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Opening up communication channels is key
University needs to provide a better experience if fees are going to rise
Research what stance students want him to take
George Gardiner is running because he “thrive[s] on steering and leading”.
“It’s something I’m good at and that I really enjoy doing.”
But mainly the former Fylde JCR Preisdent is standing for LUSU President because “I’ve got a lot of vested interests in a variety of things that the Union does”.
“I’ve got a lot of visions about having an exciting Students’ Union,” he said. “I think the role of President is the best to facilitate those visions and making the Union a really exciting place to be.”
On the task of keeping 12,000 students informed about what LUSU is doing, Gardiner was enthusiastic. “Communication is something that I’m quite big on.” He cited his time as a college president, saying that “[with] my team of 17, I was very open with them. It was very clear where we were going, what we were aiming to do at each event, each different thing that we’d put on, and I think that’s something that I’d carry through into this year as well”.
He acknowledged that “obviously, I can’t see 12,000 people on a week to week basis but [..] I think this is where the JCRs come in.” He plans to “have quite an open relationship with the JCR presidents and try and use them to the best of the Students’ Union’s advantage”.
Gardiner recognised that communication is key for the officers too, having already made a start. “Obviously I don’t know everything and I think that it would be wrong for me to go into the position [of LUSU President] thinking that I did know everything. [I’ve] been speaking to students on what they think is important, what they think the Students’ Union should be providing.”
Asked what he would have done differently to this year’s president, Gardiner stuck to his previous topic. “I think I would have probably communicated with students better”. He reasoned that “it’s not a particular criticism of this year’s president, it’s something that I think has gone before, it’s a trend.
“I think that it’s a general criticism of the Students’ Union”.
On the subject of setting a price for Lancaster’s tuition fees Gardiner was diplomatic. “I think the University needs to make sure it’s a reasonable price because it needs to be something that’s accessible still.” He argued that any raise would need reason: “At the same time [as raising fees] providing a better experience and better things than we’re getting at the minute to justify the increase.”
Pushed for his opinion on what level the University should charge, Gardiner was reluctant. “I don’t have an exact figure, but if I‘m responsible I’d say it needs to probably be towards the higher end of the fee.”
Previously Gardnier had said that if he could have one positive SCAN article written about him if he were elected President he’d be happy. His ratio of popularity to making the right decision was queried. He asserted that: “I’d always do the best thing” for the student population over the popular decision.
Gardiner argued that for “any major decision I’d have to use a lot of advice, I’d use a lot of research, for lack of a better term seeing as we’re at a university, and whatever was a sensible choice then I’d go for”.
He added: “I’d always try and do the most popular thing, because that’s the most important thing in this job, because you are representing over 12,000 students.”
He finished: “If I think it’s the best decision but I’m wrong then I’d have to go with the students rather than myself.”
Having said that he can identify with student issues being a student himself, Gardiner was asked whether he felt LUSU was lacking ordinary student involvement. He countered with a quota of involvement as proof of students engagement with their Union; “1,000 people involved with Involve, 4,000 people in societies, the amount of clubs we have, I think 130 officers.”
Gardiner added: “I do understand the issues [students have] because I’m going through them at the moment.”
Asked about the omission of any academic issues in the list of topics he perceives he may encounter, Gardiner reasoned that “it’ll be required of the President to steer the direction of the Union”, while “to an extent [..] the other Vice Presidents are very much leaders in their own remit”.
Asked how he would ensure his time and attention are equally shared across the five Vice Presidents under him, Gardiner will rely on “making sure that each of the Vice Presidents is meeting students, representing students.”