Leen Ali is running for Union President on a strong manifesto centred around accessibility, well-being and communication. It’s not her first experience with the word President, as we began by chatting about her presidency of the African Caribbean society.
“Being president of ACS had genuinely taught me a lot, I’ve been keeping up with the Union, I’ve been keeping up with everything happening around the university and I feel like I have the capability to do this role.”
An interesting aspect of Leen’s manifesto was the day-to-day life of the student, especially looking at the resources they need to succeed. Booking systems, seating spaces, library hours and buses were all on the agenda.
“It affects all of us! I can’t imagine the amount of students who make the effort to attend their lectures and the buses have let them down.”
However, it is not just day-to-day Leen wanted to talk about, but looking on a more national level at the cost of living crisis students have been facing and lobbying for extending the free bus journeys for under 22s.
She emphasised that she had more she wanted to achieve which was not on her manifesto. The environment and sustainability is something she wishes to expand upon looking at food waste and the food banks that the University currently offers like expanding on free breakfast.
Ali is also passionate about physical and non-physical safety, especially when talking about lighting around campus, and the lack of lighting around accommodations. “There has been a long history of women coming out saying they’ve been followed, so they don’t feel as safe anymore as they can’t see.”
Leen wants the campus to be a safe space for everyone, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalised. That includes the current student accommodation situation.
“I could go on forever about quality housing. What students pay for is not what they get.” She believes that the overall well-being of students starts with feeling secure and safe on their own campus.
Inclusion and Diversity
“We don’t feel included, we don’t know what’s going on, that’s the one big thing.”
Leen is an INTO student (International Student), which allows her to understand the struggles of a large unappreciated area of the student body.
“Three days ago I met a new INTO student and his initial reaction after I said I was an INTO student, he said ‘oh so you know the struggle.”
She wants to create a safe and comfortable environment in the university for all students ensuring inclusion and togetherness.
As she states in her manifesto, everyone deserves to feel valued and supported and she is dedicated to making that a reality.
When talking about communication, Leen came alive. “Communication is what is going to strengthen us as a student community.
“People perceive Macroberts as just a cinema centre no one knows of the theatres they have on, the spaces they can book, the crazy great events they have going on.”
Last semester, Macroberts had a black queer event at the theatre, which Leen raved about. She worries students are completely unaware of events on offer and how students they can utilise the space.
A point she is very passionate about is using the screens around the University. Whether this is showcasing University events, student-led projects or even the wider community, she feels like this would be a brilliant engagement tool.
“In order for us to succeed in everything, communication links between the university, union and students need to be improved.”
Finally, we spoke about why people should vote for her.
“I genuinely care, I genuinely want change and I genuinely think the points that I have written on my manifesto are plans that if elected will be fulfilled. You can Leenonme!”
Voting for the Union Elections opens on February 28, and closes on March 2.
Featured Image Credit – Leen Ali