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Improving communication is the key to Ellie Lawrence’s campaign. For the law student good communication underpins everything she hopes to achieve if elected. She wants to see departments, the Students’ Union, and Student Based Service talking more to provide the best service for students: “There is not very many people who speak to all the different departments who are aware of what is going on, and I do think that I can be that central point.”
She hopes to put a larger focus on alternative careers, and feels that alumni could be better utilised especially as part of mentoring programmes. She would also like to see more departments offering credited modules for doing voluntary work. “Even if you did not do a module that is specific to your degree, even if it was more in the realms of volunteering and getting involved in the community, that is always going to add things to your prospects and your skill set.”
But she is aware that her first challenge will be communicating to students why they should vote for someone who has never held an elected officer position within the Students’ Union.
“I think I have prepared on a very different level to people who may have been CCO or on a JCR,” Lawrence explains. “As careers officer last year, and President this year of the Law Society I feel like I actually have greater access to students. […] I think there is such an old habit of it being presidents of JCRs going on to be in LUSU: it’s important to realise that there are other resources that need to be tapped. I think I’ve been close to the student body I have gained a lot of ideas and a lot of knowledge.”
For Lawrence a major issue is the lack of awareness about the department representative system in the student body. She wants to see more ‘standardisation’ in electing department reps, and more conversations between representatives and subject societies. “I think it is again an issue of awareness and I think it needs to be stated who the student reps are: everyone in a department and subject needs to know who their student reps are. Barely anyone knows who their Faculty representative is: some don’t even know they exist.
“Communication is always something that needs to be constantly developing, we’ve just done so much with reps this years and it’s an on-going issue.”
Better communication she hopes will prevent department changes, such as those going on in FASS, coming as such a shock to students.
Similarly Lawrence feels there hasn’t been enough communication about the library refurbishment to the majority of students. She said: “I think it is really about how students can be involved in that and also stay up-to-date and in the loop, because I don’t think a lot of students know what is going on, and what the result is, so I think there needs to be more student input and resources.”
To better engage students she wants to draw on her experience as a College of Law representative, especially difficult to reach groups, such as postgraduates and international students. She feels there needs to be a “real understanding” of the issues faced by both groups: for the former, being as informed about university and careers events as undergraduates are, and for the latter more help in adapting to a different education system.