Calum Brown: “Students should not suffer by choosing further education”

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Current Vice President Education Calum Brown is standing for re-election after narrowly missing out on Union President last month.

This week, Brig sat down with Brown to talk about his campaign and ask why he decided to run for a second tenure.

He said: “Obviously there was a very close election for Union President, I absolutely think students have voted in superb sabbatical officer team and it’s taken a bit of thinking to go away and think about my current position and role.

“But I think I’ve still got so much more to give to the students no matter the job title. That’s been the main motivation is continuing the great work that myself and the current sabbatical team have been doing so far”

This April by-election comes as only three sabbatical positions were filled in the Union Elections 2022. Not a single candidate ran for the post back in March. Brown is the only candidate in the running.

“I think having the experience and knowledge this time to hit the ground running is going to be really beneficial both to myself and the students if they choose to re-elect me.”

Calum brown

When asked why the position had zero candidates back in March, Brown said: “There’s probably a number of factors at play.

“Whether the pandemic coming to an end, people seeing other opportunities; for example for fourth years there’s probably a favourable job market out there just now, and maybe slight confusion.

“Obviously as a standing candidate I wasn’t allowed to say anything at the time in the nomination process, so I don’t know maybe people had the wrong idea that I was going for VP education again at the time.

“Several factors at play but I’m glad to be running for the position for re-election this time.”

Brown’s manifesto outlines four key policies. If elected, he wants to build upon the work he has done this year, using his experience to deliver upon his promises.

He said: “Enhancing our education is very much one of the main points, that’s why it comes first, because I want to be able to use my experience in the role already to positively influence the planning and implementation of university decisions for the foreseeable future.

“This summer is a massive time for decision making at Stirling University and I believe that I’m able to take that experience and knowledge into those conversations especially when some of those conversations have started in my current term.

“Education has changed because of the pandemic, I really do think we need to focus on the balance between students wanting to come back to campus and respecting the flexibility and suitability remote learning offers.

“I’ve done both as a student and as a worker so I believe I can communicate students’ views in the correct way to senior management.”

Brown also promises to modernise the University’s approach to mental health and wellbeing. This is a point Brown has carried on from his Union President manifesto because he believes it is ‘vitally important’.

He said: “I’ve said before this would include completing the student mental health agreement between the union and the university.

“Additionally, creating a parachute group for students who drop out of university, again another important aspect helping them in their next step of the journey, so informed by students or ex-students.

“Finally, increasing and renovating the well-being space in the library, its own ongoing project, something I worked hard on the last year and one of those projects that will take time to do, so hopefully I would be able to get it over the line if re-elected as VP education.”

Developing the Union’s discipline and gender-based violence policies and increasing inclusivity and accessibility at the University also feature in Brown’s manifesto.

He said: “Developing our discipline and gender-based violence policies – again another point carried on in this manifesto because I believe it is vitally important too.

“Being able to lobby the university to invest in more investigative officers to speed up that discipline process because cases are still months behind, whilst also integrating a separate independent professional organisation to investigate sexual violence in the university’s discipline cases.

“Currently, it is senior management and someone like myself making the decision so it needs to have more informed and professionalisation in those cases.

“Seeking implantation of a gender-based violence module for all new students like the St. Andrews University model I think would be beneficial here at Stirling. As well as supporting the Help not Harm campaign to explore restorative approach to minor drug and alcohol cases.

“The final point is increasing inclusivity and accessibility, so again, removing the stigma that classrooms can’t be used.

“If it’s empty space it’s a study space for me.

“Re-implement the students’ rights to their ARUAA provisions, again this is something that was a bit of a blurred line during the pandemic, and it needs to be reset back to how it was.

“I’ve mentioned it before, integrating permanent hybrid learning options, keeping education more accessible for all, and keep pushing that new vision for education, so being able to talk to government departments for student funding to cover the cost of living for students.

“Students should not suffer by choosing further education.”

Given Brown has already severed as VP Education, Brig asked if he would change his approach this year if re-elected.

He said: “I think there’s always room for improvement, there’s always time and space to learn from your previous experience.

“The last year has been a brilliant year and I think having the experience and knowledge this time to hit the ground running is going to be really beneficial both to myself in the position and obviously to students if they choose to re-elect me.”

Calum Brown’s full manifesto can be found here.

Voting is currently open and will close 6.15p.m Tuesday 26 April. You can vote on the Stirling Students’ Union website or by using this link.

The results will be published online shortly after voting closes.

Feature Image Credit: Stirling Students’ Union

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