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“I’m keen on increasing student participation”
Emily Blanchard – Furness College
Emily Blanchard hopes to ensure Lancaster’s live entertainment scene is more student-led, by improving communication with the student body and encouraging students to suggest their own event ideas. She is keen on increasing student participation in democratic processes by making the Full Time Officer (FTO) team more accessible and the elections more understandable.
Having been Elections Officer for LUSU since 2009, Blanchard has been responsible for organising such events like candidate speech events, results nights and block runs. Her work as a social secretary involved organising events every week, ranging from movie nights to nights out in Manchester. Between herself and her co-social secretary, Blanchard claims to have quadrupled participation rates for the events she helped organise.
When asked how she would improve the representation of postgraduate students, Blanchard replied, “I do think we’re improving in our graduate representation in general but there’s still a long way to go, [graduates] nowhere near match the turn-out or representation of any of the undergraduate colleges by a long shot.”
She continued: “I think the entire structure of representation of postgraduates needs to be looked at. We’re quite good at undergraduate representation but postgraduates have got a different set of needs […] I think reform will be on the cards.”
Blanchard believes that small and large scale events are important, stating that they appeal to different kinds of students. “Small scale events, ones that maybe don’t attract quite as many people, are more comfortable for people who might not enjoy the big loud and active socials; so they’re both equally important and need as much attention as each other.”
Discussing the expansion of the live music scene at Lancaster, Blanchard thinks “it’s a case of building on successes that we’ve already had and working with different bands.” When pressed for specific details of how she intended to manage large acts, Blanchard confessed, “I’m not sure at the moment but I would be more than willing to learn and do whatever I can.”
Blanchard was asked how she intended to integrate international students into the Lancaster student experience. “I think a lot of it is about information. I’ve been talking to the NUS International Officer about integration in both events and democracy. In terms of democracy it seems a lot of the information needed is either not given to international students or information is very sudden, so people don’t really understand quite what’s going on. I’d like to work to improve that.”
Discussing the engagement of students in democratic processes, Blanchard believes that communication is key. “Once people begin to understand how much impact student representation can have they want to get their voice heard, and I think they [students] need to be aware of quite what LUSU can give them.”