At 7.30 pm tonight, the second half of the Bubble debate was broadcasted live by LSUTV from Loughborough’s Student Union. The candidates were praised for the strength of their campaigns and were asked a range of questions related to their aims, their responses to certain situations and their skills. The positions tonight were: Head of Media, Action Chair, AU President, RAG Chair and finally SocFed President.
The first candidates on stage for Head of Media were Bryn Wilkes, Josh Reynolds and Tom Traies. The first question asked by the current Head of Media, Helen Crossley, was how they would ensure that Label still providing opportunities despite the apparent trend of reductions in print media. Bryn Wilkes thought that maintaining the same production of Label magazine, as a hard copy, was important as freshers seemed to be more aware of Label than LCR and LSUTV. Tom Traies agreed that continuing the printing of Label was important because of the exposure it can get in town and with Freshers. However, he noted the developments needed to Label Online. Josh Reynolds disagreed with maintaining the same production, believing that printing issues of Label were expensive and that specific targeting of audiences needed improvement. He believed that money could be better invested in online developments. Online development was a key issue noted by all three candidates. Bryn Wilkes commented that its accessibility needed improvement, while Josh was keen to use marketing techniques to improve online out-reach. Tom Traies also believed that the website was the thing that was letting LSU Media down. All three agreed that more involvement was needed with Hall Reps to encourage student involvement in Media. When Helen Crossley asked them the one thing they would like to see changed, answers differed. Josh stated that he wanted more active new volunteers through training and allowing them to settle in. Tom Traies wanted to make sure that volunteers were doing what they enjoyed and listening to their feedback, while Bryn Wilkes stated that his most striking change would be creating a fifth section for Photography.
Next Action Chair. Candidate Phil Jenkins, running unopposed, was asked by the current action chair Sarah Haar, how he would reach out to students in town without the use of social media. To which Phil stated that he would maintain contact with town wardens and work with them to target town students. He emphasised that he wanted to engage with more Halls on campus , particularly ones that had been inactive. Phil wanted to work within halls to increase understanding of ‘Action’ as fun rather than the stigma that is associated with it, a reason he gave supporting Sarah’s own decision to not continue the litter pick. He was also keen to engage with Sports Clubs around Loughborough and Leicester to find the projects he hopes to contribute towards. Overall, Phil had a consistent argument and structure to his answers.
Running for AU President, Martha Riggs and Steffan Lloyd were the next candidates on stage. Jennie Cooper, current President, praised them for the way they had composed themselves and their engagement with social media. When asked by Jennie how they would strengthen the AU, they were both enthusiastic about making students more aware about what the AU offered. Another question asked by the current AU President was how they would represent the AU, who are around 1/3 of the student body. Steffan commented that an open door policy was important so that he could listen to what the AU clubs were saying. Martha Riggs stated that she wanted to create a slot within every week where students would know someone would be there to talk to. At times when no-one was in the office then she wanted to establish a box of notes where students could contribute. Current Societies Federation President, Georgia Cheyne asked what they would do if a great athlete couldn’t afford to be part of the AU. To which both agreed that they would attempt to find a way around it. Martha wanted to investigate the options available so that she could continue to provide the sporting opportunities for everybody that the AU offers. Steffan commented on the link to his manifesto point about sponsorship. Stating that if sponsorship opportunities where increased, fees could be subsidised. Both candidates provided strong responses to question and their aims for the section were related with clarity.
The penultimate position was Rag Chair, candidates Danni Hitchins and David Edwards rose to the stage. When a twitter user asked who could do the best ‘Shake your bucket for Rag, Rag, Rag’, an allusion to the infamous LSU Exec video, the question was met with lots of laughter. As was current chair Paul Nanson’s rendition of it shortly after. When asked by the current chair how they would reach out to new sections despite time challenges, David emphasised that he wanted to meet with heads of sections and societies to cater to their ideas and wishes and to maintain regular meetings. Danni believed that using the vice chair to reach out to other sections and available resources would be the way forward. They were asked by a member of the audience, how they would increase student involvement, as Rag Reps tended to use the same volunteers for different events. Danni stated that she wanted to hold internal and external events so that students were aware that RAG involved more variety than simply Rag Raids. David stressed that pushing participation was crucial, as was holding a ‘Choose a Challenge’ night and making sure the Reps were pushing the section as much as possible. Both candidates were keen to stress the importance of meeting up and working with different section heads, to improve RAG. As well as the responses from both reflecting their previous experience with RAG.
The final position was Societies Federation President, which both Chris Briggs and Sophie Farley were running for. Georgia Cheyne, current Societies Federation President, was enthusiastic about the candidates calling their campaign brilliant and recalling how nervous she was at the debate the year before. When she asked the candidates how they planned to involve people who prefer not to drink alcohol, Sophie highlighted her aim to introduce a Ceilidh which she described as a Scottish tradition that involved dancing, as well as holding cooking competitions. Chris stated that he wanted to increase the interaction between societies by running similar events like the trip to Alton Towers and increase the participation in sport. Both Sophie and Chris emphasised the importance of reaching out to societies and receiving feedback, especially when there may be conflict within the society committee. Sophie wanted to introduce a Freshers publication where new students could find information about societies and their contacts. In addition to this she emphasised her aim to have the Winter and Summer Showcase tell a story so that the society as a section would be promoted as a whole. Chris wanted to look at outside-the-box ideas, bringing in unusual sports. He gave the example of a quidditch match for Harry Potter Society. He also wanted to re-promote Societies during Refreshers, as a result of the students who are still unaware of societies mid-way through the year. Sophie and Chris both had distinctive aims for the position but both campaigns were related and discussed with ease.
As the Bubble Debate has now drawn to a close, the candidates must rely on the rest of their campaigning before the live results on the 19 February. Each of the candidates portrayed a clear understanding of the roles, their manifestos and how they aimed to achieve this. The process ran smoothly with live interaction between the audience and social media and the team behind the event must be praised. Good luck to all the candidates!