Image courtesy of: Kent Television
Monday evening saw the Welfare and Communities Vice-President debate play out between two of the three candidates, Aisha Dosanjh and Ming Tan – third candidate Muhammad Abdullah did not arrive for the debate.
The candidates opened the debates on a positive note, both emphasising the Union’s role in bringing people together and creating a community atmosphere at Kent.
Ming focussed her opening statement on mental health, while Aisha spoke on the importance of accessibility.
When questioned on sustainability, both candidates agreed that while there are good initiatives already in operation, there was some way to go in terms of sustainability on our campuses. Aisha also proposed reward schemes for students using bicycles or walking to campus.
Aisha highlighted the fact that finances can be a barrier to students behaving in environmentally friendly ways, and ultimately agreed with Ming that outlets on campus like the Co-ops should be doing more to reduce single-use plastics.
On the subject of the Co-ops, both candidates agreed there should be better student presence in the management of the two Canterbury outlets.
On mental health, both candidates said they would draw greater attention to existing services but would make sure there is greater provision.
Ming said that she would focus on increasing free counselling sessions from five a year to five a term, while Aisha said she would aim to provide more crisis drop-in sessions than are currently available.
In a discussion about accommodation and the cost of living, Ming promised to see what she could do about reducing accommodation prices and updating some old-fashioned living areas on campus if elected.
Aisha said she would like to see common rooms in accommodation across campus, as well as ensuring disability-friendly rooms were more affordable.
Aisha agreed with Ming that financial management and budgeting lessons would be a good idea, but neither put forward a specific format for these.
On what they perceived to be the biggest issue students have today, Aisha argued that loneliness and a lack of access to extracurricular activities had to be addressed, whereas Ming thought that the negative free-speech culture at universities should be tackled.
When asked why she would be the best candidate for the Welfare role, Aisha answered that she had been involved with various aspects of the university for a while including being President of Stage Spiders. Ming emphasised her role in international student issues, such as campaigns on student visas.
Ming said that, if elected, her biggest priority would be mental health. Aisha said that hers would be accessibility and university facilities.
Both candidates closed by highlighting the importance of a more inclusive and accessible university community.