The Candidates:

  • James Watts
  • Tom Simmons
  • Nabeelah Jinnah
  • Jess Harrison
  • Amy Moran
  • Max Longley

The Debate:

On Tuesday night, the six SU President candidates gathered for a debate of the key issues in the run up to the elections. The first question focused on the redevelopment of the Percy Gee East Wing and the candidates were asked how they would like to see this space used. James focused on using the area for a pub as did Tom although only the latter wanted to keep the Diner intact. Nabeelah argued that this space could be used to give out free fruit. Jess, wanted to increase the social space in the union. Amy was against the idea of a pub citing the Dry Dock and Loaded Dog being very close by, and again wanted to turn the area into a social space, and emphasised her policy to introduce student group meal deals. Max took a different approach and wanted to transform the area into a study space. Tom then emphasised the monetary advantage of having a pub, while Amy pointed out that when the pub was open on campus it lost a lot of money. James and Jess also went back and forth on the pub issue. Max also raised the fact not many students drink on campus.

Eventually we moved away from pubs and onto the Prevent Policy, which sets out to prevent racism, homophobia, sexism and so on. Max’s main idea was to put in place mandatory classes about hate crimes. Amy was highly critical of the policy, which has allegedly lead to the ‘spying on’ of Islamic students. Jess pretty much agreed with Amy, and pointed out that the Union should work with the Islamic society. Nabeelah again agreed as did Tom. James took a slightly different stance stating that the policy itself was not the issue, but rather the way it has been implemented is the issue.

We then moved onto what exactly the candidates would do for disabled students if they were elected. Amy would oppose any disability cuts and Max agreed with this point of view as well as emphasising the importance of raising awareness. Jess wanted to target specific cuts on a local and national level. Nabeelah also wanted to consult with disabled students themselves. Tom also highlighted the importance of maximising accessibility in the union. James suggested giving more power to the Student’s union disabled officer.

Next up was a question about James’ free speech policy, and whether this may lead to an increase in hate crimes against LGBT groups. James himself said he was promoting tolerance as well as free speech while Tom added his policy of establishing a drop-in service for victims of hate crime. Jess was very critical of allowing any kind of hateful speech within the union. Amy was perhaps even more critical of the free speech policy and agreed with university’s current stance of not allowing organisations such as the EDL to speak at the union. Max’s main idea was to introduce anti-discrimination classes.

Finally, the candidates gave their closing statements, which mainly re-iterated their main points from their manifesto’s, which I strongly recommend you read. Voting remains open until 4pm today, so make sure you check your e-mail, vote online and have your voice heard.

Cameron Eyles

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