Aditya Lathar: “I’m running for change. I’m running for real issues”

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Aditya Lathar, a third year Law student from Stephenson College, is running for SU President for the second time, after his campaign last year failed to win enough votes to land him the role. Just before the election hustings, Palatinate interviewed Lathar to get a greater insight into his policies, and how his presidency would look, if elected.

Focusing straight away on his overall ambition, the Stephenson Internal Officer said he is running for SU President because he “want[s] to run for students’ welfare”, and believes he is well-equipped to fulfil this goal because “I’m always in touch with students. I just want to know their problems or their issues”. In keeping with this motivation, he explained that he constructed his manifesto promises, such as 24/7 JCRs in all colleges, by listening to students around him.

When asked which of his manifesto policies he would prioritise, Lathar countered enthusiastically: “Whatever I put in my manifesto, every one will be my first priority. When I’ll be elected as SU President I will work on my manifesto first, then other issues. I have covered almost everything in my manifesto.”

“I’m running for real issues”

Adithya Lathar

Lathar then continued, explaining why he thinks each of his policies are so important, defending his policy on five year e-Library access after completing our degrees defiantly, claiming that “it is [our] right […] even when [we] are graduated”.

Furthermore, he believes his no-detriment policy for those who will be taking normal, ‘offline’ exams in Easter Term 2023 is vitally important as, having not practised this exam format at University “it will be very hectic for [current first-and second-year students] and they will have a lot of pressure”.

The current President of Durham’s Indian society also feels very strongly that Durham should establish a University Press: “It’s very strange to know that Durham University is the third oldest university in the United Kingdom, and we don’t have a University Press. […] When we talk to our peers [at other universities], they just make fun of us […] even Cardiff has one!”

Lathar was asked whether a University Press will directly benefit the average student, and whether this policy would fall within his remit as SU President, given the role is orientated towards fighting for students’, not academics’, interests. Lathar responded by saying this policy, if successfully implemented, would improve our image as a University: “research papers will be published by the University, and it will definitely help generations to come.”

“Durham University is the third oldest university in the United Kingdom, and we don’t have a University Press”

Aditya Lathar

In a similar vein, Lathar was challenged about whether many of his policies were realistically achievable given they seem to elide the responsibilities of the SU President with the responsibilities of other bodies within the University community, such as JCRs, colleges, and the University itself: “[These bodies] all work for student welfare. I will definitely work hard to coordinate among them for these facilities. I said about free printing facilities. We have free printing facilities in my college. That’s where I took the idea.

“When we are already paying so much for our university, why shouldn’t we have these basic facilities?”

On the matter of funding free printing facilities Lather pledged that “[the SU will] provide printers to every JCR and then we’ll decide and see how much funds we have. If we have enough funds, or if we can even successfully lobby the University to give us more funds, then we will definitely try our best allocate funds for the paper [for the printers]”.

Lathar made this pledge despite suggesting he doesn’t know exactly how much available funding the SU has, as he is not in the SU currently, and would have to “see how much funds [sic] we’ve got” once assuming the role.

On his plan to challenge rising accommodation fees in the city, Lathar had this to say: “We have to work hard. Because it’s not in our hand. […] It depends on private accommodation. We have to work hard with the local MP. The local mayor. Involve a lot of people, big people. Because it’s not in the hands of the Student Union President. For that we have to lobby a lot. For that, we should campaign.”

Asked how the Aditya campaign this year is different from last year’s Aditya campaign that failed to win the SU Presidency, Lathar rebutted: “It’s all the same. Because I’m running on the same issues. I wasn’t elected last year but the issues are the same”. He goes on to say he’s “running on real issues, that students want” and believes his strategy has the capacity for success because last year “people really liked my policies […] that’s why I got 800 votes”.

“When we are already paying so much for our university, why shouldn’t we have these basic facilities?”

Aditya lathar

Charismatically, Lathar still spoke about his ambition to lobby for a University swimming pool that all students can use, despite removing the policy from his manifesto this year: “You won’t believe, we don’t even have our own swimming pool, for normal students. If you go to any third world country, even they have swimming pools […] in our University [we] have to go to Freeman’s Quay.”

Reiterating what became quite the slogan in the interview, he affirmed, “I’ll lobby for that […] I’m running for real issues”.

We spent some time talking about how student engagement in SU elections could be improved, after voter turn out was just under 14% last year. He thinks “it’s very important that students are engaged in student politics [students should] have faith in us”.

That said, in line with the Democracy Review findings, he acknowledges that “people prefer their JCRs compared to our Student Union because there are lots of activities going on there.” His solution is the annual cultural fest for all students that he pledges in his manifesto: “It will definitely help students engage with the Student Union”.

To culminate the interview, Lathar was asked how he’d like to be remembered, if he were elected. His impassioned response plugged his campaign slogan: “The DSU needs change. And Aditya Lathar is the change. […] I’m running for change. I’m running for real issues”.

Image Credit – Aditya Lathar via Facebook

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