Former Sports Studies student Calum Brown believes his current role as Vice President Education gives him an advantage over the other candidates in the upcoming Union Elections.
In an interview this week, Brig asked Brown if his tenure as VP Education could help him become a successful Union President.
He said: “Absolutely!”
“I think it’s the most appropriate step up compared to the other sabbatical roles to go for union president based on experience, the great amount of work, and, the scope of the work that a VP Education has to do.
“I think my candidacy can be based on the extended remit that I gave myself this current year as VP Education working on other things in supporting the Sabbs, for example, the quarantine hotels was not only in my interest as VP education, but the whole union interests to protect students and the accessibility to education.”
As Sabbatical Officer experience is central to Brown’s candidacy, Brig asked if he had achieved the promises made when running for VP Education last year. Brown said: “I’ve achieved most of them.”
“I’m going to be completely honest there’s a couple I haven’t achieved yet but that’s because my term isn’t done yet, my term finishes on May 31, but I can say confidently that these projects are well underway and there getting into their final stages.
“For example, the careers service I had on my original manifesto which involved putting on more employability opportunities for students. That’s hopefully going to take place just after my office so I’m getting that set up where there will be immediate graduate opportunities for students.
“Effectively we’re going to have careers day where students will be able to turn up and if they’re not quite sure what path they want to go down or if an employer is coming that they would be interested in working for then they can go straight to that just after finishing their dissertation.
“The rest of the projects have been completed or just about to be.”
Brown’s manifesto is based upon 6 key policies. Tackling ageing accommodation, developing gender-based violence policies, increasing inclusivity and accessibility, modernising the union’s approach to mental health and wellbeing, strengthening sustainability, and transforming travel. According to Brown theses are: “six great points which required a lot of thought.”
He said: “Even our new accommodation is now ageing so it’s making sure we pin the university down into the commitment for either new accommodation or working with external partners.
“For developing our discipline and gender-based violence policies these are policies that I’ve actually been working on directly this year along with Alyson VP Communities and I’ve seen the small let-downs let’s see in terms of the gaps in policy and I believe again the months and months that we have been working on them I now know that gaps and have identified them and I want to work with the university to get them right.
“Increasing our accessibility and inclusivity, that’s another key area that I think is on every manifesto of all the candidates and rightly so.
“This involves helping post-grads have a comfortable place to study and also removing the stigma of empty classrooms. For me, an empty space is a study space.”
Brown continues: “Permanent hybrid learning as an option, I think there speaks for itself keeping accessibility in education.
“Lobbying the university to cut ties with the companies that they invest in and either has colonial or imperialistic connotations.
“In terms of sustainability, Nella [Cadinanos Gonzalez] has done a fantastic job in the last year to boost it and I think it’s just about taking that forward. Part of that would be supporting the careers service to remove fossil fuel careers from its events or, if they can’t, at least an alternative for every company invited.”
Modernising the union’s approach to mental health is central in Brown’s bid for Union President. He wants to “renovate” Stirling’s approach, placing a greater focus on helping students who drop out.
“I know due to the size of the project it will not take one sabbatical office so that’s why I want to continue as union president.
“Creating a parachute system for those that choose to drop out of university because ultimately, you’ve chosen to come here so we should be the ones that support you on your journey onwards.”
Additionally, Brown aims to complete the student mental health agreement between the union and the university, which “has just been sitting on the desk between the two and just needs to be committed to.”
“I want to ensure our union products are both ethical and sustainable and also increase sustainability in our education from our classrooms right to our module content. Ultimately, I really want to enact the motion that was passed a couple of years ago that created the sustainability committee but it never went ahead.
“Finally, I want to transform our travel. This is protecting the student discount for over 22-year-olds because unfortunately with the under 22 free travel coming in someone in First Bus’s eye might have to pay the cost and I’m quite worried that that will be over 22s. However, being a Sabbatical Officer, I have been on some of these meetings and I do know that the government are subsidising the cost of under 22 free travel for First Bus so they aren’t losing any money at all. So, there is scope to increase the discount for over 22-year-olds and that’s something I’ll be fighting.
“Additionally, I want to bring back the campus shuttle bus for students that need accessibility around campus, it was great once we had it, I think there can be more done to advertise it and suit students’ needs. What I’ve seen other councils and other institutions do is a ring and ride service, so basically phoning up to say you’re ready to be collected and taken to your next point of destination.”
Brown believes his experience within the Student Union, existing connections, knowledge of current issues and proven track record set him apart from the other candidates. “I think it’s the trust that students can put in me”, he concludes.
“I’ve had nearly a year as a Sabbatical Officer, and it is the experience and knowledge that goes a long way here and I am just asking for students to put that trust in me.
“They know how I work; they know my work ethic; they know my achievements and it is now taking that up to the next level. I really do think that is what will change this union going forward.”
Calum Brown’s manifesto can be found here.
Voting opens at 9:00a.m on Monday, March 14 and closes Tuesday, March 15 at 6:10p.m.
Feature Image Credit: Calum Brown / Stirling Students Union