Elections, News, Radio
SU Elections: LIVE Updates
Read the live updates of night 1 and 2 of the UWSU Election debates. You can also listen back to the debates at our listen again section.
There are a couple of thank yous being said from the stage. After 7 hours of debates over two nights at Regents, we are done!
Voting opens on Monday on UWSU.com, with Results Night next Thursday in the Loft, Harrow – and obviously Smoke will have you covered for that as well.
Naomi closes up by asking candidates to sum up why to vote for you?
Lareb – ‘Don’t be a pleb, vote for Lareb’ and she tells us to read over the manifesto which isn’t extravagant and is just ‘black and white like me’
Prince – ‘Everybody has a dream … your dream is my responsibility, is our success.’
Nikki – ‘My biggest flaw is that I’m stubborn,’ She says she has been working closely with VPs and will continue to, I will listen and act upon what students are saying.
Freya gets in a last question. How are you going to manage all four sabbs do their roles.
Nikki says she’s already got experience managing groups over London in a previous roles, so she knows how to manage her time and make sure everything works effectively.
Prince acknowledges not everything will come easy, but he’s reliant on regular meetings with people to see their progress and he thinks he will be able to build upon their concerns and carry out his promises.
Lareb says she’s aware of a system where the SU receptionists have to email a general summary of what happened, to check everything is working. A similar system would mean she can see an overview of what is happening and can make sure there’s no loose ties
There’s a question about sports and especially women’s sport being hidden away during Varsity.
Lareb wants more presence around the university on screens and online, Nikki wants to update a standalone app that allows societies to provide updates on sports and societies. Prince also believes there’s not enough publicity for events, and even using Blackboard for these updates.
It kind of took a tangent, but a few interesting ideas to get students involved and encouraging them to take part.
A twitter question raises the point about the lack of interest in student politics – how do you convince people to care about you and the SU?
Lareb – It’s a 50/50 give and take situation. The SU need to try getting people involved, but students also need to feel willing to get involved. We really need to start telling people why they should care. We need to state the importance by reaching out, so that we can help with any problems they have.
Prince – Most students didn’t know a election was going up, there’s not enough publicity. It forces candidates to talk and talk, to try to win votes. The SU should make details about the election more visible during the campaign.
Nikki – Technology needs to be utilised more in general, and the SU should take advantage of new ideas to get people involved with the campaign.
Where do you draw the line between your own opinion and the opinion of the student body?
Prince – I always have to meet the student body and the vice presidents first,to make sure he represents the right opinion.
Lareb – “Why would I have an agenda other than helping my students?” She says she’s done her research, and she wants to implement student’s opinion because they have given her the job.
Nikki – “I want to improve student’s experience at Westminster. That’s not one particular person, one particular group, that’s everyone”
Harrow VP Dan asks what their priority project would be.
You have a year in office and have to juggle many different responsibilities. Delivering for students is the most basic task for the SU. If you had to pick one priority project or campaign, what would it be? #uwsuvote
— Dan Seamarks (@vp_harrow) February 9, 2018
Lareb – Communication between students and the university, so students aren’t confused on why decisions are made about their campuses and courses. She raises the point that people on her course needed to start a petition just to get their point across after her course, Contemporary Media Practice, lost their space for the degree show without any notice.
Prince – An inter-campus sports competition. This would be an event to bring people together and unite people from across the campuses, that rewards success and is friendly
Nikki – Accountability is important. This year “there has been a Sabb who hasn’t been around much”, and says she hasn’t been able to be in contact with the LGBTI+ officer for this year either. She says students should be able to trust the people who are elected.
Freya has tweeted in a question
— Freya Thompson (@UWSU_President) February 9, 2018
Nikki wants to hold open sessions where students can come to see her, and also to make sure there are ways to be more visible around campus so students know they are working together. She suggests a blog, or a similar idea.
Lareb agrees, and says she wanted to introduce videos on a regular basis to show what is happening, and what the plans are for the future. She thinks this is a more engaging way of students getting involved with the SU.
Prince wants to meet with VPs on a weekly basis to find out from student reps to know what’s happening around the campus. If these take place on different campus, then people can see hi around the uni.
They are discussing now discussing security on campus. Prince says it’s possible for other people to come in and nobody is checking students bags – Lareb interrupts to say that it’s always necessary to use student cards to get in.
Naomi asks what specific security lapses there are on campus, and Prince says there’s moments where people use other cards and there could be improvements made.
Nikki argues there are bigger issues to discuss and that it’s not the role of the SU to focus on this
Again anonymous marking comes up. Lareb and Nikki both agree there is no need to know the person who wrote it, they should just base the grade on the quality of work.
The candidates are discussing accessbility.
Nikki is angry at students who use wheelchairs can only access the Regents Street campus through the adjoining cinema.
Prince says he doesn’t think there’s much the university can do, so it is not a major point of his campaign. Nikki refutes it and says “you might feel different if you were in a wheelchair and couldn’t attend lectures.” When pressed later, he says there is a platform already in place and it’s “not too bad.”
Lareb agrees with Nikki, and wants to work on this. She also wants to work on problems with invisible disabilities, such as dyslexia or learning-related problems. She also says she knows first hand the struggle to get appointments for services such as counselling, and she thinks this needs to be addressed.
We’re onto the key points of each candidates’ manifestos.
Nikki highlights the problems international students have when moving into London. They would like to build upon the work fans do, to try to bring together a communtiy. At the moment she says she sees very set groups of people when walking around campuses, whether people share ethnicities or ideals, but she wants to make sure people feel more included.
Prince wants to bring together support groups, whether that’s to help with people with anxiety and other mental health issues, or people with disabilities and to extend to people who want to stop smoking, for example. These groups will bring people together and foster a community.
Lareb is asked how the sexual assault reporting is not working at the moment. She points out the Undercroft is a place where a lot of assaults happen, and she’s seen the result of that when working as a SU reception. She wants an officer or authority figure to come into the university who can come and enforce procedures to make sure it’s taken seriously.
Naomi asks what will your approach be to make sure the student’s voice is heard?
Lareb highlights bringing up the We Are Westminster campaign. She’s already started brainstorming ideas with different societies on how to build upon that campaign and to bring a diversity of ideas.
Prince wants to connect with students across every campus, and to work on becoming a representative student voice to find out what they need and what they’re wanting.
Nikki agrees with the idea of We Are Westminster campaign, and wants to work with the representation officers to make sure all ideas are considered. She focuses on the need to be open and inclusive.
They wrap up, and we’re straight onto the debate for president. We have Nikki Hayden, Prince McCollins and Lareb Naseem
The current VP Joseph asks, how they will help students with mental health and disabilities?
Jamilla says she wants students to feel comfortable at university, and she wants to bring that to the forefront. She says she wants to be more visible around campus to make sure students can come to her with feedback.
Aklak believes that it’s also an important issue to address around campus, and believes that at the moment the facilities and services the SU can provide are not being publicised enough.
Harrow VP Dan tweets in a question about looking after the halls community at Marylebone.
Jamilla says she has heard problems with her basketball teammates feeling like they can’t separate home and uni because they currently have to walk through the university campus to get access into the room. She wants to look into using another entrance to try to help those students.
Aklak wants to use a different entrance as well, and points out that there is currently a door that isn’t used despite the fact it would benefit the students.
Ludovica asks about a subconscious and conscious bias in the marking of assessments, as the business school doesn’t currently insist on anonymous marking.
Jamilla says she has seen the effect of this first hand, and says that it’s insignificant for a marker to know anything about the person, other than the work. She says that is a key part of her plan for the year, and she will improve the relationship with academics and work with them.
Aklak backs up this point, and says that there is no real reason for marking to not be anonymous, and he will also look into changing this system.
Jamilla is asked about social spaces at Marylebone. She knows the budget is tight, but she is very keen on working on a plan to improve the spaces around campus. She wants to introduce an outdoor space for the summer, to find somewhere to socialise and relax on campus. There are also barely used rooms in the basement that can be repurposed.
Aklak also mentions the rooms in the basement that should be reused as social spaces, to find places for students to enjoy themselves.
Aklak is asked why he is keen on bumping up the NSS (National Student Survey) ranking of the university. He believes that because the survey is related to student’s feedback, it’s important to consider. He wants to make it easier to give feedback to the university, both positive and negative.
He also wants to bridge the gap between the students union and academics. He wants to introduce an academic board, who can respond to the work the SU is doing.
Ok my stream has gone so lets assume both candidates are killing it
Now we’re onto VP for Marylebone with Jamilla Torres and Aklak Uddin. Alexander Adloff is also running, and was hoping to join via Skype, but that doesn’t look like happening
Nabeel uses his last 30 second plea to empthasise the need to vote at all – whether for him or for Gerald.
Gerald says he “loves life, loves people… I just want to get everyone together.”
It’s a very polite and modest end to the first VP debate of the night
A member of the audience feels like Cavendish is the least known of the Zone-1 campuses
Nabeel wants an events space to raise attention to the campus. He raises the issue of the Tower Tavern, and thinks it’s essential to work on this being used as an asset – especially if MAD is relocated from the Harrow Campus. Gerald echoes this, and focuses on how sports teams being publicised around the campus would allow an identity to grow.
Ludo wants to know how the candidates plan to accommodate the diverse nature of the campus.
Gerald says he wants to start by speaking to and getting involved with every group represented across the campus to find out what they need. An example he gives is by going to the Bangladeshi society’s events to show he’s proactive to work with different cultures.
Nabeel mentions the state of the prayer rooms on campus. He says they’re currently so dirty that some of the male students who use the room have actually had rashes because of the conditions. He also wants to work on reopening the multi-faith prayer room.
Nabeel wants 24 hour software and hardware labs. He says he’s always struggled to find the time to use hardware labs when they shut at 10pm, especially around deadlines. He wants to update all the computers to add the latest software, but also allow students to sign out hardware similar to the laptop system.
Gerald’s manifesto specifies he wants to help students who may lose motivation or focus. He says he felt pressure to do a course he wasn’t particularly as passionate about, so he wants to promote more elected modules from other faculties. So he could do his course, but also his passion projects such as fine art.
He also wants to help societies bring speakers in, so by engaging with the SU then they will feel motivated when they return to their course.
Naomi asks about the lack of promotion for societies around Westminster.
Gerald mentions as captain of the Basketball team he knows their social media presence is high, but other societies may suffer. He wants more opportunity to display this around campus, to make sure there’s engagements.
Nabeel points out societies suffer with printing funding, so it makes sense to move to digital advertising. He says that by investing in a projector for the social space, that could be used for societies to showcase what is happening around university.
Naomi kicks us off with questions about the social spaces at Cavendish. Nabeel is keen on using the Tower Tavern as a new social space for students across all campuses, while Gerald suggests bringing in new events across the campus to include students who might not drink so feel excluded.
We’re back with the Cavendish VP debate. Up for this role is Nabeel Ahmad and Gerald Aguilar.
The host Naomi ask a question the candidates what they would do enhance women experience on campus
Sarah feels encouraging women to have a “sparky confidence” to help their work. Shafali feels making safer spaces a priori will enhance the experience. Kaniya argues helping women prepare for careers is another way of helping as well.
Sarah feels that the university is lacking in supporting women and giving them confidence to try sports and other male dominated career,
VP Harrow Dan Seamarks asks the LGBTI+ Candidates how they will balance their studies and the responsibilities of their role
Both Morgan and Shaik highlights the fact that they are a part of the LGBTI Society committee, so they think they have already proven that they can handle the role and being a student.
We now welcome our Women’s officer candidates.
We welcome our LGBTI+ Candidates for the first part of the debate tonight.
Tonight you will hear the candidates for the following positions:
– International Students Officer
– LGBTI+ Officer
– Women’s Officer
– VP Marylebone
– VP Cavendish
We’re back for night two of the UWSU Elections! Follow our live on-air coverage right now. All the latest updates here on our blog too.
And we are done in the Deep End for night one of the election debates. It got heated at times, and if you missed anything then you can catch up across Smoke Media.
We’ll be back again at 6 tomorrow, when the rest of the roles – including president – will be up for grabs!
Ludo mentions there is a disproportionate number of sexual assault allegations in the bar at Harrow.
Lama says we need to raise awareness about this. She took part in a focus group for a related charity, and she is wanting them to come into the university and provide training for staff. She also wants an easier way to report assault and provide help.
Michael says we need to educate people more about how to behave in the bar and introduce schemes focused about consent.
Stephen would like more significant repercussions for anybody who has been found to be abusive on campus, beyond just banning people from the bar but also across the university.
Tatenda says that the atmosphere of Harrow, has a lot to do with being a away from central London and cannot be replicated, therefore he is not in favour of the move.
— Westminster Uni SU (@WestminsterSU) February 8, 2018
Current VP Dan mentions about relocation rumours from Harrow. He asks whether the candidates would want to relocate and how would they address students about it
Michael says he thinks the location is more helpful for the campus, as a creative hub away from the business of the city
Lama would rather stay in Harrow, but she would make sure that if there was any departments who may move, she would ensure students would not lose any facilities during the process
Stephen is completely against it, acknowledging that they had just spent thousands on facilities in Harrow just to do away with that.
Freya tweets in a question about the Dragons sports sides, and how the VP candidates would work with teams.
Lama wants the Dragons logo plastered everywhere to make sure the team is recognised and that people are encouraged to join teams or to support them. She’d also like to look into improving the facilities in the Harrow sports hall.
Stephen believes if Wednesday afternoons were always free, then he could persuade TV students and student media to broadcast sports live.
Michael says he wants to continue promote the sports side and to help create Harrow as a hub for the sporting sides, to make sure people are aware what is going on.
Another question comes in about uniting campuses. Lama wants to showcase work from Harrow students, but also to persuade people from other courses to use spaces such as the library and the Emerging Media Space that allows students to collaborate.
Stephen says if they can persuade the university to keep Wednesday afternoons empty then being able to join societies and then people would be able to meet each other
Michael suggests having space and time to discuss more important subjects like mental health, so that people can collaborate on ideas to provide change as a community.
Lama says she feels students at the Harrow campus feel disconnected from the university of experience, and suggests the Campus Games which would be similar to residentials but allow students to meet other from the central campuses.
Our host Martin asks, where is this new money for student media going to come from?
Lama suggests cutting down on residentials – which are important but excessive at the moment as they don’t benefit the majority of students
Michael calls charging £2 for Messy Mondays ‘ridonkulous’, and that we should at least know where that money is going rather than just charging us for access to our SU bar.
Stephen says he wouldn’t need to cut money from the SU, rather he’d try persuading the University to prioritise the students union over ‘stupid’ ideas such as spending thousands on pods in Harrow Library
A question comes in from Twitter about funding for student media – which is behind universities like Leeds, despite having more media courses.
Michael believes the university does have the resources for it, but it’s not been addressed and plans aren’t being made
Stephen says the university are slowly cutting away at budgets, and he knows it’s not the SU’s fault but the fault of the university who should be held accountable.
Lama agrees student media does not get the funding. Even if the university can’t provide money, they should at least help with fundraising to raise money.
Stephen starts by stating making the forum 24-hours to allow for safer routes out of the library will be one of his priorities.
Michael says that some of the facilities and events at Harrow are not being publicised enough, despite having the resources in place
Lama wants to work on mental health, and says she’s discovered students often can’t get easy access to counselling and mental health services
Onto the second VP debate, this is for Harrow. Here we have Lama, Stephen and Michael standing
It’s all a bit louder in response to that debate. We’re having a short break before we move onto the debate for VP of Harrow.
In our closing statements, Sunny describes himself as a sunny guy to a pretty even mix of awws and groans. He loves the university and would love to be able to work to continue to improve the campus.
Wasim argues that he’s about cultural change and wants to change the ‘imperialistic roots’ of the university.
Aamish acknowledges that he’s not an expert on the role, but it would be a really exciting learning curve and he believes he can be representative across Regents and LTS.
It’s all kicking off. Wasim interrupts Naomi our host, to ask the candidates his own question.
He expresses disappointment that Black History Month wasn’t mentioned enough by the SU and University. He asks why his candidates don’t mention black students in their manifesto.
Aamish argues he does say in his manifesto that he wants to boost the coverage of this event.
“So how?” Wasim asks again. Aamish says he wants to collaborate with societies to make sure these things can happen.
Naomi asks, “but what are you going to do Wasim?” Wasim argues that he’s already planning and arranging events such as talent shows and catwalks around black talent, and that historic events can be given more regular prominence.
Sunny adds that he’d like to provide a platform for cultural societies to grow and foster a bigger community to grow and hold their own events.
Wasim argues that Westminster needs to decolonise the curriculum. He says that Quintin Hogg was a slave owner and imperialist, and that issues like this prove to be a problem with international relations, so the university should not brush over historical ‘atrocities’.
He’s wanting to speak to Regent’s dean and figures as high up as possible, to try to address some of the problems that students have with the curriculum that history students especially believe is too Eurocentric.
Sunny discusses the reforming of mitigating circumstances as mentioned in his manifesto. He’d like it to be easier for students to apply for extensions to make sure they can finish the work, and then being able to go through the mitigating circumstances process, rather than feeling demotivated knowing their work would be late – damaging their grades further.
Aamish addresses mentioning his course, politics, directly in his manifesto. He says this is because it shows that he’s willing to argue and knows the need for people to be engaged with politics at every level, not that his course will be prioritised.
There have been a few questions about full time officers. Wasim becomes more passionate, and argues that he specifically suggested BAME and women paid roles because they are both significant portions of Westminster’s community, and that they are being held back currently. He mentions UCL being able to justify these roles and the progress they’ve made, “you can hear the anger in my voice because it’s about time to push the culture forward.”
Freya tweets in a question about how the all male shortlist can make sure women’s issues are represented
Wasim – a full time employed female officer to make sure that women’s issues are covered and a full-time member of staff can focus solely on working to help female students on campus.
Aamish – The reporting of sexual assault is not working at the moment and is something that needs to be fixed. Also working with safe spaces to make sure that they can provide facilities and necessary products for female students that they require
Sunny – I’d take on these points, on my manifesto argues safe spaces are for victims of sexual aggression and that they are able to be provided with sanitary products without any embarrassment.
Sunny suggests a way of implementing new, more attractive social spaces for students on campus – suggesting that architecture students from Marylebone could work on this.
Wasim agrees with Sunny’s ideas, but he wants to make sure the voice of students at LTS is represented by working closely with those students.
Aamish suggests the introduction of smaller amenities that would enhance the “more microwaves, more kettles” but also work on making the areas around campuses safer for students working overnight
Here’s the candidates for Regents and LTS.
(L-R, Aamish, Wasim, Sunny)
All of the candidates manifestos have a focus on international students, our host Naomi raises the point that there’s already an international officer, so what are you going to do specifically
Sunny: Wants to introduce an international fair to showcase the diversity of the university
Wasim: Wants to hold more regular meetings over the year to make sure international students are welcomed into the university and can work on their concerns.
Aamish: More events to give a bigger welcome to international students coming to the UK.
Callum Hurley isn’t here tonight, but sends a statement. He wants the SU to become more democratic and representative of students. He always wants to revamp the room booking system to avoid speakers having to be cancelled. Facilitate ways and events for international students to make sure they make friends at university.
We’re back after a short break with the first VP debate, this for Regents & LTS
Following her debate, Ludo is back speaking live with Holly and Martin on our gallery at the Deep End in the Regents Campus to give her reaction.
Lubaba: A Westminster hate-crime reporting centre, so we know if it’s going up or down on campus and we know if we’re doing a good job.
Anmol: My focus is on racism, we’re all from different backgrounds but all have the same blood. My main project would be anti-racism.
Why should Westminster students vote for you
Anmol: Being a BAME officer is about culture and diversity. I am approachable, and I don’t want to make any false promises. What I say I will do.
Lubaba: I’m from a diverse background, but have also lived abroad so understand the challenges. I’m also approachable and a fun person, if there’s any problems I would be happy to help
We’re on to audience questions. How would you incorporate international students’ needs along with British BAME issues?
Lubaba: I think it’s important to speak to people, to make sure people will be able to tell me how I should work to make sure I know which issues to take forward.
Anmol: I’ll be active on social media, and I’d people to come forward and I am willing to support students, whether that’s university related or problems with moving to the UK like setting up bank accounts.
Lubaba: I know the benefit of support to help with finances and applying to univeristy to address the attainment gap with BAME students, and also to work on wider issues such as hate crime
Anmol: I feel like a lot of people from BAME backgrounds struggle with a glass ceiling, and would hope to help people to continue their studies into postgraduate level
That brings an end to the NUS delegate debate, but Lubaba and Kaniya remain on the stage to make their case for becoming the BAME Officer.
We’re to audience questions. After a pause, we do get one.
Ethel asks how are the candidates will do to make sure what happens nationally actually works for Westminster?
Dan: If students have a particular area of concern, then I am willing to make sure that is followed with the way I’d vote in motions.
Anmol: I think working with the VPs would be key to work together to represent ideas well
Ludo: Avoid internal politics at a national level, but will be able to see past factions and remember that you’re there to represent Westminster’s students
Lubaba: There’s not much to add, it’s important to keep Westminster in mind, rather than our agenda and speak to students to see what they are wanting to pass.
Kaniya: Taking polls and regular meetings, and not just walking to the conference but marching there.
Anmol wants to help fight against further increase in fees, especially for international students.
— Westminster Uni SU (@WestminsterSU) February 8, 2018
Lubaba promises to work with pre-existing NUS campaigns that fight Islamophobia, and create increased awareness in our uni as well
— Westminster Uni SU (@WestminsterSU) February 8, 2018
Kaniya wants to help create safe spaces for students who are victims of abuse.
— Westminster Uni SU (@WestminsterSU) February 8, 2018
Question: What are you two main priorities?
Lubaba: First, continue to support BDS (Boycott, Divert and Sanctions) in Israel and Palestine, and supporting mental health initiatives
Dan: It’s time NUS start to help students with finances, and with Brexit coming we should make sure our students will be safe next year.
Anmol: Working on student fees, and to make sure resources continue to be funded
Kaniya: Ensuring the diversity in communities continue to be represented
Ludovica: Ensuring NUS has a proper strategy on Brexit, making sure everything that is passed on a student level benefits on a local level
We’re kicking off with the NUS delegate vote
Dan: Over the last two years I’ve been able to see how it works… It’s time to make sure Westminster is represented in the best way possible
Anmol; The NUS referendums represent 600 universities, and I won’t offer one voice but I can represent a lot of voices from Westminster
Lubaba; BDS, and fighting against Islamaphobia and supporting mental health
Ludo; National student politics is fascinating, and I would be honoured to vote in the motions and represent Westminster as one of the most diverse universities in the country
Kaniya; If I’m being honest I might not know much about how it all works but I am really wanting to immerse myself in these national debates
NUS Delegates are outlining their manifestos.
To our right, the candidates are assembling for a group photo. All smiles at the moment, but we are about to get underway
We’re currently delayed at Regents by 15 minutes, but on the gallery, Martin and Holly are speaking to the departing SU President Freya Thompson live on Smoke Radio
The best way to let us know what you’re thinking about anything related to the debates, the easiest way of getting in touch is by tweeting us on @smoke_radio and using uwsuvote
Tonight we will be hearing from candiates running for the positions of;
VP Regent and LTS
So a busy night ahead, starting from 6pm, and you can follow all the action, across Smoke Radio, live on Smoke TV’s Facebook Page or across this liveblog and social media.
Smoke Radio is now live from the Deep End, at Regents Street with our coverage from the first debates of the election!
Holly and Martin are giving us a run-through of what to expect over the next couple of hours