Your presidential candidates: Tolu Shomoye
Alex Charilaou 3 March 2021
Image by: Tolu Shomoye
Tolu Shomoye is a postgraduate student in Financial Economics and is running to become Kent Union President. His experience includes being a School Ambassador for the School of Economics, head of the BAME Network at Santander London and being on Lambeth Youth Council.
Tolu used his experience to discuss how he would approach the responsibilities of Kent Union President, including using his experience as School Ambassador when speaking with students, and using his time at Lambeth Youth Council as a guide for managing the Union budget.
He contrasted the university to a private company and said the absence of ‘money’ made the university slower reacting than a private company, where ‘things run more quickly’ because of money.
Tolu was the only candidate to say he would not push the university for Covid-19/online learning financial compensation if he was elected Kent Union President. Instead, he would want to look at giving students more ‘seminars’ or something similar.
When asked how the current Sabbatical team has done, Tolu answered that there have been many barriers to getting things done that were promised at the last election, not least COVID-19. Tolu does think they’ve done well around diversity especially, but ‘more’ could have been done.
When asked how he would achieve his aims as President, Tolu said that he would take a ‘holistic’ view of the structure of the Union and that he wasn’t able to ‘tap into the vision’ of the current Sabbatical Officers. While taking into account ‘structural difficulties’ in getting things done through the Union bureaucracy, he believes that Sabbatical Officers must be more ‘visible’.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
Tolu, like all the candidates I spoke to, was confident, easy-going and responsive to my questions. His experience is for sure a boon to his candidacy. With this said, there were a few weak points in our interview that I think are worth touching on.
Of all the candidates I spoke to, Tolu was the most reliant on his experience as opposed to explaining how he would concretely deliver on the student priorities for this year. When I asked him about policy and how he would affect change as President, he would refer to his previous roles and how they improved his leadership skills or made him financially savvy. This doesn’t explain how he would get policy through the Union bureaucracy, as well as the University’s leadership team. Though previous experience is important, I would have preferred to see more of an analysis of how he would use his role as President to make more tangible change. However, I do understand that the absence of manifestos this year has, by necessity, made this year’s candidates more reliant on their CVs than in past elections.
I was surprised when Tolu said that he would not be pushing the university for financial compensation for Covid-19 related problems students have faced. His alternative, giving students more contact hours, surely also involves the university spending money, unless paying staff doesn’t count as a university expense? Besides, pushing for more contact hours will not be compensation enough for final year students, who won’t be able to benefit from more contact hours in the coming year.
I understand that it’s naïve to expect significant compensation from the university, but that doesn’t mean the Union can’t try. Kent Union is there to demand things on behalf of students, not make excuses for the Vice Chancellor’s team.
Despite Tolu’s solid experience and clear enthusiasm for the university, I ultimately worry about his vision for Kent Union.