Laura Clayson – Interview

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Laura Clayson, current President of People and Planet society and the Amnesty International Society won the election for LUSU President, beating fellow candidates Luke Parchment and Adam Holt. Clayson, who becomes only the 6th female president for LUSU, won the contest by 560 votes.

Speaking to SCAN after the result, Clayson said “It feels amazing. I think people probably don’t think I’m as excited as I should be but I think I’m just in shock because I didn’t expect this result.” She was also keen to point out that she feels sad for the candidates that didn’t get the job “because everyone’s put so much work in and everyone’s been so friendly throughout it all.”

When asked if she thought she could work well in the new team, Clayson said “Definitely, I can imagine we all want to go in quite similar directions and I want to make sure I work side by side with every candidate, I don’t want to be the person who just sits upstairs in the office and is doing stuff, I want it to be a team effort and so I’m looking forward to working alongside those.”

Throughout the campaign Clayson said she’s made a lot of good friends and “I’m looking forward to making even more as I continue on as LUSU President – which sounds like a sentence I don’t think I’ve really accepted yet – but I’ll get on it.”

Clayson also pointed out that being the 6th female president is important. “It’s challenging the status quo because even if you look at the House of Commons right now it’s predominantly male.” She also stated that she wants to “empower different groups of people to be able to feel like they can have a go at it.”

Whilst other than Parchment, none of the candidates who ran from Presidency had any real experience in dealing with LUSU, Clayson believed “I think it’s quite important to have at least one candidate that’s outside of LUSU, because then you’re not entrenched within a particular mind set.” I just hope that my skills from other areas are applicable to the role I’m about to take on.”

Throughout the elections candidates were asked about about their political views and there is some alleged controversy about Clayson’s response. Clayson was eager to tell SCAN “[that] the rumour circulating that I lied in hustings about my political leanings. I’m not sure where this rumour materialised from.” Clayson said that it was “quite evident that I’m left wing” before quickly going on to say, “obviously I would ensure that my politics didn’t impact on the way that I ran the union.”

In terms of particular political campaigns Clayson said, “I really want to work on rent prices on campus as well as increased access to mental health services because I think the FTOS this year have done a cracking job with getting the two new councillors that started and then interviewing for a third, but the 127% increase in students requiring access to those those councillors are only going to be able to address so much of that. So I want to continue to put pressure on the university to look after the wellbeing of their students and not just necessarily the image of the university.”

She also highlighted the importance of it being the general election year and “making it clear to students that the elections are going to impact on their education and their life.” She also says that the privatisation of the student loan book is “something that we should really be looking into but I’ll see what everyone else thinks.”

Before the end of the interview Clayson was keen to say her thanks, “I want to thank everyone that was in my campaign team but in my acceptance speech I forgot to thank Toby Atkinson who is probably the cleverest person I have ever met and he’s been the brains behind this operation and has been completely supportive”.

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