Interview with Tom Cross: Education Officer Candidate – Elections 2024 


Caitlyn Taft (she/her) from SCAN interviewed Tom Cross (they/them) on why they are running for Education Officer for the Students’ Union.

Tom is the current LGBTQ+ Forum Officer. They are a 3rd year History and Politics student from Lonsdale College.

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about the current system they have in place right now and how you would change it to make sure that reps are not “being left to get on with it”?

In their manifesto, they stated that they have previously been an academic rep. A main point of their manifesto is about creating a better system for academic reps. Students who are not familiar with the academic rep system may not know how it is run.

I asked Tom to tell me a bit about the current system that is in place. They underlined three main issues with the current academic rep system.

“One of the main issues with the system is that 4 faculty forms take place on one night. There’s typically 4 groups of reps with maybe 100 [academic reps] each. This means the VP Education has to run around and try to talk to every single one. It’s impossible. I think there should be 2 or 1 groups to make sure that academic reps are being heard.”

They continued, discussing another issue about the system:

“The training that academic reps get is not specific. It needs to be more technical. They need to be taught how to bargain with their departments and how to work as a team within their groups.”

“Most importantly, academic reps get no recognition for their work. Other student volunteers, like JCRs, get award nights and recognition. I want there to be more recognition for the amount of work they put in. I want there to be a rep award night so we can congratulate them and uplift them.”

  1.  What are some of the well publicised guidelines you have in mind for combating the issue on AI?

AI has been a constant issue in universities as many students have been caught plagiarising. Whilst other students use AI softwares for good (i.e. structuring or planning out their thoughts for an essay). Tom’s manifesto outlines the potential for publicised guidelines for combating the issue.

“The library recently provided a prototype on AI. I went to it and it was really insightful. We could use AI to our advantage. AI should be used for research and structure, critical thinking should not be involved. We need to go to experts who know more about this and have guidelines that state the different types of AI, the advantages and disadvantages of it. We should treat AI in the same way we treat Wikipedia academically. We shouldn’t use it to write our essays but to provide us with information that will help improve our learning.”

  1. What do you intend to do about Postgraduates in regards to educational funding, treatment and opportunities?

Postgraduate students may often feel out of place at Lancaster, as a lot of educational opportunities mostly cater towards undergraduate students. Tom discussed this issue with me, stating that:

“I want to run campaigns for postgraduate students. I want to work with other unions and institutes to promote better education conditions for post-grad students. To do this, I would consult with the post-graduate Liberation and Campaign Officer (LCO) to ensure that post-graduate students do not feel left out academically.”

  1. In regards to the cost of living crisis, what “support funding” do you plan to push the university to invest in? 

Tom highlights the current cost of living crisis that students are facing. In their manifesto, they suggest more support funding. I questioned them about what that would entail.

“Cost of living affects every aspect of students, especially their education. If students can’t eat, they can’t study. It’s important that we keep funding LUSU Pantry and Supper Club. The campus prices need to stop inflating. Ideally I would be working with the council, the [Students’] Union and Stagecoach to keep prices low.”

  1. You mention that “timetabling [if] done smarter [can] prevent massive gaps” in students’ timetables which would help with accessible learning. How do you envision the University taking this on, especially regarding the current issues with the Timetabling policy (i.e. Wednesday Afternoons)? 

Tom mentioned a lot of the issues surrounding accessibility in education.

“From this, we need to separate disabled students to allow the university to cater to their ILSP. I want to get lectures recorded. A lot of people’s accessibility requirements are that lectures are filmed and there are subtitles. I want to ensure that is happening across the board. Having 9-5 days allows for more accessibility in the timetables.”

  1. As you are currently the LGBTQ+ Forum Officer, how do you think your role has played into the creation of your manifesto and your beliefs that sparked you running for Education Officer? You have a point on doing campaigns about transphobia and bigotry in Education, can you tell me more about that as well? 

Tom told about their time in the forum but also about their time as an academic rep.

“I was interested in education before going for LGBTQ+ Forum Officer. But my role as LGBTQ+ Forum Officer is a student focus role. I’ve been speaking to students and I see the sheer amount of anger students have right now. I want to continue to fight for trans rights and minorities’ inclusivity.”

  1. I have heard that some students are granted extensions without any evidence, whilst others have to provide a lot of evidence they might not have (i.e. death certificate, sick note, etc), how do you envision an extension that is easier to navigate? 

Tom underlined that they want to standardise the extensions and make it the same throughout each department.

“I want to make it standard throughout. Giving students the extensions that they need is so important for their education and their wellbeing. If a reason is needed, it should be given but shouldn’t be explicit.”

To vote for Tom Cross, you can head over to the LUSU website.

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