‘We can easily think of Lancaster as being racist’: SU candidates on changing LUSU

We interviewed your LUSU Presidential candidates


With elections opening tomorrow, we decided to interview your LUSU President and VP Education candidates so that students could get to know them better. We asked candidates what their main goals are, what sets them apart from their opponents, and what they’d like to see change at the uni.

All of the FTO candidate manifestos can be found here.

President: Cerys Evans

Via @cerys.evans.16 on Instagram

1) What are your main goals for the role?

“If elected I want to focus on 3 main areas:

  1. Getting you where you want to go easily and cheaply
  2. Reforming student services to actually serve students
  3. Making campus an affordable place to belong

“Specifically I want to address:

  1. Bus reform, parking on campus, and safe transport at night.
  2. Counselling and Mental Health service audit and improvement, ILSP provision for students waiting for diagnosis, and making ASK work for students.
  3. Continuing the current cost of living support, society access fund, making it easier to access existing services and groups

“Some highlights:

“Buses – Buses are not working for students. I want to continue negotiating with Stagecoach for a more frequent, more reliable, more affordable bus service.

“Welfare – Waiting times for support has increased massively because the university is recruiting more students without hiring more support staff. Our support staff have been underfunded and overworked for too long and I want that to change.

“Cost of living – The current officer team have secured funding for free food on campus to help students through the cost of living crisis. If elected I want to secure that funding for future years and increase the frequency of free food.”

2) What would you bring to the role that you think your opponents wouldn’t?

“I believe that Nicolae and I both bring similar experience and I don’t feel that direct comparison in this format is particularly helpful, so instead I’m just going to share why I would make #WheelyGoodPres without any intentional comparison to Nicolae or his experiences.

“I know and love LUSU. I’ve worked closely with the central team of officers and staff to deliver events and campaigns throughout my time as a student. I have excellent working relationships in the office and have absolute confidence in being able to ensure a smooth handover if elected.

“I know and love LUSU. I’ve worked closely with the central team of officers and staff to deliver events and campaigns throughout my time as a student. I have excellent working relationships in the office and have absolute confidence in being able to ensure a smooth handover if elected.

“I think that I’m really approachable and easy to talk to and I think that’s so important for officers. Students need to trust us and know they can let us know when things aren’t great. I believe that I am that person now for the groups that I work with and I have confidence that I can be that person for the wider student body if elected.”

President: Nicolae Popescu

Via @nicolae4president on Instagram

1) What are your main goals for the role?

“My vision of Lancaster is a place where students don’t depend on food handouts, are listened to and represented to by their Students Union, while also having equal access to welfare support, including substance abuse care. 

“Out of my three Cost of Living policies, my priority is to increase the LOAF financial hardship fund. Currently only £500,000 is available for students in dire financial need. This leads to those who cannot afford food and necessities being declined of funds on the basis they aren’t struggling enough. I will lobby the University Council and Vice-Chancellor to increase the £500,000 threshold in the year to come. 

“I also seek to make our SU more communicative and representative of students. Most students don’t know who their FTOs are and who represents them. I want to establish a permanent SU stall at all Farmers Markets so you know who fights for your rights.  

“Lastly, our university doesn’t have a single therapist specialising in substance-abuse. Drugs are a reality of university life, yet our university has neglected specialised care for too long. Addictions lead to anxiety, paranoia and depression. I seek to lobby our university to introduce a substance abuse support programme and hire additional specialised therapists. In doing so, reducing the waiting time for all counselling needs.”

2) What would you bring to the role that you think your opponents wouldn’t?

“For the last one year I have been the President of Fylde College, marking my 3rd year on the JCR. This role is my proudest achievement, as my work on Freshers Week alongside other term-time events directly contributed to College life that we all know and love. I want to take the insights I gained from directly working with students into the President role and keep making students’ lives better. 

“However, I also have other unique experiences that none of the other FTO candidates have. I’ve worked as a paid Consultant for Work in Progress for half a year and as an Investment Analyst for LUIFS for 1.5 years. Learning practical financial aspects and business operations. I’ve worked as a Student Ambassador and Sugarhouse Staff during my second year. Learning what incoming students expect from university and what our current students expect from the Lancaster nightlife. I even worked at the Work Foundation think tank during this summer and saw how to directly impact national policy. 

“I understand students’ concerns and expectations, but more importantly. I have the experience necessary to fix our university’s problems. “

3) What are the main changes you’d like to see in the university?

“When we as students talk about Lancaster, a few bad things come to mind. The discrimination shoved under the rug, our Students Union which is generally known for being useless and our abysmal mental health services (ranked 79th out of 80 universities nationally). 

“My policies are aimed at changing these things and making the social impact we need. Hate crimes and racial discrimination are by far the biggest issues. We can easily think of Lancaster as being racist, and we always hear of the occasional hate crime, just check OnlyLanc’s latest posts. For one of my policies, I seek to hold the university accountable by checking all of last year’s hate crime cases to see if they followed protocol in a timely manner and provided a satisfactory response. If not, hold the university accountable. 

“Secondly, we don’t like the SU, but students don’t know who to hate. I want you to at least know what the SU is up to, know your President and why are things like this. Which is why I want to establish SU information points through campus with weekly updates about what the SU does. 

“Lastly, our mental health services are slowly improving, but I want to accelerate their improvement with the drug support programme I want to introduce highlighted above.”

 

A Lancaster University spokesperson said, “The University takes hate crime and discrimination very seriously and has a strong focus on the mental health and wellbeing of our student community, and as such we would look forward to working with the successful candidate and LUSU on addressing their priorities.

“Overall the University is allocating around £5.8m to help individual students in situations of financial hardship during the 2022-23 academic year. The University has agreed to invest an additional support package of £2.4m for 2022-23 which is included in this total.

“Part of this sum has been used to double the Lancaster Opportunity and Access Fund (LOAF) for student hardship and the way applications are assessed has also changed due to rising living costs. The LOAF fund will continue to be monitored this year in case it comes under further pressure.”

Elections for FTO open Tuesday 7th March at 10am.