Fourth year Journalism and Politics student Ryan Peteranna is taking on Astrid Smallenbroek for the role of Union President. He describes himself as being “more to the point” than “fiery”, and believes he has what it takes to make students here at Stirling matter.
If you’d asked Ryan four years ago if he intended to run for Union president one day, the answer would most likely have been no.
“I had significant anxiety problems and I think I struggled with the transition into university life. It took me quite some time, but I did eventually get support from the university through, not only the National Autistic Society, but also the counselling services and mental health mentor. It’s great that we have so many services available to help Stirling students. I wished I’d been made aware of them sooner.”
He decided to run for Union president because he feels he’d be more “suited to taking a more general representative role within the student union.”
“I feel the policy platform I’ve set out is designed to cover a broad but achievable series of policy positions. To make support matter, I want to launch campaigns on key facets of student life that are not necessarily restricted to one department or another and it’s important that we get different sabbatical officers working on the campaign together.”
Providing a smoother transition into university life and a more autism-friendly space on campus is something personal to Ryan. These are key points in his manifesto and where mental health is concerned he plans to make this a reality through more relaxed social events.
While some students enjoy “long nights of partying” during freshers’ week, needless to say, this is something that doesn’t appeal to everyone.
“We’ve already had events on campus to that effect. We had the alpacas at the start of the Union election campaign last month, we’ve had a loch walk I think in November 2017, there have been other similar events in the past where you could play with Lego and plasticine.”
He has no doubt he’d be able to achieve this aspect of making support matter within his first 100 days. Providing students vote in his favour, in this time frame, running from June 1 to the start of September – round about when students will be set to return for the autumn semester – he says he’ll strive to tick off other manifesto points as well.
Ryan continues to explain the importance of having an autism-friendly space on campus. “People with autism are just as capable of achieving successful things as the rest of us. I’d like to think the principle of it will be beneficial to everyone in general because it’s not just for a small minority, mental health is for everyone’s benefit.”
Throughout this year’s Union election campaign, mental health has been a key manifesto point for all candidates running for the different sabbatical officer positions.
“This illustrates the strength of student feeling on the issue and how keen our next Union team, whoever it may be, will determine to improve our students’ mental health.”
In order to avoid a repeat of August 2017 with many first-year students being denied accommodation, housing is another point he wants to take into consideration and feels refining the allocation process will make a real difference.
“I want to try to avoid the situation like we had in August 2017 when some students, particularly first year students, were left in the lurch with regards to halls of residence. I’d like them to get a minimum cancellation notice period negotiated through the proper channels at university.”
The environment is another priority and he explains: “If you look at Stirling it has one of the most picturesque campuses you’ll find for miles on end. I think that should be a marker of how significant the environment is to all of us.”
This would be tackled through pressuring the university for more electric vehicle charging points, implementing more mixed recycling bins and introducing more exploring other energy-efficient methods for campus buildings.
With regards to his thoughts on his competitor’s manifesto he explains: “There are parts of her manifesto that overlap with mine, I think she also said she wants to create as many recycling bins as there are non-recycling bins.
“There were other things she talks about, campus central, the atrium redevelopment project which will start to take effect from the 2018/2019 year. Basically, trying to utilise study space as far as possible, create as much as possible. I’m not going to go out of my way to criticise her manifesto because I know, like me, she only wants what she thinks is best for the student community here at Stirling.”
On a final note, he mentions: “I think I’d like my candidacy for Union President to act as anybody else to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and try out new things, because the general philosophy we have at Stirling Students’ Union is to give it a go, with regards to all sorts of things. Hopefully, I can at least be inspirational in that respect.”
Voting opens on March 12 at 9am until March 13 at 6:15pm which will be followed by the results party in Venue at 7pm. Brig will keep you updated on all the Union election action as events unfold.