Label had the chance to meet with Tom Hickson and find out more about the new ideas he wants to implement and hear about his manifesto points.
Why are you running for this position?
I’ve always been involved since I became a Sport Sec in November of my first year so since my second month in Loughborough I’ve always been involved in sport from start to finish. I think I’ve progressed through, being IMS chair now, I’ve had quite a big involvement, especially this year with being on AU Exec as well. I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding of what the role involves and I think I could really add to the position.
What makes you more suited than the other candidates?
Everybody’s got good experience but I think I’ve seen Loughborough Sport from all aspects. I’ve done some really interesting work with Sam this year in the Coaching & Volunteering Academy, obviously my IMS involvement has been quite strong, so being on AU Exec this year has really opened my eyes to what the AU is and what it involves. Since I’ve been here I’ve always taken an immense pride in it’s [the AU]success, it was one of the main reasons for coming was to come and play rugby here but unfortunately a serious head injury put an end to that one. Besides that I’ve always, since then, loved the spectating, this year loved being involved in the big events, the Big Matches, the AU Ball. I think it’s a really exciting and superb package as it is and I’d love to be involved in helping improve that.
Tell us about your campaign theme.
So it’s going to be The Hulk. The thinking behind it was that there’s obviously an air of superiority there and competitiveness but just generally it was just because it’s obviously a natural colour connection with the campaign team being in green, nice and noticeable. It’s very simple, the Hulk is quite memorable I think. Obviously I’m trying to get votes from thousands of people I’ve never met before but if they’ve seen one of my lovely campaign team giving them a sweet dressed in a Hulk t-shirt hopefully it will stick in their mind. I don’t want to reveal anything yet but I’ve got some quite interesting ways in which I want to use the theme during my campaigning.
What is the most important aspect of your manifesto?
It’s hard to say, really, because I’ve got a lot of ideas but I chose 4 to include in the manifesto because they were quite big and bold and it would be clear and easy to tell people. I think the ideas as a package do two things. The first is to look at a long-term ideas that will ensure BUCS success for years to come, because as everyone knows the gap is gradually getting smaller as people catch up and basically copy what we do. A big idea of mine is to looks at ways to increase the amount of facilities that we have, both utilising some of the land that is completely unused at the minute, as well as also looking at potential restructuring of the grassland that’s currently on campus to make it more streamlined, more efficient use of the space. I had a really, really interesting meeting with VC Bob the other day about this and he showed me some of the potential things we could do and he seemed to like how my ideas are looking long-term. Obviously I’ll be in the role a year but I don’t just want to do a few gimmicks, like this year, yes they were fun but I actually want to make a difference. The second key one is a bit corny but this idea of “AUnity” which will have two aspects. One is that I think that the students who come here, some of them might never feel any connection to the AU whereas I know plenty of people who come and have a level of pride in it. I know its part of Loughborough culture, win BUCS and get behind everyone, seeing your mates come home after a win it makes you feel a sense of pride. You might go and watch. Those are the whole really, those two points and then each of my manifesto points is an expansion on those.
In one sentence, why should people vote for you?
You should vote for me because I’ve got all the experience and knowledge to do a really good job in the role and I’m a very personable, generally happy and optimistic person; I’ve got some, in my opinion, really great ideas to improve everyone’s sport experience here at Loughborough.
What part of campaigning are you going to focus on most?
I’ve got a lot of social media ideas, I’ll definitely be doing door-knocking. I’m also going to do a big “Targeting Town” campaign; over half the members of the AU live there and I think every year everyone’s got the idea to get through all the halls and door-knock but I think people miss out in Town. Having lived there this year I know that you do get information a bit later or in different ways and so a big thing I’m going to do is try to door-knock town as best I can as well, or at least use my friends too, obviously I can’t knock on every house in Loughborough. But obviously I’ll be door-knocking halls and I’ve got some good social media tricks up my sleeve that people will enjoy.
What made you want to run for the position?
A few things: it hasn’t been something in my mind since I’ve been here or anything like that, it’s just something that has come along as I’ve moved through the system, I suppose. Being in a leadership role as IMS Chair has basically convinced me that I could do it and everyone who works with me has always been very complimentary. So all this just made me think that I could actually run something as big and prestigious as the AU. Also this year, having got the experience in AU Exec and seeing how it all operates, I think there’s some real positive changes I can make as well as maintaining what is already probably the best package in the country as an athletic union. I think all those things together, really.
What are you most looking forward to about campaigning?
I think just meeting everybody. I’m pretty sociable as it is and I just love to hear people’s ideas on things. It’s not often you’re given the chance where you’re encouraged to go shout to a group of 100 people in a lecture theatre or go knocking on a strangers door. I think probably the thing I’m most looking forward to this time round, obviously being on campaign teams last year, is actually meeting people myself and seeing what everybody’s got to say.
What are you least looking forward to?
I don’t know at this stage but I’m sure there’ll be something. I think probably the thing I’m least looking forward to is probably not having any real switch off time for 10 days. I’ll try but I doubt I’ll find time, you know, to go for a run. I’m supposed to be doing my third marathon at Easter and training for that but I doubt that’ll get much attention over this 10 days. Equally I doubt I’ll get any time to just sit and watch the 6 Nations or do anything that would otherwise be a normal week for me, I think I’ve just got to enjoy it but be accepting that I’ve got 10 days of hard work. I think putting my other sporting interests to one side will be hard.
What 3 characteristics do you have that make you well suited to the role?
I’m a good organiser and planner, I suppose they go as one really; I’ve had to be in the stuff I’ve done so far, like organising IMS with so many fixtures per week there’s a certain level of organisation that I would fall apart without. Secondly I think communication on various platforms; again with the experience I’ve previously had it comes through both word of mouth, social media, posters, anything. I think just learning what works at a university and doesn’t with students, obviously it’s different other ways but I think that’s a big plus and something that I’ve learnt. And finally, I think just my personality in general; I absolutely hate letting people down and so I don’t think I’d ever neglect anything because I’d feel as if I was personally responsible if something went wrong. I don’t know if its determination but just the feeling of responsibility, I suppose, I think that’s the final one that I will do my absolute upmost to ensure the success of the athletic union.
What new ideas will you be bringing?
I’m not sure if I can claim it as a new idea but it’s to bring back something that has gone but differently. It was in my fresher year, you remember the TV program where people from different sports all competed in fitness challenges and the someone won at the end called Superstars, it used to occur as an IMS event where halls would win if they bought the most percentage of their hall down but it really got very little interest as in the winning hall would take 20% of their halls. Whereas I’d look to do it almost like the Hunger Games whereby each AU club and each hall can nominate whoever they think are their real athletes, real fitness-focussed people, and then they compete over the year in a series of challenges and by the end we gradually cut down the participants as the program did and end with some big finale event, an all-round thing to see which club or hall can get bragging rights and who has the most fit athletes in there. I think that’s a nice, new, fresh idea that would, hopefully, captivate a lot of students not just those involved in sport.
What have you spent your budget on?
It’s not fully spent yet but a culmination of (and I feel a bit hypocritical saying this but) sweets, everybody loves them, even if its just one to keep them warm when they’re outside, also bought a bit of paint, I’ve done my best with skips and stuff to get boards and cardboard and things so I’ve done my best with freebies but most of my budget’s gone on the costume, I’ve got the Hulk outfit itself and then some glove props and things. After that I’ve still got a bit left so I’m actually looking at a couple of surprises which I don’t want to tell you about yet but hopefully one of them a lot of people should notice. But I’m just going to have a bit of contingency with the rest, I’m sure something will go wrong or break, so I’ll be able to replace them.
What do you like about the way the role has been carried out this year?
Obviously in both the IMS and the AU Exec capacity, I’ve been working a lot with Steffan. He works with the team very well, he’s got a clear idea in his own head of how things operate which is generally nice and professional but he really does listen quite well and so we all feel as if we contribute on the AU Exec team to the things that happen. I also think he’s worked really well with me, so whenever I’ve had a problem with anything he’s always responded quickly and the stuff we’ve done together like organising the IMS Allstars, where we take on the AU. He’s just been very professional and he’s always helped me out where I needed it.
Tell us something people may not know about you.
I spent the first 6 weeks of my fresher year with a fractured skull from an injury that I sustained falling down a lighthouse. Which sounds ridiculous, I know, but I used to work in a lighthouse in the summer and it had a big ladder at the top and I basically fell down it hit my head and got helicoptered to the hospital and all the rest of it. Hence the rugby thing. I guess people may not know that, even when I tell people that have known me quite a while it shocks them because I pretty much nearly died but luckily I’m here to fight another day.
This interview was conducted by Label Sports Editor, Liz Tyler and Label’s Culture Editor, Leanna Kightley.
To find out more about Tom and his manifesto, click here.