Durham SU Officer Elections: Meet the candidates calling for your votes

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As campaigning gets underway for the election of 2016/17’s Durham SU Student Officers, Palatinate talks to the candidates about their aims and ideas.

File_005_cropALICE DEE (PRESIDENT), JCR President at St Aidan’s College

Why do you want to be elected as President? I want to be President because, contrary to the beliefs of most people or the viewpoints of most students, I really care about the Union. I think it is really important that we have a strong Union. I have worked really hard during my time in Durham trying to improve the Union. Previously a College Rep, I have also been on a Union society exec. I have worked a lot with the Union and I think that I know it pretty well. I would love the opportunity to continue to work with the Union over the next year. As JCR President, I have done a lot trying to improve the representation of the Union in college as well. To be President of the Union would be a dream.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I would like to review the current structure of Union Reps in College and how the Union engages with Colleges. Being JCR President, College is the heart of my life, but I think, as a Union, we need to take the Union into College, and not expect people to come to us. So I think I would like to review the Union Rep system and give them more of a defined role in promoting things within College and be more of a source of information about the Union.

What would you like to be remembered for? I think consultation with students is an important thing. On my manifesto, I have lots of other things, but a really important thing is getting peoples’ viewpoints. I think Mille has actually done that really well this year—especially since the new Vice-Chancellor is very keen on student viewpoint and evidence-based policy, so that’s great. But I think it is important that the Union has as many opportunities as possible for students to be able to give their voice and feed that into what we are saying to the University and how we can change what we are doing.

What’s your favourite movie? The Notebook.

JADE AZIM (PRESIDENT), Politics at St Cuthbert’s

File_001_cropWhy do you want to be elected as President? I know that students are disaffected because I feel disaffected. I want to emulate the models of other Unions that are more active; that get more for their students. I want to see this Union to become more than just an idol place. I want to see it being a campaigning force for the students. The Union has been historically timid and generally inspired by only apathy, and one of my main reasons would be to reverse this. I have got campaign experience myself and I thought it would be best to try and translate that into a Union that actually delivers for the students. 

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? Millie is excellent, but my approach would be uniquely one of consistent lobbying. I would be confrontational where needed to deliver results. I would probably be more aggressive with my lobbying of the university. I have seen the anger about particularly rising costs of living, especially accommodation fees and I would try to be more aggressive lobbyer.

What would you like to be remembered for? To make the University more inclusive. I have seen how it’s become incredible inclusive in terms of affordability and I want to see more kids from my background and backgrounds that would not normally come to Durham. I want to see it become a more inclusive place for them. I would like to be remembered as the President that made Durham affordable and accessible for everyone regardless of background.

What’s your favourite movie? Love Actually.


File_007_cropISAAC ABRAHAM (ACADEMIC AFFAIRS), History & Politics at St Chad’s

Why do you want to be elected as Academic Affairs Officer? I think there is a lot to be desired in how the Union currently works. Experiencing the Union for three years, I think I have identified areas in which the Union can improve and I’d like to impact change on academic level by identifying those areas.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I think the Course Rep system has got a lot of stick this year. I would make communication with Course Reps and Departments one of my key priorities. I’d also like to devolve powers down to Departments and get rid of the “one size fits all” system.

What would you like to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered for the person who finally gets exam feedback across the entire University.

Favourite movie? Gattaca. It’s about a guy who lives in a universe where you are singled out based on your genome and he really wants to go to space but can’t because he has the wrong DNA.


File_000_cropMATT COLLINS (ACADEMIC AFFAIRS), Physics at St Cuthbert’s


Why do you want to be elected as Academic Affairs Officer?
I have been a Course Rep and a Faculty Rep previously. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how the system is broken so I really feel like I would be able to make a difference there. People run for these positions because they know that there is something broken and they want to fix it.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I would to ensure that we have trained Course Reps—a full cohort of them—as soon as the year starts, (except for first-years). I really want to start seeing recorded lectures, though that is not that different from what my predecessor is doing.

What would you like to be remembered for? I want to be remembered as the guy that stood up for you.

Favourite movie? Pulp Fiction.

File_002_cropGIULIA ‘Monty’ MONTEFIORE (ACADEMIC AFFAIRS), Politics & Economics at Hild-Bede


Why do you want to be elected as Academic Affairs Officer?
I wanted to be elected because the passion that I have for education it was has been driving me for the past four or more years. Having experienced different, international education systems, I really want to make a change in Durham because there are a lot of things that I don’t agree with. My thoughts have been developing quite a lot over the last few years.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? Bottom-up change for education. I would have much more contact with students via a bottom-up approach. That doesn’t mean having contact with only students, but getting the change through different Departments.

What would you like to be remembered for? Someone who enabled long-term change at Durham.

Favourite movie? Django Unchained. I have recently become a fan of Tarantino!


File_003_cropLISA WHITLING (ACADEMIC AFFAIRS), Philosophy at St Aidan’s

Why do you want to be elected as Academic Affairs Officer? I really want to make sure that students feel comfortable with talking to their Departments, and create a system where there is a regular dialogue and people feel comfortable registering complaints or concerns.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I would really want to use the feedback from the recent review of the Course Rep system to implement key changes before the academic year begins. I’d really want to work to improve the representation of Queen’s Campus, as I feel like that they are often overlooked.

What would you like to be remembered for? For being someone who people feel they can really come and talk to about their academic problems. I really want to work hard to make a difference in how people experience academic life at Durham.

Favourite movie? 500 Days of Summer.

File_009_cropKARA-JANE SENIOR (ACTIVITIES), Current Activities Officer at Durham SU

Why do you want to be elected as Activities Officer? I have actually really enjoyed the job this year and there are still quite a few things I still really want to work on. There has been a big staff restructure this year. I am allowed to do up to two terms so why not take that and then I can feel happy when I’ve left that I have done as much as I possibly could’ve done.

If elected, what would you like to do differently or what would you like to add that you haven’t already done? In the past I have been a lot quieter than some of my other fellow Officers, and that has been quite something—learning to get the confidence to go and stand up in front of people and to go up to students and talking to them. I really enjoy speaking to students.

What would you like to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered for…making sure that student group execs do have the basic resources that they need.

Favourite movie? I actually really love A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger. I saw it at the cinema when I was younger. There’s just something about the end when he is pushing for his dream.

File_004_cropJO GOWER (COMMUNITY), Psychology at St Cuthbert’s

Why do you want to be elected as Community Officer? I want to be elected because I love Durham but there are some key issues that are going on that people have noticed and are angry about and they are right to be angry about them. The Students’ Union motto is “enabling students” and that is great, but to be honest it is not what we need. What we need is empowering students, we are able!

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I have three main points that I want to work on. These are accommodation and housing, equality and diversity and student safety. Esther has done a really good job this year and I have a lot of respect for her but there are key things I would work on. Mostly, it would be getting the student body together to do things as a whole.

What would you like to be remembered for? I would like to be remembered for actually making a lasting difference.

Favourite movie? Shrek. I love it—it’s just great. He lives in a swap, he’s grumpy as hell, and no-one likes him.

File_006_cropANOUSHKA TWINING (DEVELOPMENT), Criminology at Hild-Bede

Why do you want to be elected as Development Officer? I think the Union is becoming more relevant to more students, especially over the last two years. I would really like to be part of the conversation of making it better and more relevant in the future, particularly by getting some really good things into the five-year plan, which is up for renewal this year.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I would like to see more training, skills career workshops run by the Union; not just for the employment sector but for clubs and society execs, teaching how to do roles such as treasurer, social secretary, how to hire an event, etc.

What would you like to be remembered for? Doing a good job and not anything negative.

Favourite movie? Reservoir Dogs.

File_008_cropADAM JARVIS (DEVELOPMENT), Mathematics at Trevelyan

Why do you want to be elected as Development Officer? I really want to make a difference. I think I would really enjoy the role and I think I would be really good at it. The Union has had a big change in its structure, particularly with the creation of the new Director for Learning, so that really impacts on the Development Officer. I would like to have a hand in shaping the role.

If elected what would you like to do differently to your predecessor? I want to the Union to be more relevant, but I think it’s a long term thing. This year I want to make it more useful by working with the Colleges on an individual level to see how we can help them and what they can do to improve their experiences.

What would you like to be remembered for? I think my big thing that is different from what other people are trying to do is the idea of work experience programmes, so I would probably go for that.

Favourite movie? Pitch Perfect.

Featured image: Durham SU

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