On 24rd February 2015, Room One heated up as the second of the Exec Election Bubble Debates took place. The evening was once again hosted by Nina Blissett on stage and Dave Thompson in the crowd, talking to the panel and sharing social media interactions. Nina brought us an introduction to the evening, saying that “we want candidates to clash” and that this would be the “hardest job interview of their lives”. We were also introduced to the panel; Sarah Haar- Ex- VP Action, Axelle Savary- Butler Court Hall Chair, George Hones- former Rigg Rut Hall Chair and Hamza Modi- involved in Action,Welfare and chair of Bakewell Hall. For anyone who was there, I’m sure you’ll agree that the evening was a lot more intense than the first debate as the panel asked intrusive questions alongside audience and social media participation. 

The two candidates for VP Welfare and Diversity, Steph Noble and Gemma Lomas were questioned by our current VP Welfare Izzy Ford, who is now in her second year of Exec.

A 30 second speech from Gemma Lomas showed that she has been actively involved with the section throughout her time in Loughborough. Last year she was Union Councillor and she is currently a Development Officer, sitting on the Welfare committee.

Steph Noble’s 30 seconds talked specifically about her involvement in Welfare and Diversity since she started University, last year she won the best volunteer award. She is currently the Mental Health coordinator and wants to continue to establish projects as well as having new ideas including Action projects for Welfare and aiming to empower students to take an active role.

Izzy: How will you ensure that Welfare Hall Reps provide opportunites in halls?Steph Noble

Gemma: I would bring traning in during freshers to set up for the year.

Steph: As a full committee work together. W and D events from the beginning of Freshers promote community spirit and encourage an inclusive hall in general.

Axelle: What would you bring that’s new- and how would you implement this?

Steph: I want to introduce an anonymous platform to report everyday discrimination. A lot of things go unreported and this can result in an unhealthy community. This information can also help to inform future campaigns.

Gemma: I would develop campaigns to target students in town to show that we do care for their welafre. A Night Bus for non- union nights would show that we look after town students even though they are not part of the bubble any more.

Izzy: Does the sing off promote lad culture?

Gemma: I love the sing off and we have been stricter this year- I wouldnt take it away but make sure that for next freshers we develop rules and regulations but keep it fun.

Steph: It’s amazing and unites the hall as a community which is important as a fresher. We can limit what people can say and make things more positive about your own hall- not just picking on others.

Twitter question: What new initiatives would to bring to Welfare and Diversity?

Steph: Get action involved- I have experience  in both sections and I see an opportuity to overlap. LGBT are going into schools to talk about sexuality for example. This would promote an ‘out in education’ campaign too.

Gemma: Bringing the association to the forefront and make a clearer structure. Wee need to regularly remind students what asscoiations are here and what exactly they mean as part of the union so that everyone can understand what’s going on.

Twitter question: Have any diverse networks been neglected?

Steph: mature and post- grads can be incorporated more. Age creates new issues for people, so we can listen to voices of older students to accommodate all students.

Gemma: We could bring a mature students officer onto Welfare and Community Development Officer to target all students including the ones that we dot feel are as involved. We need to make sure that their welfare is being cared for.

Sarah Haar: Cross platforming is popular- should we concentrate on cross overs or developing the section further? This is only the 4th year of Welfare and Diversity.Gemma Lomas

Gemma: Developing structure. Throughout the year we could cross- section through smaller projects that could be developed in the future. We need to instil things in committees and halls then allow things to flourish in later years.

Steph: There are 2 parts- we need to support the students that we have and engage others. Particular passions should be supported as this can be good for Welfare and the community as a whole.

twitter question: How can we ensure Welfare reps provide the best experience?

Steph: Training is important right from when they’re elected. We can also run workshops on specific issues.

Gemma: Training and making sure that reps are fully aware of what Welfare is. We need to make sure that they encourage individuals as they can come up with their own new ideas.

Twitter question: do you think the section needs refining?

Gemma: Focus on the clarity of structure to make sure people know what it’s about. We shouldn’t be concerned about popularity or rapidity of growth.

Steph: We’re getting more and more people involved and this is increasing the things that people can get help with.

Twitter question: Why are you a more suitable candidate than the other?

This prompted positive comments for each other as opposed to boasting individual attributes- this was a nice touch from both candidates.

Both Steph and Gemma responded well to questions and the audience reaction was strong throughout. Questions asked and answered were interesting and showed that the two candidates both have a passion for the section but may focus on slightly different things, from different angles. 
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