Student Engagement debates: what they said

Image courtesy of: Kent Television

The first debate of the campaign trail saw VP (Student Engagement) candidates Sneha Chawla, Catherine Reeve, Megan Warwick, Alicia Roberts, Aldo Manella, Carolina VE and Heather gather to discuss key issues facing students at Kent.

There was consensus among the candidates on several issues. Sneha focused on Medway and likened the community to be like a “tight little family”.

She proposed the idea of a Canterbury versus Medway varsity and lamented at the how Medway was often under-appreciated.

Catherine echoed similar sentiments and was “disheartened” to hear that half of the candidates had never been.

Megan and Aldo agreed and both sighted irregular shuttles to be a key reason so few go. Megan also expanded on her idea of creating a multiplex sports facility on the Medway campus.

A running theme throughout the night was that of communication.

Alicia highlighted response to her survey which showed that student frustration regarding Kent Union’s tendency to make unilateral decisions.

Aldo followed suit and reiterated his Auxilium idea first proposed in his manifesto. He highlighted the need for more collaboration beyond “joint socials” and clarifying communication channels between students and the Union.

Heather stressed that “student have their voices heard” through her proposed communication platform. On the other hand, Carolina suggested a weekly calendar of events to keep students up to date and informed.

The handling of finances was first brough up by Catherine who commented that the paper system was unsustainable and antiquated. She believed that her proposal to move all finances online would clarify and simplify the process.

Sneha and Carolina both pushed for more inclusivity stemming from their experience as international students.

Carolina recommended an expansion of the food festival for Medway whilst Sneha suggested more networking opportunities within the groups to promote collaboration.

Similarly, Alicia highlighted the need to make more societies accessible. In her view, this was best done through “flexibility”.

Megan reflected on her experience within the Lacrosse team, which promoted BAME only sessions. Her ideas revolved primarily around the concept of inclusive spaces. This was also reflected in her suggestion that there should be an additional, bookable weight room for those who may not feel comfortable in the open space within the gym.

The closing statements saw Catherine assert that “change needs to happen, and change needs to happen now”.

A similar sentiment was later reflected in Heather and Carolina’s closing statements in which Heather regarded herself as “the change” Kent needed and Carolina stressed that she is “100% here for the students”.

Aldo, bucked the trend and instead of self-promotion opted for change regardless of who won. This was evident in his closing line “our autonomy is our own, vote for who you think is best”.

Alicia, on the other hand, hammered home her campaign goals as “accessibility, availability and achievement”.

Meg, although she was cut off, also focused on the “ambitious” points of her manifesto which she believes she can achieve due to her extensive participation in student groups.

Sneha took a slightly different approach to the other, reiterating that she was the candidate for both Medway and Canterbury with her focus on improving the lives of students on both campuses equally.

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