Joe O’Neill – Interview

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Current VP (Education) Joe O’Neill has been re-elected to serve another term as an FTO, winning the vote in the first round.

O’Neill secured a majority with a total of 1,173 votes, giving him a surplus of 31.5, compared to 1,021 votes for opponent and current CCO Education Caroline Arnold. Re-open nominations received 89 votes.

After a hard-fought campaign, O’Neill said he was “absolutely exhausted” but believes the result is a vindication of his record in office, “I think that students have seen that I’ve done a lot of hard work and are backing me to carry on that hard work… I have run on a record of change for students and I have managed that and I will continue to do that.”

In his second term O’Neill primarily wants to work towards creating an off-campus learning zone and online submission of coursework. He admits that “these might not even be done during my term in office but once we are putting them on the agenda and saying we need to be doing this…you start to begin the process that makes a change.”

Other policies contained in O’Neill’s election manifesto are January exams for half modules and ensuring the library refurbishment doesn’t affect student’s studies. One of O’Neill’s key pledges from his manifesto last year was a 24 hour library, a change which came into effect beginning of Michaelmas term.

O’Neill also had words of encouragement for Arnold. “She was an entirely credible candidate, if I was going to run against anybody it was good to run against Caroline. ‘Unfortunately’ for Caroline I have a record of achievement and that’s something difficult to run against”.

There were a number of people O’Neill wished to thank for his re-election success – including Lizzie Houghton, “who has kept me going through the whole thing”, Dave Whitlock and the rest of the current FTO team, which he will “miss wholeheartedly”.

On working with a new FTO team, O’Neill says “It’s going to be really exciting, I think they are all coming through bursting with new ideas… we can continue the work from last year as well as have a new team with new ideas”.

O’Neill also reflected on how he would approach his second term and cope with the demands of the role differently. “It’s very easy to forget that we are humans too and we do have a very heavy workload, so having some time off and looking after myself is something I need to work on better.”

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