Anastasia Mendini, a Union President candidate, promises “student welfare, inclusivity and earthfulness” in her manifesto.
In an interview with Brig, the third-year sustainable events management student said she’s already involved with the Students’ Union being an Event Coordinator for the Environmental Enterprises Society and a member of a charity society – Stirling Dig Deep Kilimanjaro Society.
She believes her current involvement with the societies and a committee position gives her the necessary experience for the job of Union President.
She joked she wouldn’t “sleep for eight days” just to complete a given task.
Anastasia admitted to speaking with different people to ask their input on what could be improved within the University and she thinks her manifesto reflects that.
She said she researched what an ideal students’ union should look like in the UK, and it is “very different from what we have now in Stirling.”
The candidate said she knew which areas exactly required improvement to make Stirling Students’ Union much better than it is now.
One of the main points in her manifesto is “inclusion and celebration of all peoples.” Anastasia wants the Students’ Union to be open and welcoming to everyone.
She particularly wishes to welcome “any kind of communities that […] don’t feel like they can express themselves.”
Anastasia said she wished to “erase discrimination” within the student body.
Brig asked the Union President candidate if she finds the campus environment discriminating at the moment.
“I don’t think it’s entirely discriminating but I’m sure there are so many things that make people upset. […]
“For example a friend of mine in the past wanted to change their gender, or [be] recognised differently [by] the university, and that like took like a very long journey.
“If you don’t feel good right now and you want to change [how] you express yourself entirely you should do it straight away.”
Anastasia said knows the Black and queer communities “have some things around the uni that [make] them upset.”
She would like to engage with the African & Caribbean Society and the LGBTQ+ Society to help them organise and promote different events, for example Pride Week, which she believes was not well-advertised this year.
Anastasia said she would like as many students as possible to participate in these events: “They’re important, they allow people to express themselves.”
The Union President candidate believes all events organised by the Union need to be promoted better in order to get more people involved in them.
Anastasia thinks updating the Union website would be helpful to advertise these events, but she finds the website requiring a lot of change in general, as it is difficult to navigate.
“You completely forget what you were looking for, because you just get confused about all these different pop-ups. […]
“There are so many things that don’t work [on the Union website], especially links. […]
“We have to fix that, honestly,” she said.
Anastasia believes student poverty to be a serious issue with increasing living costs and financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Students have experienced a very big lack of resources.”
The candidate told Brig the details of her plan to erase student poverty.
Firstly, she wishes to work with the University on lowering accommodation costs to make the rent more affordable.
Secondly, Anastasia has an idea of introducing a “free meal scheme” that would either be implemented on weekends, or depend on individual income.
She’s confident the scheme can be set up with the University, as she knows similar plans have been introduced at different universities already: “I’m sure it would be possible.”
Anastasia is determined to make the university experience better for the students: “We are few students, but we deserve the highest quality anyway.”
One of the main points in Anastasia’s manifesto is improving the experience of first-year students.
She wishes to make sure the new students are well-informed of what’s going on and they can find their way around campus.
Anastasia wants to “bring Stirling to students” by informing them of all the places they should visit, “where to eat” and “what’s sustainable and what’s new.”
She would like to let people know of all the opportunities Stirling has to offer, like jobs or volunteering experiences.
The third-year claimed there is a lot of misinformation about events, which causes students not to come to them, despite wishing to.
Anastasia stated navigating the campus can be quite challenging as “there’s no maps,” which is something she’d like to work on.
She wants everyone to benefit from their time at university and enjoy it.
“It’s gonna be something that remains with [you for] life, and you’re always gonna look back at it.”
As a sustainability events management student, Anastasia plans on making the campus greener: “I am very big on the environment.”
Environmentalism is one of the main points in her manifesto, she has a lot of ideas on how to introduce change and improve the University grounds.
One of the candidate’s ideas is minimising food waste.
Anastasia used to work at the Nisa store on campus, which is no longer there, and saw firsthand the amount of food thrown away every day, which made her “upset.”
She also sees lots of uneaten food, for example pizzas left around campus, which also goes to waste.
She said awareness needs to be increased among students in order to prevent that.
Summarising her sustainability efforts in one word Anastasia said “earthfulness” which means mindfulness only towards Earth and awareness of how our actions affect it.
As Union President, Anastasia would work to introduce apps like Too Good To Go or Vinted, which help reduce food waste by selling food that is about to expire at a much lower cost.
She would “advertise and implement them everywhere.”
Anastasia said she wanted to get the student body more engaged with their Union: “get the students to talk, get the students to express their opinion[s].”
She is devoted to listen to the students’ voices, learn about their interests, and involve them with the activities of the Union: “I’m qualified […] because I care.”
“If you’re telling me something, I will assure you that I listen to it and I will get it changed,” she promises.
Featured Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union