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The first candidate running for the position of Vice President Academic Affairs to deliver their hustings speech was Danny Ovens. Ovens, current non-sabbatical Academic Affairs officer, began by stating the right of every student to “peace of mind” whilst studying at Lancaster, and went on to explain how, as a Sabbatical Officer, he would ensure this could be achieved.
He focused largely, as he has in his overall campaign, on the issue of graduate employability, qouting NUS President Wes Streeting in calling the current situation for graduates “very bleak”. He outlined plans to make the Careers Service (CEEC) more inclusive by making sure that it offers a good level of service to students from all departments, as well as aiming to use JCR Officers to help make students more aware of the provisions offered by CEEC.
When questioned on the issue of the University’s policy of returning coursework within four weeks, Ovens expressed a wish to move towards a system of “self-regulation”, hoping that, if students are made more aware of this policy, they will begin “questioning their departments” themselves rather than relying on the mediation of Academic Council. Speaking further about his time with the Council, he also commented on plans to “enhance” the Course Representative system, and to work to further develop the Council’s “internal structure”.
He was also questioned about the issue of student representation, and responded by making paticular reference to how Graduate College had been “pushed aside” in recent years, and spoke of his desire to rectify this by making sure that Post-Graduate students, both on and off campus, feel a more “localised” and integrated part of the student community.
As well as this, Ovens commented on the need to work closely with the Vice President Equality, Welfare, and Diversity, and outlined possible plans for a “joint campaign” involving all officers for both academic, welfare, and diversity issues. He ended by pledging to ensure the “continuing representation of all students”, and by announcing that it was “time to give LUSU back” to the student body.
Oven’s opponent in the race to be elected Vice President Academic Affairs is current University Council representative Simon Rimmington. He began his speech by celebrating Lancaster’s position as the top University in the North-West of the country, and spoke of the importance of ensuring that these “academic standards can be upheld”. The theme of “promotion” ran throughout Rimmington’s hust, and he constantly returned to the importance of making students more aware of Academic issues and campaigns across campus – the need to “start letting our students know what they are entitled to”.
As in Ovens’s speech, graduate employment was again an area of paticular focus. Rimmington stated the University’s “duty to make all students attractive to employers”, and spoke of a desire to “work with CEEC, and make it work”. His major plan for this, he stated, would be to change CEEC’s image. “CEEC looks like an office building” he claimed, before outlining the need to make it more attractive and “clear” to the student population.
Rimmington, like Ovens, used the example of Postgraduate students when speaking about student representation. He claimed that he wishes to gain further knowledge and understanding of the Postgraduate experience, and talked of achieving this by speaking to current Postgraduates over the summer months about their University experiences.
Another core element of Rimmington’s campaign has been the championing of anonymous marking, which he believes is a vital part of ensuring the Union is delivering “equality of opportunity” to all students. However, he also gave time in his speech to articulating the need to ensure that Wednesday afternoons would be kept free from Academic Contact hours. By dedicating Wednesday afternoons to wider student activities, he claimed, the University could make students “more rounded individuals”, something he feels is “crucial” to graduate employability.
He closed his speech by promising that his position on the sabbatical team would “not stop” him “being opinionated”, and warning that there was no way that he would be a “shrinking violet”.