Today we had the by-election Soapbox interview with Rory Pears, running for VP Finance and Development. When he entered the room, he seemed calm and collected, sitting on his box ready to begin; while the opening sequence ran, he was visibly thinking through points in preparation for his opening statement.
Before Joshua Gray started his questioning, the two chatted to break the ice. Rory joked that he was ready to get a “grilling”, knowing that this Soapbox would be no different to the first.
During his opening statement, he emphasised that he would like to “deliver the best student experience possible”, illustrating his passion for Loughborough through involvement in various levels of the Union.
Throughout the interview, Rory seemed reasonably prepared for Josh’s questions, saying that he still wanted to be “involved with the LSU” and demonstrating some initiative through talks with Tom Newman, Sam Hanys and the Director of Finance to prepare for the role. He also explained that he chose a consistent theme to follow on from last year so that voters could recognise it: ‘Return of the Racing Car’. He also mentioned his motto for the campaign “Driving to Success.”
The manifesto points…
First point – a cross platform calendar outlining events for LSU. Rory discussed that consistent publicity for events union-wide would create a more collective body, stating that the majority of events are planned out early in advance. Through a collective calendar, students would have a platform that they can access so that they can plan ahead and work events around their studies, while also allowing all sections of LSU to see what is gin on around the university.
Second point – introduction of the Loughborough in Town (LIT) award. Rory’s aim with the LIT award would be the recognition and engagement for students in town. Josh questioned the relevance to VP Finance of this. Rory suggested that this was under engaging those who are not engaged, focusing on the idea that town students should be recognised by the union, through such ideas as emails on campus events. Despite the (very similar) LSU Community Champion award being unsuccessful overall and town students producing little engagement with the nomination process, he argued that he would have the time to put more effort into the role to make it a success.
Third point – looking at how hall committee members are elected. Rory discussed that “People want to do roles for the right reasons”, suggesting that sliding through muck isn’t a suitable challenge to help prepare candidates for committee. Instead, illustrating “why these roles are good for you” and how they can benefit CVs.
The two then discussed the value of nights out at the union and how the union could maintain quality while minimising costs for students, due to tweets coming in about decreasing numbers of students attending nights out. Rory discussed that pre-sale wristbands are the same prices, platinum and gold is cheaper overall, and it costs much less to get into LSU than other clubs around the country.
While it wasn’t mentioned in his manifesto, after a questioning prompt from Josh, Rory discussed his understanding of the Union strategy: a five year plan to get a new SU. Plans are varied, and the university don’t currently have the money, so he emphasised that it was a long term plan to maintain the student experience, while improving the student experience. He added that he didn’t include it in his manifesto as the plans are not yet budgeted, and he didn’t want to comment on something that could change completely.
He was also questioned over the fact that some people see the university as too much of a profit driven, commercial institution. He argued that while it is a nightclub making money, it has all aspects for students, “During the day union, and during the night union.” He also highlighted Loughboroughs lead in the student experience survey. While the union has to pay staff, money is put back into the union and he would make sure it’s student driven.
When asked if the profit was more important, Rory stated that “the student experience is my most important part”.
Another Twitter question asked how Rory intended to monetise the union better, without creating student costs? He aims to “work with new union director […] where [what areas]can we look at to start with? […] the micro factors that we can bring into it are something we need to look at to start with.” Discussed the small details and where the union can save small amounts, which would add up.
If elected, after a year in the role, the single financial achievement Rory aimed to achieved was to handover a comfortable enough situation that “we can continue doing what we’re doing.”
Josh’s final question posed some difficulties for Rory, should we cut down EOs to save money? After some deliberation, Rory decided that “I don’t have the right to say”, it’s “something I need to look into if I get the role”. Josh rephrased his question, how would Rory cut down staff costs? “I don’t know.” He suggested that if it’s an issue, it’s something he would be looking into, but doesn’t think cutting down is a good idea, “it’s what makes us who we are”.
In his closing statement he thanked everyone, and honestly acknowledged that he hadn’t mentioned some key points Josh had discussed.
Photo credit to Craig Searle.