Interview: Tola Akanbi-Onasanya, candidate for director of events and services

Photo: Maria Faciolince

The director of events and services is responsible for managing student input regarding bar and entertainment services at the Union, and is involved in the strategic planning of the Association’s events programme, which includes important events like Freshers’ Week and the Graduation Ball.

Read our analysis of Mr Akanbi-Onasanya’s manifesto here.

What are your main polices?

Part of my reason for running is that I want to bring more to St Andrews. I feel like we can achieve much more in terms of the nightlife and putting on events. They have so much space. Obviously, with the redevelopment we have the chance to make the Union great. I feel like we are really under using it. I’m really enthusiastic to bring in more acts, work with Music is Love, bring in DJ sets, live music and use the main bar a lot as well actually. I feel like once we have the new main bar, we’ll have Sandy’s (the new traditional pub space) and I feel like we will be more of a student hub. I feel like University is a place of making connections with other students as well. Apart from halls, it’s nice to have a communal place to go and sort of just hang out and relax. The library is more of a social hub than it should be so with the new Union, I want to make it a place for everyone to go and connect and have a good time.

What experience do you have?

Unfortunately, unlike the other candidates running for DoES, I don’t have as much experience. I haven’t been on Mermaids or the Ents crew or anything like that so in terms of experience, I am actually lacking. It’s not unfortunate. Obviously having experience is useful but it doesn’t necessarily equate to being a good director of events and services. I am quite good at negotiating and I feel confident in my abilities to make deals, secure acts, make bookings. I just have so much enthusiasm for the job and I feel like I’m so pumped to do it. I feel like I could do a really good job if I was given a chance to do it.

What do you think of what Daniel Palmer has done this year and what would you do differently?

I think Dan has done a really good job because, like the next DoES will be, he has been quite limited because of the redevelopment but with that he has done a lot. I feel like Freshers’ Week wasn’t his strongest achievement. He mentioned to me when I met him that he should have done more with Freshers’ Week. Obviously it is quite difficult to book acts in the short amount of time during the handover. I feel that what I would do differently is that I would try and get more advertising. I want to encourage people to go to the Union and not necessarily just the Bop but all of the events that we put on in the future so it’s clear that everyone knows what is going on, when and what time and what is happening

I think come Freshers’ Week, I’m going to change how the passes work because I think there were a lot of issues. They were all be sold out because the passes are sold online but then if they have all the events, they can pick and choose which ones they want to go to rather than the situation where people, who are really keen for a certain event, can’t go because it is sold out online but in reality not everyone attends the actual venue. I want to change it and hopefully have full venues for every event because that is what we want to see – everyone having a good time and Venue 1 or Venue 2 being full.

I feel like just in terms of events like the Bop. I think he did really well with what he did with Rewind. The Bop was a bit cheesy and people weren’t really into it but Rewind was a way of having the cheesy music and having a night out at the same time and the Bop was more for a party time like a nightlife event. I want to work on that and develop that and just go from having more events that people can get on board with.

You said you would advertise more. This is something that Dan Palmer has increased this year already. How would you do more?

I like the PR team. That’s really good. I feel like, especially with Freshers’ Week, actually going to the halls of residence and having small talks but I feel like having some volunteers to go out and do outreach to halls. Coming to St Andrews, they don’t know where everything is and what is going on. It’s all well and good to have a calendar with events on but a lot of the time people ignore it or go on what they hear from hearsay and what their friends are saying. I feel like the more that is out there and saying it to people’s faces. Like you said, the PR team and it is important to have Facebook, Twitter and that kind of thing to advertise events but obviously that is more to do with Freshers Week.

I feel like, in terms of the entire year, I want to look to going to advertise events in the way FS or Dont Walk do. They have posters all over town, they have launch parties and that sort of thing. I don’t necessarily want to have launch parties but I feel like all the volunteers who are on the student councils, if we can use them to spread the word and advertise – hang banners from their flats and that kind of thing. If you literally just fill the town with advertising, it’s inescapable. People will think ‘Oh this is going on on this day. I wonder what that is?’ If we increase the demand for it I feel like it will just make things more interesting and make people more keen to get involved with Union events.

Why would you say that you want this role in particular?

I feel like I can bring a lot to the role. I just feel really strongly that we deserve more as a student body. I feel like that we have a lot of strong performances that we put on ourselves, like Mermaids, like shows, we have a strong acapella society as well, which is excellent but I want to bring more from outside St Andrews. We are very good at entertaining ourselves but I feel like I can bring in more interesting acts and more interesting events to come to the town and make us like, I don’t want to say put us on the map because we’re already on the map – we have a lot of culture here and we’re well known as a University – I just want to build on that and make us a University that we can remember and just the kind of thing that people will say Ooh you go to St Andrews. You’re so good. You have a great uni, you’ve got great classes and great lecturers but also a fun time on nights out.’ That is what I really want to bring to the role.

Why do you think DoES is so contested this year?

I don’t know actually. It’s interesting actually because up until Wednesday there were only two of us in the running – myself and Leon – and then suddenly within the last hour they had Campbell and also Lewis put his name in. I just feel like this year it’s really interesting because there are four of us running and I think it’s good because I like the excitement that there are four of us and I feel like the reason there are four of us this year, I think we all feel similarly that we can, not necessarily do a better job than Dan because Dan has done really well, but I feel like with all the groundwork that Dan has put forward, especially with the redevelopment, there is a lot of room for taking the Union in a new direction. I feel definitely we’ve almost got like a new start and that is why there are so many names in the hat because people have got great ideas. I feel that whoever gets the position is going to take the Union in a new direction. I think there is a blank canvas and there are a lot of new ideas coming out.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am really looking forward to the race and the campaigning and that even though, what I lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm. I’m really excited and if I get the chance, I’m really going to give it my all and make the Union great.


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