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Rhiannon Llystyn Jones is a former President of the Students Union, and is running again this year. She cited the huge role students politics has played in her life as one of her motivations to run again, saying that she hadn’t appreciated the “power of politics” to help people until she came to University, and that she had the skills to help.
On her past experience as college and Union President, she said that her experience would enable her to hit the ground running, describing herself as “probably one of the most experienced candidates out there”, having dedicated her university career to student politics.
On what sets her apart from other candidates, she said: “I already understand the role of president, I already know the connections within the university to achieve manifesto pledges… I know Josh is the current President but up until the day he finishes his time in office I’m still more experienced than him.”
Her first priority would depend on the team she was elected with – there could be shared priorities, and working as a team to identify what they can all collaboratively work on. “(who gets elected) will tell you what students prioritise, what pledges they are voting for.
Rhiannon says she loves the concept of students unions and “the ability to empower students.” On the negatives of the Union she says what annoys her the most is the vagueness of what the Union does, with students having little idea of what services the Union provide. She stated that “only 6% of students know there is an advice team in the students union” and described that figure as “abysmal.”
On her role as the public face of the Union, she expressed a desire to bring back her “update of the week” initiative to boost student engagement and introduce social media innovations such as Instagram story polls. She wants to see better engagement than just getting “a snapshot of people walking on Alex Square at the time”, and said that she wanted to put out more incentivised surveys to speak in language the university understands, “the language of data and statistics.”
She says she is not one to “shy away from the awkward questions that need to be asked”, citing a time where she challenged the Vice Chancellor about his rhetoric about Lancaster as a global university made in a room of white male executives.
Rhiannon doesn’t see campaigning on fees or maintenance loans as a binary choice, and highlighted that the government has just announced a review into tuition fees and Higher Education funding. She said that she would “try to make your maintenance loan stretch as far as possible”, but that when tuition fees are on the table it would be remiss to miss the “rare” opportunity in front of students.
Her biggest mistake in her first term? “I think I tried to do too much too quickly… I didn’t appreciate that I was on a learning curve. I just wished I had slowed down and focused on that before trying to hit my manifesto pledges. This time round I can do it from the get-go.”