Oliver Robinson- VP Union Development


Oliver has represented Lancaster as a City Councillor for two years, and he cites that part of this role was to lobby the Students’ Union on student interests, from saving Bailrigg FM to Sugarhouse to democratisation. Rather than shouting from the sidelines, Oliver wants to do the best by students through representing them.

He also brings the experience of having seats on two boards, including Vice-Chair of North West Employers which represents the employment side of collective bargaining agreements, and the George Fox Educational Committee, which gives out grants for vocational education. He chairs a governance committee at the City council, which he feels would be useful in evaluating the governance at the SU. Equally, this gives him the experience of working with external bodies.

Oliver stated that what sets him apart from other candidates is his outside experience of organisations he feels are run better than the SU, so will bring a fresh perspective to the governance structures. He cited his pledge to have a progress bar for candidate pledges on the website as a simple example of this, referencing Sheffield SU’s website as an example. 

He argues that the “who, what, why” of governance should be easy to point to and that this creates problems for student media. He questions how student media groups can hold the SU to account if they don’t know what the SU is doing. He went on to state that we should have an editorially free student media so that they can print more critical things of the University and Union. He said he had heard “horror stories” of editing SCAN articles after publication, making the lives of SCAN unnecessarily difficult. 

In asking what his first priority would be, Oliver said he would assess the current governance structures and would want to work in the organisation before suggesting changes. He stated that everything revolves around good governance and that this can come from implementing simple changes like publishing meeting minutes straight after its finished and live streaming the meetings whenever possible. He argued that the Executive Committee and Trustee Board meetings should always be live-streamed, only turning the camera off for exempt items. 

The interview questioned how Oliver would prioritise the long list of issues in his manifesto. He highlighted that he had tried to be realistic in his manifesto. While he would like to implement all these changes, he does not think the SU is in a functional enough state to do so. 

He cited that making students more involved in the SU is not about aesthetic consultation exercises but about having students in the room. He referred to his pledge to reinstate elected positions on Union Council and reinstate Union Council, an institution of 20 elected students which would hold the FTO’s to account. He would also shift the focus to Union Council over Executive Committee as the primary decision-making model. Students would be able to attend Union Council so they could influence decision making so that decisions are made on policy, not personality. 

He talked about his work ethic of “cooperation is better”, not being afraid to delegate decisions to other people. While he said he was sometimes too trusting, he felt this enabled him to follow others when they know best, empowering them to make the right decisions. Oliver mentioned the JCR’s relating to this, that they should be trusted to manage their own spaces instead of the University’s approach controlling them on one centralised system. The SU’s role in this should be to help facilitate those needs. 

Ruth-Anne Walbank

My name is Ruth, and I'm the Editor of SCAN for 2019-20. I have been the Arts and Culture Editor in 2018-19, and the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor before that. I've written over 80 articles for SCAN across a variety of sections.
If you have any questions about the newspaper, feel free to message me!

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