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Currently President of the People and Planet society and the Amnesty International society, Laura Clayson aims to take a fresh approach to the LUSU President position. She stated: “I feel I’m quite confident about [LUSU’s new strategy] if we’ve got a good representation of all the people at university.”
Her manifesto contains six key aims and she is aiming to be only the sixth female LUSU President with her hashtag #6forthe6th.
She pointed to her presidential experience as making her a viable candidate. “I’m quite good at delegating but at the same time being aware that other people have got a lot of time constraints as well, so obviously not pressuring them to do it. I am quite willing to pick up the slack where it needs to happen.”
When asked about how she would approach relationships with the University and the student body, Clayson said: “I would ensure that I was approachable. I would also ensure that even though I was friendly towards the University management and the individuals that are higher up […] I’d want them to know that I was there to represent students and I wasn’t just there to be another part of their committee.”
A friendly, face-to-face approach is key to Clayson’s campaign. “I definitely want increased dialogue. I want LUSU to be more known around campus, what they’re up to, so that we can improve representation and democracy.
“I would definitely look forward to meeting up with lots of societies and clubs… forming ties with JCRs, finding out what their students have been saying to them.
“I also want to move my office downstairs if I can so that if people need to find me or ask me something then I’m approachable.”
When asked about LUSU’s current relationship with its student body, Clayson was quick to point out the positives. “I would say that I think LUSU is doing a lot of really good stuff this year like talking to UMAG [University Management Advisory Group] about rent increases and counselling.” Yet Clayson identified that improvements need to be made as students do not necessarily know what LUSU is doing. “There’s a bit of detachment between the students’ union and the students unless you make yourself get involved and find out what they’re doing.
“I’d like to have an online presence so that people are aware of what’s going on, what we’re up to.”
When asked about improving support for international students, Clayson referred to the NHS fees. “International students are facing having to pay NHS fees to use our health service which I really think is so ridiculous. They’re a really important part of our campus and they shouldn’t be being made into the ‘other’. That’s definitely something that needs to be addressed.”
Clayson emphasised that she wants to embrace diversity on campus. “There hasn’t been a female president at the Union for 10 years. That’s so long; I was so shocked when I heard that. I think just generally empowering girls to feel like they can do it too, and not just girls but self-defining women and other minority groups, the people that are underrepresented. That’s really important to me.”
Another of Clayson’s key aims is to improve LUSU’s environmental impact. “We’re 85th in the Green League Tables and that’s largely down to our investments because 14.13% of our investments [are] in the fossil fuel industry. It doesn’t look good on the University. I think we should be a progressive university and should be looking seriously at what we’re supporting – because if we don’t, we’re just no better than the other people that aren’t doing anything either.” She also pointed out LUSU’s current support on an ethical investment policy that she is fronting with the People and Planet society.
Her overall vision for LUSU has students at heart. When asked about the counselling queues, Clayson pointed out the £16.2 million profit that the University has made. “I think we need to start investing a lot more in people as opposed to just the University buildings.
“My overall vision would be a more unified campus community that has lots of diversity and lots of different stories within it but one where we can be like ‘Yes, we’re Lancaster University students’.”