Interview with 2019/2020 President: Andrew Wilson

Tell us about yourself.

I’m from Blackpool originally. I am a second year English Language and Linguistics student. Not politics as many people seem to think I do! First year I stayed in Kincaids and I had a flat with 12 different people which was honestly great. There was so many international students, I can now say I have friends all over the world. 

What made you want to run for President?

I had been involved with the Student’s Association as a Office Bearer for the Labour Students Society, or I was always at Student Council kicking off about something. I have known a lot of people who have been Sabbatical Officers in the past, and they had recomupmended that it was such a great opportunity. I had a vision, and I know what I’m passionate about so I put myself forward. Part of it came from frustrations of how the Student’s Association has functioned in the past. It was born out of enthusiasm but also frustration and determination to make a change! 

Have you always been politically involved? Where did this start? 

There is a distinction to be made between politics and student politics. Student politics is this microcosm of people fighting for student issues – which I am also passionate about. But for general politics, I think it’s so important to be politically aware in today’s environment. Being interested in my own party has also spurred my interest forward. 

How do you feel about the win? How was campaigning? 

At the end of Thursday when voting closed, I felt like I had done anything I could have done. I was so happy with how everything came out. Campaigning was honestly one of the most stressful weeks of my life, though. There is something to be said that whilst campaign week is difficult, there is so much preparation that goes into it beforehand. At the end, I was just so glad I did that and I feel so proud and grateful. I am so happy students have embraced my ideas and vision. 

What kind of preparation? 

I needed to prepare graphics, making posters, my manifesto, and my vision. For me, I wanted to meet with loads of people to understand what their experiences were like at university and chatting to everyone about the Students’ Association. It helped me form what I wanted to do with my campaign and make sure it wasn’t isolated. 

You’ve mentioned you don’t like the way the Students’ Association has done things in the past. Any examples?

Brexit is an example. It is one of the most alarming situations to be in for so many of our students. The entrance of post and undergraduate students entering the university from the EU has decreased by 9%. This is all very real things to be aware of, but also worried about. It is so pressing – but for me, I didn’t see the Students’ Association prioritising this. Brexit will impact all of us, and yet there’s nothing being directly said. 

Mandatory Interruption of Studies is also such an important issues. Thankfully Kai and Diva have led this so well. Also the guarantor scheme – there’s only 100 places, and we have over 44,000 students. That is ridiculous and how long can we let this go on? 

What is the gist of your manifesto? 

The overarching theme of my manifesto is creating a Students’ Association that makes sense. One that holds the university accountable. One that is practical and positively impacts the experiences of all students. I want to be able to make a real difference to individual lives. Creating a Students’ Association that creates change, but also one that all students want to be part of and want to be engaged in. We can do this by showing we represent everyone and shifting the narrative. 

This can be seen through me wanting to introduce drug testing kits – it’s something so simple, and so important. It’s not about promoting drug use, it’s about promoting safe drug use. 

How is engagement with the Students’ Association? 

There are so many amazing things the sabbs have done this year. So many amazing flagship policies, such as the Participatory Grant for International Students by Eleri, or the Sexual Harassment Campaign. These have all worked to further involve students. However, I understand the engagement is so dependent in what else is going on in student’s lives. I’m excited to work so irregardless of this, we can continue making policies and involved everyone. 

 

Image: Andrew Perry

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