importantly very knowledgeable about the role.
The second position up for scrutiny was the first of this year’s four uncontested positions, VP Democracy and Communications, with candidate Liam Peoples. This aspect formed the first question posed to Peoples, how he felt about being uncontested. Peoples shot back with a well thought out response, arguing that being uncontested if anything puts candidates in a more difficult position as they are forced to fight the perception that perhaps less effort is put into their campaign, and forces them to demonstrate even more how much they want the position. When asked what the most important thing the Union does is, Peoples argued that upholding the values of the University is the most important thing. He praised the Union as a whole, saying we students are lucky to have it and that it epitomizes what being a Loughborough student is about. Peoples produced some laughs when questioned about issues the role may face such as issuing bans and restrictions during campaigning, by starting his answer with the fact that he has of yet had no bans placed on him. He continued to say that it was something that definitely needed looking at, as he argued it needs to be made clearer what candidates can and cannot do during and before campaigning. His overall focus was on increasing the publicity of the section through regular and stable campaigns and more advertising and accessibility of the Union Council, a comment which was met with applause from the audience. An expected question to say the least, Peoples was then asked via Twitter about his thoughts on the infamous Exec Video, to which he laughed and said he liked it and that “no publicity is bad publicity”. Peoples laid back and confident demeanour shone through, whilst also managing to use his sense of humour to get some laughs amongst the audience, a tough feat in such a tense atmosphere.
Up next was the position of VP Finance and Commercial Relations, also uncontested, with candidate Dan Thomas. Current holder of the position Zak Evans started by asking Thomas about his ideas to engage a wider range of students. Thomas was well prepared, and answered in reference to his manifesto, where he aimed to create a more interactive Union, putting student’s own ideas into place by talking to students and asking what they want. He wants to enhance and improve the loyalty points system, partly through making it better known what the benefits are but also through creating tailored rewards. An interesting question came from the audience, where Thomas was asked about his plan to revamp Stupid Tuesday and whether he considered whether this may alienate loyal ‘Stuesday’ attendees. Thomas denied that his plans would alienate students, claiming he doesn’t want to lose ‘Stuesday’s’ identity among students, but simply wants to develop it the way that Hey Ewe has been developed this year through cooperation between VP Finance and the AU. Thomas was keen on maintaining the current governmental structure of this section of the Union, which he argued is transparent, with no discrepancies. Overall Thomas came across level-headed and professional. His ideas were praised by Zak Evans, and despite not knowing the pink squares on the monopoly board (as asked via Twitter), the Monopoly man does seem to know his stuff.
The penultimate position up for scrutiny was VP Education, with candidate Amy Ward. During her time in the spotlight, Ward had a focus on better advertisement of the section, increasing the profiles of the Departmental Committees and Student Staff Committees in order for students to better understand what they do and what they are there for. Becky-Launder Fletcher, current VP Education, asked Ward how she would utilise the Student Voice, to which Ward claimed the Voice is currently slightly unknown among students. Through the use of an Education Committee she aims to use a rep to create a direct link between the section and the Voice, creating more awareness for both the Student Voice and the education section. Launder-Fletcher also asked Ward about a new peer assisted learning scheme currently in its planning stages. Ward was confident in arguing she would aim to help students as much as she can, and this scheme would do exactly that. In terms of specific ideas, Ward mentioned her Departmental League idea, taking advantage of the competitive nature of Loughborough University. Via Twitter she was also posed the question of access to exam scripts, to which she said again, it is about helping students out as much as possible and if that is something students want then it would be something she would act on, recognising the value of understanding your exam marks. Ward’s knowledge of the role and committee experience was evident during her time on stage, and provided credible answers to each question thrown at her.
Last but not least came the big one, Union President, with two candidates Tommy Allen and Rob Whittaker. The first question posed to the candidates came from current President Josh Hurrell, who asked what they considered to be the most important aspect of the role. Rob argued dealing with students was the most important, as the President is there to represent students. He went on to say however that other roles on Exec perform this role as well, and what makes the role of President slightly different is providing a strong leadership. Tommy built on this, arguing managing the team is the most important aspect, as there are 10 members of Exec and it is the job of the President to profile the leadership of this team. The most controversial few minutes of the whole evening came when the candidates were asked to respond to the claims about the unsuitability of the candidates for the role. Allen responded by making sure people’s perception of his dedication to the role aren’t shrewd but his enthusiasm, claiming he was providing a more creative and memorable campaign than perhaps past campaigns have done. When asked about how they would manage relations with the community and the University, Whittaker was keen to emphasise the fact that the President is the face of the Union, and the main point of contact of the Union, thus recognising the need to maintain good relations with the community but also with the students, to find the happy medium. Similarly, Allen recognised the need for positive relationships between the community, the students and the University. Finally, both provided excellent responses when asked what song they would chose for the next Exec Video, Allen going for ‘Tribute’ by Tenacious D, and Whittaker choosing ‘500 Miles’ by the Proclaimers. Both Presidential candidates provided insightful and interesting answers, whilst maintaining a calm and confident appearance.
On the whole, the first Bubble Debate went void of mishaps or major incidents. Each and every candidate convincingly demonstrated their capability to carry out the role, and their relevance to why they feel they are a suitable option for their respective positions. LSUTV must be credited for their fantastic organisation and lay out of the event which was both professional and exciting. Watch out for part two tomorrow at 7.30pm, where the candidates for Media, Action, RAG and Societies will be scrutinised.