Interviewee: Meg Robinson
Edited by: Holly Barr
Newly elected President for 2017/18 answered some questions for us…
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m rubbish at these kind of questions, but here goes. I am originally from a small town in Lincolnshire and moved to Leeds for uni in 2013 where I studied Psychology. I chose this because I wanted a profession in helping others, such as psychiatry or counselling. I became a course rep in my 2nd year at university and that’s where my passion for changing students’ lives was born. During my first term as course rep we faced many difficulties on our course, such as not having reading lists released until the beginning of the semester, meaning nobody could prepare ahead of time. I was able to liaise with the course leader to have this rectified which led to me having a good working relationship with my course leader and my lecturers, because I worked with them to solve problems and not against them. Later on in my term, there was a huge mess up with my exam which meant we were all given the wrong paper, I was able to work again with the department and arrange an uncapped resit for all students on an optional basis. It was these wins which made me realise I might be a good candidate for VP Education, so with a little bit of encouragement from some friends within the SU I ran for the role in 2016, won and started the role officially on 1st July 2016. During my term, the President had to go on leave and so I became Acting President in his absence and managed to achieve more than I ever thought possible. I knew I couldn’t give up on this role, with so many students supporting me and almost relying on me to run for president to help them, I ran for president, won, and now I’m here I guess.
2. Why do you feel that 9am lectures need to be cut?
We already have 9:30am exams, a pilot we introduced this year which worked incredibly well, hardly any students were late to the exams, it was easier on the examiners and staff monitoring the exams and overall was a great success. I think this would have the same effect on lectures and seminars, if they were moved back to 9:30 or 10am, then I think we would see an increase in attendance, decrease in lateness and a better student experience overall.
3. Uncapped exam resits is not something that most universities do so why should Leeds Beckett be different?
I think Leeds Beckett should be a university which does things first, it should be as progressive as the students it recruits each year. Yes, universities all over do this, but it doesn’t mean I think it’s right or make it right. Students pay £9,000 a year, which is set to rise, for a one chance at passing, and if they miss that boat they find themselves at uni for another year, and another £9,000 in debt. It’s not really fair on students, especially ones who haven’t come straight from college or school, so that’s why Leeds Beckett should be different, and pave the way for other universities to follow suit.
4. This is an assessment regulation that the university has to follow from the awarding body so how are you going the change this?
I would work with the universities executive team, namely the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic to work out a plan to change this. I also have a good working relationship with the universities Quality Assurance Services, who know the rules and regulations of the uni like the back of their hands, so I’m sure they could give me some direction on this too. I would also like to go the NUS about this and see if they have any plans to do this, or if any work has been done already.
5. The AU are already struggling with costs of keeping sports running. If the costs are cut how do you intend to help them on the money they could potentially lose?
I think before I can answer that I would need to find out just how much the AU is struggling to keep sports running. It was pledged on a manifesto for VP Activities (Bridey Chase) to make them more transparent and find out where their money is being spent, this is something that needs to be done before we can look into lowering the cost of anything, especially as some teams feel at a bigger disadvantage than other teams. I also know the university have some plans to improve the sports facilities, which makes me question how much they are struggling if the university has plans to invest. However, if after the research it comes out that the AU will lose money, I would speak to the university about this and see if they will offer any subsidiaries as I believe sport should be as accessible as possible.
6. They have been numerous of campaigns about the lights in Beckett Park. Is there anything different you plan to do to get them?
Kelly-Anne Watson, our VP Welfare & Community has been making every effort this year to get lights in the park, and now she has been re-elected she will spend the next year on it too, and I would like to help her on that. The council clearly aren’t listening to us, telling us time and time again we don’t need lights in the park, despite the recent chasing through the park and muggings. We have different plans to get them to listen, with the first being a demonstration, if this doesn’t work of course we have other ideas which haven’t been tried before, but I want to keep them quiet at this point as we need to plan them thoroughly.
7. For a sports team member, there is a consensus that the gym isn’t as good as it could be for a university that takes pride in sport based courses. How do you intend to make it better?
As a sports team member of two teams, I agree with this statement, there isn’t even air conditioning meaning on a hot day you can’t work out there as it makes you feel unwell due to the temperate. I would first speak to the university, and see what they can do, I know they have plans to renovate it all, but this is not a quick fix and the current students won’t see a difference, so speaking to the university first to see what we can work on together would be my first step.
8. Describe the approach you are going to take for this role.
I will be taking a similar approach to the one I took for VP Education and Acting President, however I would like to take the role more seriously and become more politically active within the role. This year I have had to juggle two jobs, which has been incredibly stressful and exhausting, meaning political objectives and plans I had fell by the wayside as I had to juggle my 3 objectives, and the 3 objectives by the president. I’m looking forward to being able to excel in the role with no setbacks (hopefully). I want to be a very relatable president, so going out and talking to students, solving problems that they face on a day-to-day basis will be high up on the priorities list.
9. How are you going to make a difference to the Students Union and University?
I have already made some difference in my current role at the benefit of students, I want to continue this by achieving my manifesto pledges. Each year we get to pick 3, and once they are completed we can pick more, for this year I want to do something different and go out and ask students which pledges on my manifesto they like the most, and prioritise those. There are some pledges which are operational, meaning I can meet with the staff about them and they don’t have to be an objective, and some can just be a campaign such as promoting the SU as a safe space. I feel like I was elected based on my manifesto, and the good work I have already done, these are obviously the things students care about and so I will try my best to achieve these.