The OxStu interviews the OUSU presidential candidates ahead of the university-wide elections in 6th week.
Alex Bartram (Balliol)
“Students think that the Student Union doesn’t do anything directly for them, and that’s why I’m running. I want to change that,” exclaims Balliol’s JCR President and OUSU presidential candidate Alex Bartram.
Bartram is happy to go on the attack against other slates. “I think the other campaigns are OUSU trying to fix OUSU through OUSU,” he claims.
In a thinly-veiled reference to Jane4Change’s Labour-dominated campaign team, Bartram notes: “I have candidates from the Conservatives, I have candidates from the Lib Dems, I have candidates from Labour and I have candidates who aren’t aligned with a particular political party.”
His slate also stands out for being the only one to include a VP Women candidate: “I think women’s issues are incredibly important,” he explains. “Trish would be fantastic to be involved in the Student Union.”
The ‘Team Alex’ campaign is wide-ranging, but one of their priorities is improving provision for sport. “There are a huge amount of people in the University who do sports, and a lot of them think that sport is nothing do to with OUSU. I think it should have done more to reach out.”
Jane Cahill (Queen’s)
Jane Cahill, formerly JCR President at Queen’s, begins the interview by stressing the personal reasons she seeks the presidency: “Seeing my friends go through certain experiences, as well as teaching for a charity in state schools, made me aware of many of the problems that students face coming here.”
She then goes on to flag her key policy: “A proper student union building is the next step – I know that people say that the colleges are sufficient, but Durham has colleges, and they still have a proper student centre.”
“[It would] provide a space for clubs and societies to meet; for childcare; for student parents. It would allow students from all over the university to meet, to provide peer support that’s lacking when students feel isolated in their colleges.”
“I have a bit of a philosophical difference from the other candidates,” Cahill claims, as she lays out her distinctive approach to governance. “I don’t want to win on simple issues by offering simple services and solutions that change year-on-year. We need to first raise awareness of issues before presenting them to the university, so they know and we know where we stand on problems.”
Nathan Akehurst (Lincoln)
Akehurst is at his most enthusiastic when diagnosing the problems he perceives in Oxford’s student political scene. “I’m tired of the candidates who run their campaigns on a personality basis. Student politics shouldn’t be about plastering your face everywhere,” the Lincoln Historian exclaims.
Akehurst then explains that his ‘ReclaimOUSU’ slate is a reaction against the “faintly veiled careerism” in student politics: “People are using OUSU as a jump point to getting jobs in think-tanks and as MPs.”
Akehurst’s flagship idea is a solution to the problem that “most students can’t vote on their union’s policy” outside of election-time. He would hold an annual general assembly at the end of Hilary term in Exam Schools to act as the Student Union’s ‘sovereign body’, setting out its policies for the year.
As for specific policies, Akehurst is quick to refer to the three ‘buzzwords’ binding his team together: ambition, democracy and inclusiveness. He seeks “ action on the cost of living” and and the abolition of fines as a form of student punishment.
Akehurst, after praising current OUSU President Tom Rutland’s efforts on this term’s £16k tuition fee debate, is critical of the decision to “spend £40,000 of student money per year” on OUSU’s appointment of a communications officer.
Louis Trup (Brasenose)
The first thing to note about this off-base candidate and top Oxford clubber is that he wishes to be referred to as “L.J”. He is, as always, wearing flip flops – he tells me his go-to pair this term are from Zoo-Marine in Portugal (it reminds him of warmth).
Just as our interview is getting underway, L.J. receives a Facebook friend request from current OUSU president Rutland. He is visibly chuffed.
We then start chatting about L.J.’s favourite topic: the Oxford monorail. After feedback from his supporters, L.J tells me that he wants every college and PPH will be within two minutes of a monorail station.
Before long, we are talking inspiration.L.J. claims he was prompted to seek election after watching an aerobics video on YouTube in which dancers are clad in dashing blue lycra. This artistic influence made him determined to use crayon for his manifesto.
We are soon on to the content of the manifesto itself, and L.J.’s well-publicised plan to end Fifth Week and bring world peace: “With no 5th week, there will be no 5th week blues, and so no wars.”
L.J. then lists new policies: Flip Flop Fudraising “4 da monorail charity” (details unclear) and the purchase of Arzoo and At Thai for the sole purpose of crewdates.
L.J. ends by stressing that he’s more than happy to chat about his campaign outside office hours: Cellar Monday, Camera Tuesday, Parkend Wednesday, Bridge Thursday, Wahoo Friday, and “probz Babylove at some point.”