Post-elections interview: Leon O’Rourke, DoES-elect

Photo: Maria Faciolince

What was campaign week like for you?

Draining, is the word. It’s been very weird. Obviously it was strange going against three friends; we were all friends beforehand. I’ve got to thank my campaign team specifically. My two campaign managers, Ed and Kieran – absolutely just can’t thank them enough.

I don’t know how to respond today, I’m just a little bit taken aback. I phoned my mum and dad – and genuinely when I won, I actually did cry, like just a little bit. I’m going to have to refrain from telling my dad that, he’s quite macho so he’ll be very upset by that statement. But yeah. It was quite something.

Did it cause friction, being friends with the people you were running against?

Strangely, it didn’t. We all seemed to get on very well – friendly competition, I suppose. Me and Adetola would go out for a wee bit of food together, chat and hang out. And Campbell and me would discuss what we’d done correctly and all that. And obviously me and Lewis were so tight there at the end it was quite unbelievable. Me and him are going for a drink later so I can steal some of his ideas. He had some fantastic ideas that I can’t let slip.

So you want to try and take the best ideas from all the candidates?

It would be stupid for me to go – just because they didn’t win, their ideas can’t be used. Adetola’s idea of, in a sense, customising the Union experience and hopefully getting people to name their own parts of the Union would be fantastic. And obviously Lewis’ idea of collaborating not only with unions but with independent kind of areas is pretty cool. So yeah, I’d like to steal one or two. Mine and Campbell’s ideas were very, very similar. I must say his idea for themed drinks deals is quite interesting, for Bops and things like that. So overall I’m going to be a bit of a thief and steal as much as I can. But they were very good, very very good.

Did you have any particular strategy?

Because I’m a very silly person, just in general, I thought I had to be myself. So I made a silly poster and I made a very silly video. When we went to the hall hustings and stuff I was just myself and told jokes but tried to get it across that I thought I was the best for the job. I think my online presence was very important, I never really enjoyed walking past that line of people at the library so I didn’t really do any of that. We gave out lion-shaped cookies at one point, but we were more of an online presence than anything else.

What were the highlights of your campaigning experience?

I suppose just when we got the video done and I was watching it rise, and I think we got over 1,000 hits on YouTube, it was pretty cool. And just not knowing people but them coming up – like we were in the Vic and a bunch of rugby guys started picking me up and doing the lion king stuff and that was really, really funny. I hadn’t even met these guys before, but they were very enthusiastic. And then at all the hall hustings, the other sabbatical candidates took it in turns to ask me to beatbox in my question round, it was very exciting. And then obviously that moment when I did win and my team threw me into the air, that was very cool I must say.

On the night, it was clear that DoES was going to be a pretty close race. What was it like, waiting for those results?

Beforehand I was shaking. It had been such a draining week as I’ve said, but I had my friends around me and we were all kind of – my friend Kieran, my campaign manager, was actually like, what we’ll do is we’ll tell him that he’s definitely going to lose, so no matter what happens it will just be like oh, okay it happened, cool. But yeah, just waiting around was so tough. And when you’re looking at those little bar graph things you’re just like – what is this rubbish? Please just tell me!

What did you think of the whole presentation?

It was actually quite cool, despite me just saying that there – it was very, very cool. It was a nice idea. It was really kind of frightening to see your votes represented as a little chart. And when Lewis’ was literally almost touching mine, I was just like, this is the worst day ever. But yeah, it was so great in the end.

The crowd were all gasping, it was so close – they were all very tense. Did you feel that was supportive?

Yeah, it was really nice. It was heart-breaking that one of us had to win in a sense. Campbell and Adetola immediately came up and shook my hand and stuff and Lewis sent me a really nice message – because I had to run off to the Rule to DJ so he couldn’t find me, but he sent me a really nice message. It was really cool though being there and the crowd… so awesome. I can’t say enough really.

Can you describe how it felt, hearing that you’d won?

It was one of the only times I’ve ever really just actually cried from joy. It was like watching Pay It Forward again. Which is a beautiful film; I encourage Saint readers to just please watch it. It just gets you inside.

What will be your first steps now that you’ve won; what happens now?

We need to interview for the positions of head of Ents and also for PR and design. I’ve worked with Ents before at all my events so it will be quite interesting to talk to them and select the best person for the job. And obviously we need to talk to the – me and Fay especially are going to be working with the SSC, and the SRC, so it’s going to be interesting. It’s almost like the handover starts now in a sense. I think it’s what Tola was talking about in his campaign, about trying to decrease the amount of time it takes to get the handover done so you can get as much time booking acts and stuff. That just seems so far in the future though. At the moment, I think we just need to rock through the handover and get to know the job.

Do you feel ready for it?

I don’t feel ready to get out of bed, but I did. To be honest this morning was weird because during campaign week basically all I wore was my Leon t-shirt so today I had to figure out what else I was going to wear. And then I realised because it was such a hectic week I didn’t get a chance to do laundry so I was then downstairs waiting for my pants to dry. Which is very surreal. I was like, ‘I’ve got an interview to go to, quick, dry pants!’ It was very, very weird. So I’m wearing odd socks because they were the only ones that dried quickly. Just very strange.

Will this be the end of your job at the Rule?

I think I’ll do another two months at least but obviously DoES is a full-time commitment and I want to put everything into it. Obviously it’s not the end of my liaison with the Rule because I do love everyone there and my team were pretty great about it. So I think I’ll have to visit regularly but soon I’ll have to call it a day.

What will be the first event you put on? Will that be Freshers’ Week?

Well this year I got to pretty much open with Clan Warfare which was the Sunday, so obviously there’s one before that on the Saturday isn’t there? Jeezoh, there’s so much to do, so much to think about. I’m looking forward to going to Grad Ball when I graduate and looking at it from the perspective of, I’m going to be putting this on in a year. But yeah, I’m looking forward to Clan Warfare definitely because it’s something that I’ve already been part of as the host and I’ve seen it from the planning side of it and I’d like to keep it going and do something really big.

Have you go any ideas of how you could improve it this year?

Well Dan did a really good job I think, he obviously hired a really awesome guy… that was me. But really it’s just getting on everything early I suppose. We’re going to try and push the halls to really get out there in force.  It was so good last time because the halls were just so enthusiastic. They sent everyone out, they got everyone a bit drunk beforehand. I’m going to talk to the new senior students at each hall and encourage them to really, really embrace it. And obviously people who aren’t in halls are going to feel a bit left out on that night but I’d like to try and bring them as well, just as a kind of let’s go have a bit of fun, see what new drinks deals Leon’s brought to the Union.

What do you think of the sabb team as a whole this year?

Oh my god it’s so great. Obviously Dave and Pat were both good friends of mine and it was so tight, whoever got it I knew I’d be happy with. And obviously Noah was such a great guy the whole way through, he was so friendly, but in the end it was between Dave and Pat and it’s great to just be working with either of them. My impression of Pat got gradually better throughout the week because his speech was the exact same every time he said it, which was beautiful. And obviously Fay was a no-brainer. It’s going to be great because both me and Fay are comedians and we share an office. It’s going to be a very silly office, a very silly office. And Ondrej – I think Ondrej or Ali would have been great – but Ondrej’s just ridiculously tall though so that will be interesting, good photos. And Sarah, I was a big supporter of Sarah, because we have the same academic kid. So a little bond there. I think we’re going to be a good team.

So you’ll work well together?

Yeah, I can’t foresee any problems. Saying that now it would be horrible if something bad happened… But I think it will be really good, I really can’t wait to start. And obviously in my position I’m going to be working with Mermaids, STAR and Music is Love. And Anna, who is head of Music is Love again – wonderful, really like her and I think we’re going to work really well together. And Sean MacDonald has been a friend of mine since he got to Uni pretty much and I’m really looking forward to looking with him. Very close race his actually, really, really close. And obviously Ben as well from Mermaids. I feel like I’ve got verbal diarrhoea…

So you’re very excited?

Oh gosh yeah. I don’t know what it is, I only got three hours of sleep last night but I’m up and excited and… I want it to start now but obviously it’s a pretty gradual process. And we got emails from the proctor congratulating us and obviously the current sabb team were fantastic. And a really well-done election I’ve got to say. I’ll tell you what, when they were doing school presidents I was like, I don’t care anymore, let me know what’s happening to me! But no, it was overall a very good election and a good election turnout.

Any last message?

It’s one of those great ‘Circle of Fife’ moments, as one of my campaign team members said. The Leon King lives on I suppose, there you go.


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