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VP Education candidate Calum Brown aims to take issues “head on”

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VP Education candidate Calum Brown aims to hit the ground running if he is elected in the Student Union elections. 

Brig recently caught up with fourth-year Sports Studies student Calum Brown in his campaign to becoming the next VP Education.  

Calum believes his previous experience as a Module Rep and also Sports Faculty Officer will give him an advantage if he is elected.

He said: “Yeah, absolutely.”

“I’m pleased to say that I did two stints as a Module Rep within sports and that experience from those two roles allowed me to gain the confidence to be able to run/apply for the Sports Faculty Officer role within sports.

“A great department.

“So I’ve really got kind of deep into conversations and work as a Module Rep, which then allowed me to experience what staff experience as well as students. So, getting it from both sides of the field and being in that advantageous position allowed me to gain the experience necessary for the Sport Faculty Officer role.”

“Which again is just a step up from the Module Reps in terms of the amount of work that is required. The commitment to the students, but also again to the staff.”

“It’s a two way street with the Faculty Officer role, mostly with students.”

“But you do have to work with the staff too, and I think that role has just enlightened me into the inner workings of the University, in our politics and how much student-staff relationship is important and critical to the workings of our education.” 

“So, absolutely I think it would be advantageous as I already have a good idea about how education is run, and I can use that to my advantage, especially when negotiating with the different University partnerships.” 

Summarising his manifesto, Calum said: “The first of the 3 is Covid Recovery: with this next academic year on the horizon, it will bring its own challenges, especially when we get out the other side of Covid. I would like to bring more support for employment, new students, and a review into the handling of Covid, as well as no detriment being clarified.

“I would also like to continue restoring the relationship/partnership between the Students Union and the University, for your Student Voice to be heard efficiently, especially with involvement in policy.

“Finally, with our education, it is important to continue improvements and recovery for professional placements that certain degrees require, especially after the year that they have had, being effected by COVID-19. I also wish to improve programmes such as the Module Reps, so that the students realise how important and valuable they are to our education.”

COVID-19 recovery is a main point on Calum’s manifesto. Brig asked why this was.

Calum said: “So COVID-19 is obviously a big topic of the last year and unfortunately we are still in a high period of it. But that’s looking to be getting better.

“Covid recovery sits with me massively because my part-time job just now is actually an NHS contact tracer.

“So this subject is something I hold quite personally.

“As being a part-time job and being within the NHS inner workings, it’s something that’s important and needs focused on and this next year hopefully it will be the year that we come out of it.

“So the Covid recovery has to be at the forefront of everything. I’ve explained that maybe to someone before that it is almost like a, what’s the easiest way to describe it, like a wartime cabinet.

“This year is not going to be normal again, so the upcoming year for Vice President Education is going to be completely different, like Lexi’s current job has been.

“Where the main focus has to be Covid recovery otherwise things might get left behind or forgotten about.” 

Calum’s COVID-19 recovery plan will look at employment and further education, supporting new students, looking at a Student Union Review of COVID-19 and education, and to also look at the ‘No Detriment’ policy. 

Image credit: Stirling Students Union

Brig asked VP Education candidate Calum whether he thought, if elected, the next year would be a challenge. 

He said: “Absolutely for sure.” 

“I think it will be a challenging year. It’s not going to be, I’d hope it’d be a normal year in terms of society.

“However, as we’ve seen from the pandemic, it’s almost like we can’t define normal anymore.

“So whatever comes up, comes up and I’m more than happy to take it head on and I do believe myself as being quite headstrong.

“So issues that do come up, I’m not going to back down from and that’s absolutely for sure. The next year will be challenging, I think, like we’ve seen in the news today, there’s a new variant from Brazil of COVID-19 which could be a concern.

“It’s unknown yet, however when we’ve got plans or sorry when the NHS have got plans and the Government have got plans for the next stage of vaccinations, which is hopefully the over 50s and then after that it will be 16s to 49s.

“So that’s going to be after April 16 – 49, so I would hope that over the summer that we can get a major part of the population vaccinated, and that will hopefully help a transition back to University in September.

“However, I’m in no position to comment on that, unfortunately, but it’s not my decision of course.

“However, I would hope and I do wish for a safe environment that we can come back in September and actually get students back into University, and I think that is the hope of the Government too, and they are working obviously with the University groups of Scottish University group, to be able to work in this and develop on this.

“So I absolutely encourage anyone that gets offered the vaccine to take it, as it will help society get out of COVID-19. It will help us get back to University, as well and I think it has to be expected as we’ve seen over winter that even if things do go to plan, sometimes it doesn’t go to plan.

“So I think we need to take everything with a bit of caution, obviously with optimism. But mostly with a pinch of salt and take it as safe as we can.

“So yes, absolutely, the next year will be challenging.”

Brig also asked Calum what makes him the right choice for VP Education. 

Calum said: “…we refer back to my experience with my time as a Module Rep and Faculty Officer being some of the most enjoying moments of my University journey, if we call it that, and these have given me the insight into what the University education environment is and how it works, and this is something that is obviously needed to be a good Vice President of Education.

“Going into it with good inside knowledge in terms of how systems work, how processes, how staff work is obviously at an advantage.

“Because I believe a big thing with a sabbatical role is the first couple of months it is learning and getting comfortable with the role and all the different duties.

“However, if I can go into it with an advantage it gives me more time to focus on my duties and my manifesto without having to spend a lot of time getting used to different processes and building relationships with staff.

“If I already go in with a good base, then I believe I will be doing a better job hopefully and again, hopefully it lets me allow to, it would be my ambition to allow me to focus on my manifesto straight away.

“And that’s what I think will be most important with any sabbatical role within the next year. Hitting the ground running and not letting any time slip, anytime will be precious to work on, especially within the job. Within a year.

“I believe there’s a lot of time, to do a lot of things and that is my absolute ambition and hope. I also believe I am friendly, approachable and enjoy being able to engage with students…” 

Additionally, Brig asked Calum to describe himself in a few words.

He said: “Open, friendly, hardworking, resilient… determined.”

Calum is going up against one other candidate. 

You can read Calum’s full manifesto here.

Voting opens on the March 8 at 9am, and closes on March 9 at 6.15pm.

Image credit: Calum Brown/Facebook

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