Voice

Josh Stevens - President Candidate

Click here for Josh's social media page.

Manifesto

Who is Josh Stevens?

As I approach the end of my physics degree I know that I have more to give to this remarkable town. I am an experienced public speaker and negotiator that is ready to give my all in defence of our students and education.

I have a wealth of experience within the structure of the the Association, working as Marketing Officer for the Saints LGBT+ and the Treasurer of the Comedy Society. I have seen how our societies work together to bring about change and success, and how closely they interact with the sabbaticals. Even recently, I have assisted with the work to pass new hate crime motions through the joint councils, and I know how close an eye for detail is required.

I have built the past year of my life to contributing to the continued success of the union, working with students and staff alike. I am a lower-income student who needs to work a job to live here, but I have not let that stop me from pushing myself to a high level of respect within my societies and subcommittees. I am driven to fight for the best for our students, ensuring that background and demographics will never be a barrier to entry.

I will not let our students continue to be disregarded in matters of money or policy and I will fight for your right to study and succeed in life.

Accommodation

St Andrews is currently subject to a rising cost of living, which threatens to drive away brilliant talent from our University.

  1. I will campaign for clear and transparent communications between the university, Residential & Business Services (RBS) and students on its accommodation strategy.

  2. I will lobby to stop any further increase in accommodation costs whilst the average student loan stays stagnant.

  3. I will work with the incoming SRC Accommodation Officer and Committee to ensure all changes to university accommodation benefit the students.

The introduction of the restriction on new HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) licenses by the local council, against the opinions of our students, has soured town and gown relations.

  1. I will prioritise ending this restriction on new HMO licenses.

  2. I will continue the work of the association to collect evidence on the harmful

    effect of these policies on students.

  3. I will ensure that the local council communicates with the union with regards

    to future developments to keep students in mind.

Our students often suffer through the process to find private accommodation. This rushed and stressful fight for places has a negative effect on our students. In this regard:

7. I will endeavour to lead dialogue with estate agents to change away from first-come, first-served systems, to make the application process fairer and calmer.

Sabbatical Collaboration

The political atmosphere in the UK and Scotland is changing, with the possibilities of Brexit and a second Scottish independence referendum putting the status of our students in flux.

In order to have a strong impact we must be able to work together with other student spheres effectively, particularly as we sit external to the National Union of Students (NUS) and NUS Scotland:

  1. I will work to ensure that we are communicating with other Scottish students’ unions, the NUS, and NUS Scotland such that we may work towards common goals.

  2. I will set up a dedicated forum with non-NUS members, such as the unions of the University of Glasgow and the University of Dundee, so we can make sure our voices are still being heard.

  3. I will make sure that we lobby national governments for assurances of our rights as students, such that current students are not adversely affected by changes in government.

Demographics and Access

As workplaces increasingly require some form of degree, it is the duty of universities to make sure they are accessible to everybody.

  1. I will ensure that University outreach is clear that it is an equal opportunity institution, with a focus on what we can provide for those with specific requirements.

  2. I will make sure that our union and university have routes for feedback from students as to what needs to be improved.

  3. I will work with the DoED to encourage integration of our alumni network, Saints Connect, into our degrees to increase alumni collaboration and to create more opportunities for networking and future career success.

Widening access and removing barriers to entry here requires us to be outwardly accessible:

  1. I will work with the DoWell, DoED and Athletic Union President to ensure that students with physical disabilities have the facilities they need, and make these provisions public.

  2. I will ensure that the way in which the ASC and Student Services work are fully publicised, so that prospective and current students are comfortable to contact them.

  3. I want to ensure that our undergraduate recruitment processes are targeting all regions equally.

  4. I want to work closely with our Student Representative Council (SRC) officers to ensure we are encouraging recruitment for groups traditionally underrepresented by the university system, including black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals, LGBT+ individuals, mature students, and women.

Financial Support

A changing economy and worries about money can cause a lot of concern for students, even putting off individuals from a lower-income background from enrolling at all.

A lack of communication with students leads many to feel like the university is not acting in the interest of its financially disadvantaged students:

  1. I want to make the grants and bursaries system more ?visible a? nd encourage more students to apply for funding.

  2. I will lobby the university to be more transparent with its finances, particularly with how much it spends on accommodation.

a. Specifically, I will campaign for the university to publish financial statements which are clear and accessible to students.

3. I will lobby the university to increase the amount of money it puts into its financial support schemes for those who need it.

There is often pushback against calls to make events and services more affordable. It is not commonly understood how the compounding of many small payments can cause significant problems for lower-income students and how this leads to a significant problem for community cohesion.

  1. I will lobby the university to strengthen its financial advice services, and consider the side effects that being forced to work a part time job can have on ability to get involved with the community and succeed in education.

  2. I will work with the Athletic Union President to decrease access fees for the sports and fitness facilities for our students, such that financial status is never a barrier to entry for physical health.

  3. I will work with the DoED to decrease the cost of study materials, such as books or laboratory equipment, or seek avenues of reimbursement.

Activism and Campaigning

Universities are famous for being a hotbed of activism and forward thinking, and St Andrews could benefit from a bigger platform for student campaigning.

The ability of a university to foster campaigns is only as good as its ability to champion the rights of individuals and groups:

1. I want to increase the publicity and accessibility of the meetings of our student councils so every student can easily engage.

A big part of student engagement with our university and union is ensuring that our students are well informed. A student community that is well informed is able to hold its elected officers to account and make sure they are being representative.

  1. I want to add a full report of our actions to the current weekly emails and encourage our student press to scrutinise our work.

    1. These will focus on more detailed overviews of the sabbaticals’ work than the current system provides.

    2. I will ensure these are available digitally and prominently on our social media, such that smaller publications who cannot physically send members to councils can be kept informed.

  2. I want to ensure regular dialogue with the University and set public, measurable goals to improve accountability for all parties.

In regards to the environment, it is important for the President to use their platform to support these Green policies.

  1. I want to lobby the council to introduce regular glass recycling collections, or integrate them into a joint recycling collection with cans and plastics, like many councils in the UK.

  2. I want to ensure that our university affiliated buildings are working to reduce single-use waste.

  3. Single-use plastics can also be a big part of the experimental sciences, so I will encourage the university to look at environmentally-friendly suppliers of their materials which are biodegradable, following suitable decontamination processes. 

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