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Meet Talhah Atcha – QMSU Presidential candidate

Why are you running?

On and off I’ve worked for the Union as student staff for seven years. For five years I’ve been involved as societies officer and winning student councillor of the year, I’ve been a course rep and I’ve started and helped run a few societies too. All of these things have given me a unique insight that no other student has, one that’s shown me how the Union really works and who does what inside the University. As such, I feel I’m in a position where I can make real change even from before my term starts if I have the backing of my fellow students to do so. I am passionate about student voice and helping everybody around me, so passionate that I’ve been involved with the Union for this long and I’m still going because I believe it can make a real difference for students. Things have gotten better since I’ve returned as a student but I know I can take the Union to a height it has never reached before.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I’m a very organised person and so I usually have a plan with a step-by-step breakdown of how I want things to be done, as such it makes it easy for people to follow when I delegate tasks to them. At the same time I feel I’m quite good at explaining things and helping people to understand what I want. I like to know what other people around me think and so I change my ideas based on the feedback I receive and I’m quite welcoming of criticism.

I work well under pressure (or so I’d like to think) and I quite often get told that I have a very calm manner. I’m not sure I have a unique leadership style but I definitely have experience leading and I hope to bring this to good use next year if I win.

What do you see as the biggest challenges currently facing the Students’ Union or Queen Mary more broadly?

One of the biggest issues I’ve found is student engagement. Both the University and the Union have a difficult time reaching out to students. From the Union side of things, I want to change that by having more messages from the Union being from students, for students. As well as that, I also want a heavier physical presence of the Union officers on campus and I hope to do that by blocking out an afternoon a week with all the sabbs where we can engage with students.

On the University side, I want to empower course reps a lot more. They need a much higher standard of training and I want to talk to the management team of every school, one at a time if I have to, to get them to invite their course reps to any and all meetings that they hold. I also want the course reps to know that for any problems they encounter, the Union will be there to help them. By engaging course reps, I believe we can get the University to engage with it’s students needs more too.

If you could invite 5 people, dead or alive to a dinner party, who would you invite?

Whilst I could go for someone inspiring or famous the honest answer is; I would invite my 4 grandparents. Apart from one of them, the others all died before I was born or whilst I was still a baby, before I got the chance to know them and there’s no one else I’d rather get to know then them. As for my fifth option, it would have to be Terry Pratchett. It’s always nice to come home from a long day’s work and read one of his books to relax and unwind.

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