Martin Ghabie is running for VP Union Development. He says that the Union has offered him “so much support and help,” and that this was one of the things that made him think about running for the role. Martin appreciates all the hard work that goes into the Union and wants to be a part of it, helping them to engage with a wider audience.

He said that his time on the Cartmel JCR has helped prepare him for the role, having engaged with the union on behalf of the college in the past and working in a tight-knit team. “The Union is sort of a parent to the JCR” he says, so he hopes his JCR experience will transfer over easily.

His unique selling point, he says, is “a fresh perspective. And once I get into something I take it seriously – being on the Cartmel JCR nearly cost me my degree!” Martin sees one of the key potential issues as engaging with the democratic structures on campus; he says there is an amazing ideas platform in the Union, and wants to encourage more initiatives like. He also wants to see JCRs given more support to help deal with the “overwhelming” pressures.

For him, he thinks the role will be a “fantastic opportunity to work with a great group of people,” and hoped it would be rewarding. Because of his JCR experience he believes this job will “fit me perfectly.”

Martin says that as a Cartmel JCR officer his job was to run all the hustings, chairing the weekly meetings and general co-ordination, and hopes that he can build on that in the running of campus wide elections. The scrutiny panel has been criticised on its ability to hold the Union to account, so to increase transparency Martin wants to see more use of social media to make meetings more accessible, especially to “those people living in town” who don’t feel engaged with campus politics. He suggested Facebook live broadcasts as a method of getting people involved, or the widespread distribution of meeting minutes for those who want to read them.

Does he think most students engage with the JCR system? “I think engagement is quite high at the beginning, when people are fairly new to the college system. Throughout the academic year the engagement tends to fall, and I think that’s because of a lack of transparency. JCR do a fantastic job – they are so student focused.” To resolve the lack of transparency, Martin wants to improve the lines of communication from democratic bodies to the students, pointing to Cartmel’s system of block reps as a useful model to follow for increasing personal connections.

Martin’s manifesto mentions the idea of Sugarhouse as a “student-lead nightclub,” and when asked to elaborate on that says that he wants to see the “fantastic off-campus venue” effectively utilised. “What’s stopping us from using this venue to engage with students living off campus for different events, different societies? This could secure the future for Sugar.”

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