Forgot to Write a Campaign Motto

People say that Student Union elections are shallow as they only focus on slogans and cheesy photos without having any real substance.

I totally disagree. I believe the philosophical background, skill and poetical depth that goes behind an election motto is a true work of art, sign of ability and passion incomparably superior to the greatest of theories and ideas.

Many candidates in the Manchester SU elections spent lots of time and effort creating the most eye-catching slogans but I forgot.

Anyway, as it is one of the most important aspects of the electoral campaign, I feel the necessity to write down a few.

You can choose the cheesiest one by voting in the poll at the bottom of the post.

If you have any further motto suggestions leave a comment!

Here goes:

  1. Vote Maxia for #1 community! Imagine combining an authentic Italian pizza, with Swedish meatballs after a night-out in Sankeys.
  2. Value for Votes: why go for small or regular if you can have MAXia for the same vote?
  3. MAXIAmising your student experience and improving the community
  4. If you are hungry for change in your community get A. MAXI(a) portion of community. 
  5. Vote MAXia, because size matters.
  6. Let Alexander the great become  your community mate.
  7. ‘Latinized form of the Greek name Αλεξανδρος (Alexandros), which meant “defending men” from Greek αλεξω (alexo) “to defend, help” and ανηρ (aner) “man” (genitive ανδρος).’ Oh WOW Alexander, defender and helper of the people, is running for Community Officer! I know who I’ll vote..

But my all time favourites are the UrbanDictionary definitions, some are so accurate! LOL

Click here to read up about my ideas to improve Manchester’s Student community.

Advertisements

Rewarding Loyalty and Participation

Working together with the entire exec team in the Union, I would like to create 2 point-based reward systems:

  1. For students who work voluntarily at the Union on a regular basis.
  2. For those who often use the services (Cafe’, Shops, Union-Bar, buying tickets for socials and events…).
  3. Student Community Award; a rare prize that rewords people giving as much as the Union possibly can to the few who prove outstanding bravery, selflessness  and community spirit.

REWARDING PARTICIPATION: for all the Students that work in the Union life and are creators of the ‘Student Community’

WHY BOTHER?

  • Incentive people to work voluntarily for the Union and RAG
  • Encourage societies to improve and achieve higher ranking.
  • Promote growth within the Union’s Student Media and motivate its contributors to participate more actively.

Getting involved in our Student Union should be a rewording experience: a place to socialise, learn new skills and try something new.

All of this is only possible thanks to many great people, that without getting paid dedicate a lot of time and effort to create a great experience for students in Manchester.

From society’s committee members, to organisers within the ‘Residence Association boards’, RAG volunteers, student-media contributors and student workers for the union’s services; everyone should get recognition for the work they do.

Starting from a ‘basic card’ with minor advantages, one can build-up points to obtain higher ranking cards that would give more bonuses.  Criteria would need to be established regarding  the amount of points given for an hour of work or for carrying out a certain project or covering a certain position of responsibility within the Union.

Different levels of involvement, different cards.

The more you work, the more advantages you get. From minor discounts and special offers to considerable reductions and free meals,entry passes and so on.

  • Basic Involvement: Anyone who works as a volunteer for 3 shifts (6-8 hours long) or writes 6 articles for the Mancunion, is involved in the production of 6 radio or TV show episodes. It has a validity of 2 months.
  • Considerable Involvement: For those who holds a position of responsibility and spend around 16 hours per week working for the Union.
  • Outstanding Involvement: For those who for one reason or another is voluntarily working for the Union for 25 or more hours per-week.

REWARDING LOYALTY: for all who regularly use the Union’s services 

WHY BOTHER?

  • To increase the number of people in the Union, making it an even bigger student social centre.
  • To Increase Revenue and re-invest it in funding activities and lowering prices

There should be a basic reward system in which you get points for every purchase you make within the Union or on the website, whether it is for buying food and stationary or a ticket for a social, every time you make a purchase you should get some points, that once reached set targets could give you freebies from the Union. Possible examples: drink and food vouchers, tickets for gigs and Pangea, shop vouchers, free entry pass for the club night… 

‘Student Community Honorary Award’ Card:

  •  Awarded exclusively to students of our university who prove outstanding bravery, selflessness  and community spirit.
  • Very few students will receive the award as it is meant to be something unique and an immense privilege.
  • The idea is that who receives this card was willing to give everything for a good cause and the Union, as a sign of gratitude, would try to offer for free every service it can afford (food, drinks, event and social tickets, society membership fees…).
  • Lasts for the entire duration of the card-holder’s studies.

Guidance for Students When Finding Housing

Too often landlords and estate agencies think they can get away with cutting corners or over-charging students as there is a common stereotype that we are all a bunch of alcoholic idiots that are easy to please and have a general cba attitude to life.

To be fair some students might fit the stereotype, but it is essential that the SU should give as much information and guidance as they can so that fellow students in Manchester, or arriving on exchange, know all the basic stuff and have the upper hand when signing the contract.

When signing a contract  you most likely will be, or have been, under a considerable amount of pressure. It is quite easy to see how this situation is used to the advantage of the person on the other side of the desk and although you won’t totally understand many things between the lines, after asking 2 or 3 clarifications you just give up and sign.

The Union offers a service that will read contracts and establish if it’s fair or not but most likely, did you know about that? Chances are you didn’t but even if you did, most likely there will be no time for that as the landlord mentions the famous other 3 groups that have also expressed interest in exactly the same house and that may sign any moment. You know they are probably lying, but what if they are not?

Quick consultation with future house mates  ‘What to do?’ is the recurrent question everyone asks each other..

#dispare #panic #fml #Iwantmummy #cba

Some might call their parents, hoping to get their blessing.

In the end… You sign the contract.

Our University together with the other universities in Greater Manchester have set up an amazing service called ´”Manchester Student Homes” that through its website and advisers can do a lot to help students find the right house that complies to all the standards of living that we are entitled to by law, BUT many Students don’t even know of its existence.

What could the Union do?

  • Give ‘crash courses’ on how to pick the right house, what to look out for, understanding contracts, deposit schemes and so on.
  • Work in partnership with Student Media: dedicated coverage in the Mancunion, shout outs and pod-casts on Fuse FM and a Documentary series exposing ‘bad’ landlords and agencies together with short guidance videos with advice.
  • Create a standard contract in partnership with Manchester Student Homes, that landlords or agencies can choose to use if they want the quality standard certification from the our Union.

What above stated is not going to be an easy task, but if our Student Union woks together with the other universities’ SUs this could be a massive step in showing that if 100.000 students in Greater Manchester work together, we can get it our way.

Transforming the concept of ‘Student Bars’

Student Bars should be the centre of Student life.

In my view they should be organised and run by the SU, as opposed to profit-driven companies and the workers should be student volunteers that would work for fun as a way of meeting new people and gaining experience. In exchange the SU could pay them with drink vouchers on top of a series of privileges gained via the reward system.

The common idea of a ‘Student Bar’ is a place open in the evening where students go to get trashed before going on a night out. Although for many this is a great part of student life, I believe they could and should offer more.

How could this be done?

Becoming more then just a Bar:

How?

  • Having longer opening hours
  • Serving tea, coffee and hot drinks .
  • Serving food such as: snacks, fresh sandwiches, salads, pastries, basic meals and so on.
  • Creating special events during the day such as a Waffle-buffet, Brunches on weekends, Pancake days and so on.

Helping deal with the ‘alcohol problem’ in the evenings.

How?

  • Cheaper prices for drinks (even alcoholic ones) would encourage people to pre-drink in the bar as opposed to bedrooms or corridors. The bar workers would stop serving someone if they are ‘worryingly drunk’ and seek for medical assistance if need be.
  • Offering complementary soft drinks with each shot of spirit you buy.
  • Removing invasive posters advertising beers and spirits.
  • Making water jugs readily available so that anyone can help themselves without having to ask or cue.
  • Offering a variety of non-alcoholic cocktails.

Why Bother?

  • So to create vibrant, local, student-run, social centres that don’t limit themselves to selling booze.
  • Create more opportunities for students to get experience as barman, baristas, cooks (preparing sandwiches, salads and basic meals) and in managerial roles running a small business.
  • To offer cheaper prices then a student bar would normally (as most are run as a profit-driven business).
  • To create a cheaper, ethical, environmentally conscious, student-run alternative to Starbucks or other similar franchisers.
  • The minimal profit could be re-invested in supporting other SU activities and projects.
  • To create a community around them, both amongst the volunteer workers and amongst the people who go there.

Potential Problems:

  • Nobody will want to work for free.

The shifts would be short (max 6 hours long). The students would get rewards for what they do via the reward system.  Freshers and exchange students, who generally have less academic pressure, would be particularly encouraged as being new to Manchester they would be more eager than most to get to know new people and be part of a community of student-workers for that bar for which socials and free staff parties would be organised. them. A small wage could be given if working on a busy evening shift and together with the tips they could earn an extra few ££ a week (that is better than nothing!).

Bringing SU Activities to Fallowfield

Most students would agree that Fallowfield is the heart of Manchester’s student community.

Manchester is a ‘city-based’ university that implies a lack of a real campus and having many buildings and student residential areas spread out across the city.

Manchester does not entirely fit the definition as you have two main distinct university areas:

  • One compact university campus with offices, classrooms, lecture halls, library and so on. This area can be defined as ‘work’ and ‘study’. There is also ‘North campus’ but the university is planing (on the long term) to move the remaining courses to new facilities that will be built on the south campus.
  • The student accommodation area is totally separate. This can be found mainly  centred round Victoria Park, Fallowfield and Whithinghton but it stretches down to Didsbury, Levenshulme and then up Rusholme and into the city centre.

And where is the Student Union located? It’s in the virtual ‘study campus’ so it is hard for many people to reach it and once you leave the building in the evening you are surrounded by a sleeping city with no sign of life as everything nearby is shut (except Jabezz C. pub).

Owens Park is a much closer location to most students’ accommodation than the university area is and many people could reach it on foot.

Quick estimation of how long it would take to walk from Owens’ Park to the different areas listed (obviously it will depend on your pace and the amount of drinks you had but this estimate is based on ‘Google Maps’):

O.P. to Whithinghton centre, outside the library: 16 min (0.8 miles).

O.P. to Victoria Park area : 24 min (1.2 miles)

O.P. to Rusholme (near petrol station): 21 min (1.1 miles)

O.P. to Didsbury Village: 33 min (1.7 miles).

Whilst Fallowfield Centre to the Student Union building is a 33 min walk (1.7 miles).

My Idea:

  • To work in partnership with the Fallowfield Hall’s Residence Associations.
  • Use some of their common rooms, facilities and bars to offer the possibility to societies to hold meetings and socials there.

All offices, student media and meeting rooms would remain in the original building but there would also be the extra space that could allow us to create more facilities. This would not be up to me but I would suggest: a prayer room, a student-run restaurant (bigger then the pub and with different kind of food), a napping area (any student could rest without fear of being ‘spotted’), a small gym and other facilities that students could use to relax, pray, study or eat whilst they are waiting for their next class or perhaps to take a break from revision.

On a more complicated and long term project entire halls could be taken over by the SU and combine both student run accommodation and activities. I thought about how this could be carried out in my former hall of residence which is no longer being used.

Student Union Run Accommodation

This is an idea based on what I am seeing here in Uppsala and although, for an enormous number of reasons, recreating in Manchester what they have here is impossible, some things could be brought over.

The General Idea:

Creating housing owned and run by the student union exclusively for students that get involved as volunteers within or for the Student Union.

Involved in what way?

  • Working a few hours a week in one of the Union outlets (Bars, Shops, Giggs, Club nights).
  • Getting seriously involved in RAG.
  • Holding a committee position within a society and being actively involved.
  • Being an active course rep.

To establish the level of volunteer work one does for the Union there could be a special individual ‘point system’.

What Would be so Special about SU accommodation?

  • Competitive Price (with all bills included).
  • Good quality, fully furnished, bedrooms.
  • Good location.
  • In a community of fellow students who most likely share similar values on the importance of building a good university experience and making a difference for other students.

How could this be done?

I have already thought of a way, but need to check if what I have in mind is plausible as I would not want to promise something unachievable.