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Tom Burgess from SCAN interviewed Shannon McCaul, the new VP for Societies and Media.
How have you been over lockdown? Have you learnt any new skills?
I’ve been alright and not really, to be honest. I’ve been getting finished with university stuff and a lot of baking- like most people.
What made you run for this role?
I think it’s probably been in the back of my mind since the end of my first year. When I was on my placement year in my third year I realised that wasn’t the kind of work that I wanted to do- I want to work somewhere where you can make I change rather than being corporate. I thought that being an FTO would be a really good way to try and achieve that. My brother goes to Lancaster as well and he didn’t get involved in anything in his first year. He didn’t enjoy it as much and I was like the university is about everyone you meet and the societies or the teams. When he joined one in second year he saw that I was right and I realised that I’d like to try and push that message through to everyone that societies are really important- there’s more to university than your course.
For people who don’t know as it is a new role, what does your role involve?
It includes all societies and student media groups. So my role is facilitating those groups and being their voice to bridge the gap between staff and students for the societies.
What are your main aims going into the new year?
I think particularly for student media I want to increase training whether that be physical training in terms of our equipment handling but also team building. We’ll try to structure it in the same sort of way that JCR’s get and in societies just trying to increase engagement with social media. I will try to use the central SU communications to try and talk about all the different groups that we have- in short just basically increasing engagement and awareness of all the different groups we have.
In your manifesto you mention increasing the visibility of the different societies and the union- how are you going to do this?
In terms of visibility, I will use the central SU communication platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the general ones but also use the SU calendar on the website- I’ll make that a key focus point. If we can get all groups to put their events on there it will be a place students can always come to see if there are new events.
Have you got any ideas about publicity for the Black History Month?
Max, the BAME Officer, and I were talking the other day. Obviously, because of Covid it’s going to be a little different but we’re definitely going to try to talk to societies and see what we can do. It’s looking good and he’s very excited about it!
How are you going to try to get exec members of societies and student media groups the training that JCR’s get? Is this something that you are working on with anyone else?
Yes, we are currently working on getting some social media training which is a good first step. I’ve been working with who we have in the office as well to see if there are any staff members who can facilitate that training. Then again with Covid things are obviously a little up in the air but it’s just having those conversations and seeing what we can do. The training may end up being later on in the year because we obviously can’t be face to face for a while.
As this is a new role it is difficult to see how Covid is going to impact many of your plans or not?
I think it probably will. One thing that I wanted to do from the get-go was a campaign called ‘Get Active’, I hadn’t properly branded it yet but the campaign was to increase student engagement and encourage students to get active. This would increase their physical and mental health. I was planning to start that in Freshers Week to run the whole way through the year although that is obviously not going to happen now because we don’t know what societies and student groups are going to be able to do, especially first term. So that’s going to be on the back burner for a while. Getting students engaged is also going to be hard when they can’t physically go and dance or take part in other group activities. So it’s going to be difficult but it’s interesting just trying to find new ways to get people engaged.
In the upcoming Constitutional Convention is there anything that you are hoping to change?
Personally, there isn’t anything but when I was running I said that it’s what the students want so if there is anything I can do to help, if people come to talk to me about it, I will try to push that through because that’s what the student voice wants.
In the recent Presidential election, the RON campaign was controversially disqualified. What do you think about this?
It is complicated and I understand why everyone got riled up about it but I wasn’t in the position at that point so I have no idea about what was going on.
What are you looking forward to doing when you get back to university?
Gosh, I mean I’d love a GoButtito if I’m not gonna lie. I’m just really excited to get back to the office and get stuck into the job. It’s a lot easier when you get to see people and have those interactions with students and going around and seeing everyone and all the different groups. That’s the reason why I ran for the role, just to engage with all the students so I can’t wait for that to actually happen!
What have you missed most about the city of Lancaster?
Genuinely, it’s just really pretty. Even when it’s raining there are still really nice buildings and I love the canal. I’ve missed walking down the canal.
My last question, which do you prefer: Sultans or Ketcap?
Ooh, I’ve actually never been to Ketcap so I’m going to have to say Sultans. Maybe I should give Ketcap a go.
Thank you very much for answering my questions it’s been lovely talking to you!
Thank you, it’s been lovely to talk to you too!