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Monique Winstanley, a business studies major, is running for president because she wants to “make a change, and really engage students”. She thinks that especially as fees rise, it’s important for students to have a say in their education and the experience they have a university.
Winstanley cites her unique experience working full time before university as a reason she is uniquely qualified for the role, as she has been responsibility for a number of programs and projects.
In order to be more representative, Winstanley believes there needs to be more focus on getting direct student feedback. She mentions in person interactions, such as with whiteboards in Alex Square, but also believes surveys are a good strategy for getting student ideas. However, she understands that students don’t always engage with surveys they are sent, and they can get lost in emails. She thinks “if there was something at the end where you could be rewarded, you could get into a prize drawing, something like that where you can get back and feel like you’re making a change”.
Winstanley thinks that this lack of student engagement is the biggest issue student face. “The more they get involved with changes in the university, the more that adds to their experience, they’ll feel happier, and it’s all about creating that happiness and wellbeing with students.”
When it comes to the Union’s political engagement, Winstanley thinks it’s up to students “they have their own political backgrounds so it’s up to them if they want to get more involved.”
Mental health issues are a big focus for Winstanley, who believes more emails to spread information “even if its links to things like meditation apps” would be a way to help students combat mental health issues. “They need to know there are ways to deal with it. The Union also offers the Nightline service, I think it would be a good idea to in addition to doing the phone call service, to do online messaging as well” she explains, mentioning that some students don’t always feel comfortable talking about problems due to issues like anxiety.
She also highlights the high cost of living that affects many students. “On campus there two shops, SPAR and Central, and I think it would be a good idea to introduce a loyalty scheme because a lot of students on campus are dependent on these shops if they can’t actively travel to town and back.” A stamp system where at the end students get something back, whether it’s a free coffee or an arranged deal with a local business, she believes this kind of tool to give back to students would help make things more affordable.
When it comes to balancing the role the president has, being heavily involved in University management as well as being a voice for students, Winstanley thinks that when students want to see change there needs to more ways for the students themselves to get involved, more than just her taking the ideas the university.
Trivia: Monique was aware of the broad governing structures, but not of the differences between the two organizations.