EUSA Elections 2022 News

Interview with EUSA Presidential Candidate Eda Inal

Who are you and what do you feel sets you apart from other candidates?

This is a really great question and one that I struggled with at first, because I was going to say I genuinely care. That’s what makes me different. But the truth is, so does everyone else running. Why else would they run? But for people who don’t know me yet, my name is Eda and I’m a fourth year French & Spanish student. I’m a very proud cat mum (please watch my campaign video @electEda4pres to see my son interview me – and yes, I’m one of those crazy people who refers to their cat as their child) and I’m also an avid baker. I think the thing that most sets me apart from the others is that I’m the only one who grew up in Edinburgh city. We moved from Turkey when I was 9 and that’s how I learned English! I think coming from such a historically and geographically diverse place gives me a unique perspective. 

What made you choose to run for presidential candidate specifically?

I was a programme rep in second year, and they kept telling us it was great experience for becoming a Sabbatical Officer. So, I went online and did some digging, found out you had to run a campaign and get votes. Obviously, I chickened out. I was only in second year and barely surviving my classes. I’ve always wanted to run though because I think there’s a lot that could be improved. I’ve often felt disconnected from and unsupported by the Students’ Association and the University. I don’t want others to feel the same way, so here I am! I considered some of the VP roles, but when I actually sat down to write my manifesto ideas it was more fitting for a President. I love the intersectionality of it as well; the opportunity to work in all areas really called out to me. Plus, this is my last chance to run…for now at least. 

What would you consider to be your most important manifesto point and how do you aim to achieve it?

This is really difficult, because I actually have a gigantic list of things I want to improve, but there is a word limit on manifestos. I tried to pick the most significant ones from my big list already. So, it’s difficult for me to just pick one. I wouldn’t have picked them if they weren’t all important. But I think that it would either have to be between launching support for victims of sexual violence and expanding mental health & wellbeing initiatives or the point about calendar dates for all Sabbatical Officers and more connectivity in general.

I care deeply about everything on my manifesto, but as many people who have tried to sign up to counselling sessions with the University will be able to tell you, our current system is not working. Students have to wait for weeks, if not months to get any support. We have social work and psychology students who need to do placements. Instead of going to external entities, they could work within our campuses. For those who are waiting to see counsellors or the students on placement, while they’re waiting, we’d also offer them alternative forms of therapy through external entities. These could be yoga, reiki or Alexander Technique sessions among others. They wouldn’t be a replacement for traditional forms of therapy, but studies have shown them to be effective for physical and mental well-being.

The reason why calendar dates and opportunities to talk to Sabbatical Officers one-to-one is so important is because it gives students a chance to address their concerns and needs directly. People shouldn’t be jumping over hoops to try to get to us, it’s not fair. It would offer all of us better accountability and connectivity. I’m just at Easter Bush campaigning as I write this, and I can confirm that there is not really any Students’ Association presence. This disconnect needs to change for all satellite campuses, but even on main campus I have met people who don’t know what EUSA is.

Do you hope to make any changes to student democracy or how Edinburgh University Students’ Association is run?

I do think that there are things to reform, like the Elections themselves for example. There seems to be some “grey areas” the Association doesn’t inform candidates of, until something has happened that falls in that “grey area” category. I don’t think this is very inclusive or fair. If elected, I’d propose making some chances to the way the Regulations are upheld. I also think that there could be more done to incentivise people to vote and inform them of EUSA’s existence. At the moment, the Students’ Association represents a minority of people who vote. I think if we work with the different Schools, we could do more to change this.  

If elected, I’d also like to bring back some of my competitors with great ideas to work on their manifesto points should they agree to it!

How do you aim to represent the highly diverse student community at Edinburgh?

By listening. Being a minority ethnic student, I know first-hand how important it is to feel seen and heard. Many students at Edinburgh have great ideas and many concerns that need to be addressed. I want students to have a say in how their Students’ Association is running. This is why I have manifesto points about connectivity and student solutions to student problems. I don’t think I should be the only one coming up with ideas, because one brain can only do so much. It’s especially important to consult students from minority backgrounds (this could be their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious background etc.) on how they’d like their concerns to be addressed. This is why I’ve been taking notes during my campaign, when students approach me with problems I’m not well informed about. I’m not claiming to know everything, because I don’t. That’s why I want Sabbatical Officers to hear from you. 

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you so much for this opportunity and thank you to everyone reading this right now! Again, if you’d like to know more about me, my campaign and see my cat, check out my Instagram account @electEda4pres. Please remember to vote and consider me for your number 1 preference for President! Tell your friends, spread the word! And most importantly, as we approach exam season – be kind to yourselves! 

Photo courtesy of Abbie Smith via Eda Inal