An interview with Ben Harper

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Ben Harper, former CCO Education, was voted in to be the next VP (Education) on Friday, taking over from current officer Joe O’Neill. Harper was elected into the role with a majority of 290 votes, beating former Bowland Vice-President Chris Green, and LUSU Councillors Helen Mackenzie and Jack Biles.

After his election was announced Harper told SCAN that he was feeling “ecstatic.” After more than two grueling weeks campaigning Harper was overjoyed that it had a positive outcome. When asked how he felt Harper said, “I was sitting there seeing the results coming in stage by stage and I didn’t compute it whatsoever. It really comes down to how much effort you put into the campaign.”

Part of Harper’s ecstasy seemed to come from the shock he felt after winning, saying that he “didn’t feel prepared to win” prior to the results. “I didn’t expect to win at all. My decision to run was very last minute as I had to factor in my other priorities including my dissertation and my CCO position before I resigned. I didn’t feel prepared to win at all and I came here today prepared to lose.”

Harper however knows that winning the role was just the first hurdle. He says that his first priority in the role will fulfilling the key issues in his manifesto, particularly the hope for work-free Wednesdays which numerous candidates saw as an important policy.

“My first priority would be to make Wednesdays free for everyone since it’s going to be a massive change – we are talking about a big structural change to the University which would affect timetabling. It’s going to be a battle from the first month in office.”

Over the campaigning period many students were really engaged with the ideas he and the other candidates were proposing according to Harper. Although he was elected, he says he feels it is vital to recognise the potential policies and ideas from other candidates that students really got behind and supported.

When asked what issues he believed engaged students most, Harper again referred to work-free Wednesdays. “From my own campaign, I would say free Wednesdays, however, there was another candidate who campaigned based on that policy and we both ran on video recorded lectures. Whatever happens, I will pursue the video recorded lectures policy, even if all of my other proposals get shot down by management because several candidates for VP Education proposed having more video recorded lectures.”

Harper has high hopes that he can he fulfil these ideas but with only one year in the role what does he hope to have achieved a year from now? “I would like sports teams and societies to be regarded comparatively across the nation to be competitive and fully equipped to be up there amongst the best. I would like to see students offered more money for bursaries in line with inflation.

“I would like to see the placement culture at the management school spread out to other faculties because we’re always told it doesn’t matter what the degree is in, you can enter any field,” continued Harper. “Finally, I would like to see all lectures video recorded but of course, lecturers reserve the right not to be video recorded. This would be beneficial for students, particularly during revision time.”

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