Student Officer Elections- Meet the Candidates: Oba Akinwale
Oba is the current Guild Deputy President and is running for re-election. His manifesto is focused on continuing the improvements he has made, including increasing the financial autonomy of clubs and societies with SponsorAll, diversifying Guild events and increasing accredited volunteer opportunities. He would also like to make Wednesday afternoons free time for all students.
How would you change the Guild, if elected?
I’d – obviously that’s a bit more of a difficult question, coming from being in the Guild, but the changes I wanted to make from first year still stand because it’s… it’s a long process, what I’m trying to do. Obviously last year I ran on a manifesto of social inclusion, trying to have more inclusionary events and a bigger variety of events. We’ve done that this year – we’ve got a bigger variety, we’ve got more outside-the-box events, but it’s still about taking that step forward, adding more active events is something I promised this time around that I wasn’t able to do this year. And obviously some of my specific promises from this year-SponsorAll Is a massive change I’m trying to push for in the Guild, and in my eyes when that comes to fruition it’ll completely change the autonomy and the way that clubs and societies look at finance because, just by doing the same socials and going to similar places and interacting more with the Guild facilities they’ll be able to make thousands in reality, so that’s a massive change which I think will have a really long-lasting impact.
What’s your favourite Guild campaign of the past?
Oh – can I be really awful and name one of my own campaigns? No, I’ll name one of my own campaigns just because it’s my favourite because it’s personal to me, in the sense that this year – Rainbow Laces, I saw it last year, and it’s a really great thing that Rosie O’Donnell did in collaboration with the Athletic Union. From being in a sports team, seeing the Guild and AU work together is obviously a really big thing for me, and that’s why I ran for this position. So getting the chance to do Rainbow Laces this year was a massive thing, getting to interact with all the students from my position in the Guild and taking on such a big topic as homophobia and transphobia in sport, getting to feel like we’re making a tangible impact is the biggest thing – the biggest thing about this as a policy, as a campaign for me is the fact that that off the back of it, we’re working with Sport Liverpool to create a Sport For Policy, I’m a big believer in the fact that this campaign can be super visual, people can write the pictures can like the pretty laces – but if there’s nothing at the end of it, we could be doing the same thing year on year without actually making a change, so actually developing a Sport For Policy is the reason why this is my favourite campaign and one that I’m really proud to have been involved with.
What’s your least favourite Guild campaign?
Well… I’ll just address the elephant in the room because I’ll probably have to at some point… so I’m gonna answer this is a bit of a different way, and you’re probably going to criticise me for not answering it directly, but I think it’s a good opportunity to point out that campaigns can be a bit more nuanced than that, so… I hope all students reading this will know about the NSS Boycott Campaign, which is, I’d say the biggest campaign the Guild has run, definitely in my memory and possibly in the history of the Guild. Genuinely, it’s that kind of scale. And at the start, I was the voice against running the NSS Boycott Campaign, for reasons that you can find on the Guild website, and the reason I’m answering the question in this way, I’m trying to show the nuance in it… once we’d then been mandated to go out and do this by the Preferendum result, um… telling us to boycott the NSS that changes the way you see it as a student officer. And now, because we’re still running the campaign, and I remember at the time – you’ve just got to leave it at the door, all the reasons you didn’t want to do it, when it becomes your job to go out and do it and make it and successful as possible. One thing I can say absolutely honestly is that I’ve loved every minute of doing this boycott campaign, when that definitely wasn’t the case a couple of months ago, when we were doing the Preferendum. And obviously I’ll love it even more when hopefully we’re successful with the outcome, come the end of March.
What has your experience of university been like?
Oh… it’s been a long experience… [laughs] I’ve always said the best decision I’ve made was coming to Liverpool – that’s half the city, half this incredible university. I think a lot of the time – so I came from quite a hand-holding school, so I struggled a bit with having a course where I only had 8 hours of contact time and the rest was individual study… I saw individual study as either drinking time or a lie-in, kind of thing… so, I think taking those experiences, and making sure the university is there for different types of students is a big thing… if I could go back and do it again 100 per cent, I’d do certain things differently, but not that many things… [laughs] to be honest. It’s been absolutely incredible.
What’s more important – facts or feelings? I think we asked this last year.
Ah, you did ask this last year, and I’m so scared that I’m going to say something different… uh… I don’t want to sit on the fence and make up some answer as to how they’re both important, I want to try to… I’d say facts, and I’m scared now that I said feelings a year ago. But you kind of realise, especially in this position, that you need to back up what you’re saying. My dad always said that there’s lies, damn lies in statistics, but if you’ve got facts and you use them in the right way, they’re the most empowering thing, in a lot of senses. Feelings can help you in terms of choosing a direction to go in, but, in terms of getting other people on board I find facts are the be-all-and-end-all.
Finally, can you sum up your campaign in three words?
Expand your opportunities.