Following Xander Mannix’ withdrawal from the candidacy race, Natalia Ellingham (she/her), a fourth year History and Classics student, is running unopposed for Vice President Activities and Services (VPAS). Nevertheless, she is competing against re-open nominations, so The Student spoke to Natalia on her goals for the role, her motivations for standing and why she stands out as a candidate.
She summarises her manifesto ‘in three words: connectedness, consistency and clarity’. She chose to run for the role following a history of community engagement roles within the university, including her current role as Student Community Leader within the School of Health and Social Science.
She states that it ‘involves organising events and activities for students to help them make friends, have fun, and make the most of their time in Edinburgh. This has been really successful, and so I think it’s important to enable similar opportunities for all students across the university.’
She has previously worked to improve aspects of student experience and noticed ‘strengths and weaknesses of the current activity and services offering’ which she hopes to build upon.
She has ‘also worked in various aspects of student experience for about a year, such as improving student feedback systems and highlighting student services to improve ease of access. Throughout this process, feedback has been really important to ensure that the work [she does] reflects what students actually want, need and deserve from their services – [she] would continue this approach in [her] Vice Presidency role, if elected.
‘Also, as a 4th year, [she has] experienced the strengths and weaknesses of the current activity and service offering – there is an inconsistency between what is offered between schools, colleges, and university-wide which isn’t fair. One of my manifesto points would be to tackle this by creating consistency in these services, giving all students, no matter what or where they study, equal access to support.
She states her prior knowledge and experience is a key strength for her candidacy, including ‘7 years’ experience from the cultural heritage sector which helped [her] understand different ways to engage people with activities and event, as well as barriers to participation’.
She summarises her goals for the role as ‘ensur[ing] there are equal opportunities for activities and services for all students’ and suggests ‘a weekly clinic’ to meet and discuss issues with students.
She hopes to build on current VPAS Réka’s work on facilitating the return of social life. She feels a hybrid approach to activities and services is still important and wants to make it easier or students to find out what events are taking place through and activity hub.
She also intends to improve the consistency of running societies, stating that ‘training is not offered on a consistent basis for different roles in different places.’
Accessibility is also an important focus, and she wants to make sure there are more low cost and free events, as she is ‘conscious of the fact that our student body is very diverse in many ways, partly in terms of wealth disparity’.
Moreover, she hopes to improve this in the commercial services, making sure that ‘nutritious, tasty and affordable food is always on offer, that caters to a range of dietary requirements’ as well as a ‘click and collect service for food’ to improve availability of food on campus during peak times.
Accessibility extends to the societies themselves and she wants to make venue bookings cheaper to help smaller societies.
Voting takes place from 10am on the 7th to 5pm 10th March.
If you’d like to discuss Natalia’s manifesto or your thoughts in general, she can be contacted on Instagram (@natalia4vpas), Facebook/LinkedIn (Natalia Ellingham), or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Image courtesy of Natalia Ellingham