Photo: Left: Robin Drummond; Right: Josef Budde
The race to determine the 2016/17 president of the Edinburgh University Sports Union (SU) executive committee entered its final stretch Thursday, as two insiders with extensive experience on the committee vied for the head position.
Fourth years Josef Budde and Robin Drummond, the current vice president and sponsorship officer respectively, are contending for the presidential position, a year-long paid position involving the daily operations of the organisation’s management of 64 sports clubs and 8,000 members.
The position would involve overseeing the executive committee, elected at the end of the week at the Annual General Meeting, and serving as the public figurehead for the organisation. Voting is open for the whole student body on MyEd and will close Thursday at noon.
In entering the election, both candidates carry considerable experience. The two have had extensive involvement within the SU, with each serving two years on the executive committee and holding committee positions within their various clubs. Budde served as SU secretary from 2015-2015, and has had positions on the Swimming Club committee the past three years. Drummond was the SU’s Sponsorship Officer this year, and helped found and develop an Intramural team that swelled in membership and influence over several years.
The themes in their manifestos appear to reflect that expertise. Both candidates have prioritised transparency as a necessity for the Sports Union, listing it at the top of their manifesto goals. But they differ in the policies they would implement to address it.
Budde has centred on improving outreach to individual athletes, by compiling new guides for novices getting started and experienced athletes looking to optimise their performance. He additionally would add self-assessment procedures for individual clubs on their Club Scores—the evaluation mechanisms by which the SU assesses and holds accountable its clubs—allowing the clubs to have a greater say in their yearly appraisal.
“One of the main issues is clubs not knowing who to talk to in the Union, or what resources are available,” Budde told The Student. “Which is why one of my things is a committee handbook: if we’re able to guide from day one that these are the resources available to you, we’ll help improve club experience and student experience overall.”
Drummond’s transparency policies lean more toward direct engagement with clubs. He would allow clubs a vote on Union policy changes, and would establish regular monthly meetings with an executive SU member for each club to speak directly.
“It’s not just about knowing what’s going on. It’s about clubs having the right to vote on policy,” Drummond explained. “Which is why in my manifesto, the key policy is clubs voting at GMs on SU policy.”
On other manifesto goals, the two have diverged further. Drummond has charted policies aimed at improving the SU’s ties to factions on campus, such as liberation groups. He would make an effort to expand the influence of the EdEx events, which aim to increase student engagement with existing sports clubs by offering one day taster sessions with various clubs.
Budde has looked outward, focusing on building ties with alumni networks in place for funding. He would additionally seek to expand athletic facilities on campus, capitalising on multi-million pound development plans already in place on Kings Buildings and increasing the Sports Union presence there.
Both candidates have highlighted mental health outreach as key, emphasising the Sports Union as a key potential source for physical therapy and stress-busting, and pledging to expand collaboration efforts with on-campus factions such as the Disability Service and Counselling Service.
“I believe sport is a practical way to help not only combat mental health but to support it,” Budde told The Student. “I think what we need to do as an SU is provide a better link to students.”
Drummond agreed, saying: “One of the things I want to work on around mental health is to work with the Counselling Service and the Disability Service. I’d love to ask them: How can sport help? How can the SU help?
“There are plenty of groups on campus that have the knowledge and the ideas of how to work on their specific areas better, and the Sports Union’s job now should be to work with those groups, both to and from, on how we can help every student at Edinburgh with sport as a key.”
The candidates also touted their records within the SU as qualifiers for their posts as president. Drummond pointed to his experience as Sponsorship Officer as giving him experience with working with clubs directly and understanding their financial needs.
“I’ve worked with the clubs to get what they want, and now I’m working with the Sponsor Bar to make that happen,” Drummond said. “And that is essentially what I believe the role of the president is: to present the views of the students and clubs, and to take that forward within the university and outside the university as well.”
Budde said his time working on the EdEx event had given him perspective on how to best implement outreach to the student body.
“Seeing people email back saying: ‘Hey I tried this event or I tried this’ or ‘I really enjoyed this; I joined the club’, I think that’s really made my experience and that’s definitely been a big motivating factor that I think as an SU we can change.”
As the voting got underway, current SU president Marina Sergeeva expressed her optimism at the choice of candidates and the issues they had raised.
“I think all the points that both candidates are putting are there are incredibly vital in terms of going forward, and definitely points that I would be looking into as well,” she told The Student.
She added: “I think there’s no better experience than to have been on committee than more than one year, and they’ve both done two, so I think they’re more than qualified.”
Voting for SU president closes on MyEd at 12pm Thursday. Results will be announced at the SU Annual General Meeting this afternoon.