Benedict, what were your motivations in standing?
Currently I don’t think EUSA represents the best interests of the students, given only 53 per cent of the student body feel represented by the Association. That’s shocking and it needs to be a lot higher, and EUSA can be a lot more than it currently is.
Another presidential candidate was talking about how structurally flawed the Students’ Association is. Do you think serious changes are needed, or are you focusing more on its day-to-day running?
As with the beef campaign, things aren’t made public enough. Had they known, a lot more people would have gone to the Student Council meeting and the motion wouldn’t have got that far. If anything, it’s embarrassing for the university: all of a sudden the Telegraph is interviewing people and it becomes national news. That’s not the reputation we want. We’re a fantastic research university, and that’s how we should be seen.
So you’d say the main problem is awareness of processes like Student Council?
That’s one of the key things, and something I want to do is gauge, at the beginning of next year, people’s sentiments towards different aspects of university life, and by extension what EUSA does. I’d like to have a mandate which can be used for forming policies.
Do you think these plans are sustainable beyond your term?
Definitely. One of the core things is investing more into mental health services, and that can be a lasting impact we have. We can certainly cap rent prices: the university is a community of 43,000 people and the council has a responsibility to listen to us. On a smaller level, I want to bring down the number of pointless emails we receive; keep our shuttle buses whilst expanding our transport network into our campuses, such as those for vets and medics; and provide the opportunity to keep matriculation cards on one’s phone, as with Apple Pay.
In regards to communications, what kind of channels would you use in place of ‘pointless emails’?
It could be an app where it’s filtered into much more structured things. It doesn’t have to be fifty emails a day as I currently get from the university and I just can’t filter out the noise. Emails should be more useful.
Are there any final things you’d like to say?
Just to reiterate, people might not think I’m representative of the whole university, that I’m not the pinnacle of diversity. That doesn’t mean I can’t understand people’s desires and represent them in a fair way. No matter your background, I’m here to fight for your rights.
Additional reporting: Conrad Maddox
Image: Edinburgh University Students’ Association