Interview with 2019/2020 VP Welfare: Oona Lilly Miller

How are you feeling now that you’ve been elected VP Welfare?

At first I was really relieved but now, I’m actually really excited, I keep getting really distracted from the final five weeks of university.

What was the week like?

I obviously had put quite a lot on the line to spend that much time doing campaigning.

Also a lot of people had devoted a lot of time and energy to me and shown quite a lot of love. You want to feel like you have got the best out of yourself and also the best out of your team.

I mean I was also really sad as I usually call my parents every day and I didn’t have time to call them. Though I knew what I was letting myself in for it was still incredibly emotionally disruptive. I only cried one time so that was major props to me.

When did you decide ro run?

 I had people asking me in first and second year whether I would run, and then last year I was involved with Georgie’s campaign, but there were a lot of internal barriers within myself.  However I started questioning why I thought I did not want to do it and why I was telling myself that I was not worthy of a leadership position or why I was telling myself that I was not equipped to deal with the wide breadth of student issues.

Then when my sister Nina said she wasn’t going to apply here, there was just this feeling of utter dejection that whatever happened, the person who I care about most in the world wouldn’t be able to have the same experiences as I did.  So me applying  was a culmination of all of the above, that I had been mulling over for a really long time.

How do you want to bring that desire to the Students’ Association? 

Well the turnout is appallingly low, but people voting isn’t the only way people can be represented.

The open letter that was signed for the support for study policy – which recieved an unprecedented number of contributions compared to average student engagement – shows that people really care about this sort of stuff and genuinely see their relationship to it.

Are you going to make the Students’ Association more rebellious, or politically active?

I think if students want to be rebellious or active then thats their prerogative, and when its useful then the Students’ Association can be used as a resource to help them do this. In terms of making the campus more engaged, this doesn’t have to be protests or occupations, that’s a very specific type of activism, instead I want to try and enforce students, staff, the university, and the Students’ Association to be collectively involved in a single dialogue.

The Students’ Association is not just about empowering students to protest, which is useful but which fundamentally suggests that the system is always going to be wrong and can never do good, and like you’re going to tell them very aggressively and explicitly how to do it, which is not necessarily always the way. 

What role does the media play in engaging with the Students’ Association? 

I feel like if you’re engaged in any kind of media you believe that you have a responsibility to report in some way. If you’re involved in media there’s a responsibility there to inform people of something. I sometimes like to think of the Students’ Association as a trade union for students, representing student voices to the university and making those voices heard in a more powerful way. There is not doubt the Students’ Association is completely political and should be political. So, I think the media has a responsibility to engage with the organisation and to hold it to account to ask questions. Giving people leeway when that’s relevant, just responsible reporting. Also, engaging in a really constructive way, you’re like “what is it you’re trying to do,” and really try to get that message across.

Do you think people are confusing their dislike for the Students’ Association with their dislike for the university?

Yes, 100 per cent. Constantly. I think people think that the Students’ Association is a prop of the university’s administration. It’s not. Then the university claims the Students’ Association’s successes as their own.

 

Image: Andrew Perry

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