Manifesto Analysis: Director of Education and Director of Events and Services
The Saint Elections Team breakdown the manifestos of the candidates runnign uncontested for the role of DoEd and DoES.
Candidate: Cam Brown
Role: Director of Education
Mr Cam Brown’s manifesto is, for the most part, clear and realisable. With experience as a Postgraduate (Taught) representative, his principal aims are to “fix the issues that hold people back in studies” and to “ensure academia runs smoother.” Mr Brown does not make ostentatious promises, but rather provides an outline of some coherent, actionable improvements he plans to make. That said, some of his assertions, specifically on inclusivity, are vague and lack actionable steps. Though his values are clear, how these values will be reflected in his leadership remains to be seen.
Mr Brown has committed to working with the University to create 24-hour study spaces for undergraduate students. This is commendable given the much verbalised nature of the issue of lack of available study spaces for students. This seems achievable but is unclear how or where Mr Brown intends for these study spaces to be created. However, he offers the examples of the Postgraduate Lounge and Butts Wynd as a model.
Another improvement he has suggested is the Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) scheme. This project proposes academics to work as personal tutors for students as well as forming in-school study groups for other students to turn to. This idea is interesting and would certainly be beneficial. However, it is unclear whether academics within the University would be willing to take on this role atop other responsibilities.
Mr Brown also suggests further supporting School Presidents and Representatives in their transitions to office by providing “training and resources”. That said, training is already part of the initiation process of School Presidents and Representatives, but it seems Mr Brown would seek to diversify and augment this.
Perhaps one of his most cogent proposals, Mr Brown also states he will prompt the University to produce ‘Tuition Receipts’ which break down the distribution of student fees. This step would certainly ensure accountability within the University, as students would be able to see where their money is going. Further, it would aid to highlight resources that students are paying for and have access to while at St Andrews which they may be unaware of. This would be immensely beneficial and is a fantastic suggestion which would benefit many students.
Mr Brown recognises the challenges strains in mental health may pose while studying at university. He seeks to reduce the bureaucracy that may debilitate students from receiving help with their mental health, from “long forms” to “long waiting times”. This is certainly important, yet how it would be streamlined is not articulated.
He also aims to help students seeking leaves of absences through a “retention and reintegration” programme. This programme would make the process “easier to navigate” and ensure a smoother return. Nonetheless, what exactly this programme would entail is not stated.
Mr Brown highlights the importance of his own visibility throughout his manifesto, ensuring he is a familiar face for students to turn to. Further, he seeks to ensure the visibility of University management, arranging Q&A sessions with the Vice Chancellor where Mr Brown may pose students’ questions “directly those making decisions”.
Mr Brown offers an achievable, though at times vague, manifesto. While he does seem to have an understanding of some of the issues academically impacting students, exactly the steps he will take to solve these issues is unclear.
Candidate: Lucy Brook
Role: Director of Events and Services
Director of Events and Services (DoES) candidate Ms Lucy Brook presents a clear and concise manifesto. Running to be re-elected, Ms Brook has the advantage of having held the role for a year already, resulting in a set of seemingly realistic and achievable goals. Outlining her achievements from the current academic year, there seems to have been little innovation in what has been put in place, but looking forward there seems to be more range in her goals. Though on the whole her points are actionable, at times the statements can be a little vague and under-developed, and at time it is unclear to what extent she will bring an element of excitement and imagination to the role.
The DoES Role
Ms Brook’s initial focus is to bring a degree of innovation to the role of DoES itself, pledging to provide greater support for student groups involved in the performing arts. Interestingly she speaks to role being “unsustainable” and inaccessible, though does not elaborate further. She criticises that performing arts groups are underrepresented at a high level within the University, which has resulted in decisions with adverse effects being made without consultation. Ms Brook also wishes to provide more training to societies and union subgroups, from room booking to risk assessment as well as improving familiarity with the departments and faces within the union. Though offering greater support and advice to students wanting to put on events is undoubtedly important, and it is admirable that these goals are set out with specific societies in mind, they border on unimaginative — such as her promise to “assist OTR [On the Rocks] in making their festival as successful as possible”.
Events and Spaces
Understandably, a large proportion of Ms Brook’s manifesto is devoted to the improvement and putting on of events, both within the Union and external. Her two main goals are to increase events with live music (citing their popularity this year), as well as introduce more regular Union events, such as Bingo and a Live Lounge. Interestingly, she does not mention bringing any reform to events in the current lineup, such as BOPs and Sinners. She also advocates for better promotion of events using social media, as well as increasing transparency around what it takes for students to plan an event.
There is some planning to improve and increase the use of space within the union, namely expanding the range of bookable spaces, creating commuter kitchens and investing in spaces such as Main Bar to make them more adaptable. Ms Brook also commits to continue working towards licensing for outside spaces, though as this has been a consistent goal for various DoES it is ambiguous how achievable this really is.
Ms Brook’s points regarding services leave much to be desired, such as her vague assertion to offer further training regarding policies such as ‘Ask for Angela’ — limited focus on student safety in the Union is perhaps questionable. Ms Brook also expresses a desire to promote design services within, offering training in the use of Canva, though it is negligible to what extent this is a concern within the student body.
Image: from left to right, Cam Brown and Lucy Brook.