Student Officer Elections- Meet the Candidates: Scott Johnston

Scott is a Law student who worked on Ananda Mohan’s campaign last year. He is campaigning to become Student Officer in the hopes of creating ‘a guild that reflects the students’. This is clear in policies such as encouraging a ‘cultural fusion’ to celebrate UoL’s diversity as well as implementing permanent LGBT+ and Feminist officers in the Guild. He also would like to introduce an anonymous complaints and suggestions box and work towards subsidised textbooks.

How would you change the Guild, if elected?

I would change it in a number of ways. My manifesto is centred around the issue of mental health because although we have a really good mental health service, we need to improve it in quite a few ways. We need to improve student engagement with it as well as improving it as a service.  Mental health is central to my manifesto because it is a really important aspect of university life. If we can tackle mental health as an issue, we can get on with being a student- specifically, our academic lives and our social lives. This can be achieved by better drop in times for example. Mental health is not just a stop-gap between students and the NHS. With regards to other issues, Guild accountability: a really catch all term. Effectively, it concerns students’ interaction with the university and students’ interaction with the Guild. If elected, I would elect a women’s officer/feminist officer since so many people are not represented. An example being the pro-life debacle. This would have been tackled a lot better and reflected on the parties involved if there was a liaison officer. I would also want an LGBT+ officer as these issues impact minority groups and are not represented. They find out about issues after the facts are revealed! Instead, the issues should be brought to the front straight away and dealt openly, professionally and quickly. For me, it is not about being elected, it’s about engaging with students which is why I propose the idea of surgeries because it is about asking questions. Turnout previously has been ‘pathetically low’ so there is a need for getting people interested.

What was your favourite Guild campaign of the past?

Most definitely, it was Ananda’s (Mohan) last year who I assisted. It was the way in which he engaged with issues because he truly cared and had never seen someone with more heart and soul than Ananda. I do not have a manifesto similar to his but I do have a similar ethic which I hope to emulate.

What was your least favourite Guild campaign?

Last year the campaigns were pretty good but Mike Edwards comes to mind. He campaigned on his name because his name sounded like Nike and referred to himself as Nike Edwards. It was a shame because people did vote because of a Nike tick which for me was gimmicky. Many of the candidates campaigned on ‘real’ issues so when you see someone campaign on their name, it poses the question of why participate. His manifesto actually contained good issues but it was a shame since he campaigned on his name, not his issues.

What have your experiences been like at university?

Amazing! It has been the best 2-and-a-half years of my life which is why I do not want to leave. There has been so many opportunities and have learned so much information. I have loved every single minute as a Law student. The Guild is amazing despite moments where I’ve disagreed. I am running because I want to change the university for the better.

What’s more important, facts or feelings?

Well, it depends on the question being asked. Is it students feel or what are students doing? For example, if no one is turning up to lectures then we need to find out why they are not turning up to lectures. If a particular lecturer is boring or non-engaging, then it is facts. This lecturer is doing this and we need to change it. If it is why students are not turning up because they feel apathetic to their course or the university, then it is feelings. I’m sorry to cop-out this answer but it’s about what students feel if they are feeling a particular way towards their education but if it’s a fact that’s causing their university education to be affected in that way, then its fact.  We need to approach whatever the issue is in the most pragmatic way as possible.

Sum up your campaign in three words.

This is a really tough question. Real Student Issues. That’s what we are campaigning on, some have really interesting issues but most are doing it because we care about the issues. Most of us want to engage with the issues and change the issues and influence university to act on those issues. So I’m saying that’s what would sum mine up- cheaper textbooks, Guild accountability, mental health. They are real student issues which we need to change, influence and impact.

Thanks, Scott.

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