Manifesto - Dominic Nolan
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Real Experience. Real Change.
Change is needed. As someone who has never held an Association position I will bring in fresh ideas and focus on issues such as housing, town and gown relations, the environment, widening access and our alumni. From my outsider perspective, I believe that I can see ways in which the Association can use reform to make it more accountable, environmentally-friendly and representative of us students all year round, not just at election time. I may not have sat in SRC/SSC meetings but I have real experience in making decisions for the benefit of our town as a local councillor. Housing is one of the most important issues facing students. I believe that my experience from considering all new HMO applications for the town and through approving planning permission for the new Powell and Whitehorn halls has given me a great insight and ability to tackle the housing crisis. By making the Association more accountable, green and transparent I will bring forward real change.
The Students’ Association must be accountable all year round to ensure that the students’ voice is properly heard.
To do this, I will:
1. Introduce recall elections for all association positions
If students feel that any elected official is not performing their job properly they can get the opportunity to remove them by:
- Getting 15% of all matriculated students to sign a petition to the Association Board calling for their removal.
- The Board then must consider the petition and may set a recall election by a simple majority vote.
- The recall election will have Yes/No options for the person’s removal.
- Should they be removed a new election will be run to find a replacement
This will ensure that our elected representatives must work to represent us all year round.
2. Create an official online petition portal for students to submit to the SRC, SSC, Board or Joint Councils
The petition portal will be an online mechanism to gather students’ signatures and verify matriculation numbers. Anyone will be able to establish their own petition which will be advertised to all students in the weekly sabbatical email. Petitions on websites such as Change.org are not effectively advertised to all students and do not gather students’ matriculation numbers and so considerable time is taken to verify signatures: this portal will be exclusively for St Andrews students to ensure easy verification. All petitions will be presented to the relevant committee and those which collect 15% of matriculated students will require a vote and formal response.
3. Live-stream all SRC, SSC and Joint Councils meetings
The Saint described the live-streaming of the recent Joint Councils meeting regarding staff strikes as ‘unprecedented.’ I fully support this move and would see live-streaming take place from now on to ensure that the Students’ Association is transparent.
4. Attach all minutes of SRC, SSC, Board and Joint Councils meetings to the weekly sabbatical email
This will increase transparency and prevent students from having to hunt for minutes.
The Students’ Association is one of the most important institutions we have. If we want to see real change in our lives at University then we have to be confident that the Association is accountable all year round and transparent. Otherwise, it risks becoming an echo chamber and we cannot be confident that it will truly be able to bring about the change we want to see.
In St Andrews, we are lucky to have some of the most scenic beaches in the world. I have experience defending our beaches and local wildlife by being a member of the Sands Partnership and Eden Estuary Local Nature Reserve Advisory Group. The Student’s Association must play its part in protecting our beaches, our wildlife and our planet.
Plastic is one of the most damaging materials to our oceans. We must do all we can to lower our usage of single-use plastic. That is why as Student Association President, I would advocate a ban of plastic straws in the union. I would also encourage our suppliers to use biodegradable plastic on products in which the plastic used is single-use.
We can often attempt to reach out to our alumni and ask ourselves what we should be doing to get them involved with the University again. I think a better way to foster alumni engagement would be to speak to our current matriculated students and make clear to them the options they have to remain involved once they graduate.
I would encourage University societies to create an end of year ‘Leavers’ Form’ which would ask their graduating members to leave their contact details as well as some information about where they are going once they leave St Andrews. This could also be done semesterly for the benefit of JSAs. With this form societies can keep in touch as well as know what field their members go on to work in which could be beneficial to current members seeking advice on employment and internships. If graduated members have a regular contact with their old societies they could also discuss the merits of establishing society alumni clubs. Like University societies, alumni clubs can have very niche scope so there is no reason why we could not have new alumni clubs for our societies.
We all know that St Andrews has a bit of a reputation for being elitist and out of touch. This is not just anecdotal though as we have the lowest level of state-schooled students in the UK behind only Oxford. This can be off-putting for people applying to University.
I would continue the Association’s work in supporting outreach and the ambassadors programmes. I would encourage these programmes to go further in their scope throughout Fife and the rest of Scotland, particularly in nearby places like Dundee. I would also back increased outreach to our colleges to try and attract applicants who take an alternative route to University than applying out of high school.
I will explore whether funding can be made available to subsidise the travel expenses of high-schoolers from disadvantaged backgrounds in Scotland to open days. This will give more students the possibility of visiting our University but show them not only that they are welcome in St Andrews but that we are actively seeking them.
Housing is an ever-present problem in St Andrews. I am aware that Presidents can’t promise to build new halls or set what the price of their rooms will be. What I would be able to do however is lobby for greater diversity of room types in any future halls: the new hall rooms are too expensive and would be cheaper if there weren’t so many single ensuite rooms.
I think I am best placed to fight for housing in this town, thanks to my real experience with planning permission and HMOs. I have granted planning permission for alterations to the external ducting on the union and have also granted planning permission for the new Powell and Whitehorn halls. I am also on the committee which considers all new HMO applications and from this I have seen first-hand how the town centre HMO ban has warped the housing supply and worsened town and gown relations.
I will vote to repeal this ban when it comes before Fife Council in the next few months. Ending this ban will free up empty rooms that students want to fill and lower rents by being able to divide costs between more tenants.
Town and Gown Relations
It is currently my job to represent both town and gown. I attend the monthly St Andrews Community Council meetings alongside the Association President and the Community Relations Officer and see the relationship that the Students’ Association has with the community. Too often I hear from people on important issues affecting our town, most notably the HMO ban, that it is a matter of students versus residents. I have always completely rejected this idea. The University and student population give so much to this town and we should not descend into immigration-esque arguments about the town being ‘taken over’ by students.
I have done my best to champion town and gown relations in my time as a town councillor and believe I am best placed to do so as President. The HMO ban is a clear example of policy being set to discriminate against the student population. No policy should ever be written to target a specific group.
If you vote for me I promise to further heal tensions in the town and demonstrate what we have to offer. Our relations must be Town & Gown, not Town v. Gown.
I have a bold and ambitious plan for our Student’s Association but only with real change can our Association be effective at doing its main job: standing up for your voice. As your local town councillor, I have championed pro-environment policies, town and gown relations, and affordable housing. As Association President, I would use my real experience to advocate a greener, more transparent and more accountable union. But, crucially, it is also my job to listen to the concerns of all students and that is why it is only right that the correct mechanisms are in place to ensure I listen to your concerns all year round rather than just at election time. St Andrews needs a breath of fresh air and my plans for housing, alumni relations, the environment and accountability will bring the change we seek.
Let’s vote for Real Change, Real Experience!