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In Conversation With… SU Presidential Candidate, Ashra Shrestha

Q: First of all, congratulations for putting yourself out there for the role of QMSU President! There are doubtless plenty of students who have considered nominating themselves, but it takes real strength of character to push past the initial temptation to leave it to someone else and take that responsibility into your own hands. Can you tell us about what made you decide that you were going to run as a presidential candidate?

A: I am running for Students’ Union President because I have been able to further understand the issues students encounter through my role as a Student Council member, and I believe I have the skills, experience and determination to make changes that students want to see. I would like to continue improving our university experience and ensuring a more equal and inclusive environment where all students are happy and can flourish.

Q: The QMSU website describes the President as “the figurehead of the Students’ Union”, someone who “represents and campaigns on matters relating directly to the education and welfare of students across Queen Mary”. What do you think is an issue that has been sorely unaddressed by former SU representatives, and what do you propose to do in order to change it?

A: I feel opportunities and employability have been overlooked by former representatives. To address this, I will host networking events to help students develop professional connections. I will also organise more student-led events to aid personal development, in addition to organising more social events  that are free to attend and accessible to all!

Q: In recent years, there has been a climate of apathy amongst QMUL students towards the Students’ Union elections. Last year saw a mere 13% of students vote. Tell us about why you believe students should take more interest in the SU elections, and why engaging with your SU representatives is important.

A: Students should pay more attention to the Students’ Union and the elections because elected representatives discuss motions and approve policies that shape our university experience. Student representatives exist to listen to and voice students’ interest and concerns, so it is important to vote for candidates who you feel will listen and best represent you. It is also important to stay engaged with elected representatives so that they are aware of the changes you want to see.

Students’ disengagement with the Students’ Union and the university in general must be addressed. Many do not even know about the Students’ Union, so raising awareness about it will be the first step in addressing this. I will work on making the Students’ Union as transparent as possible by regularly updating students about how exactly they are being represented. I will also inform students about what is happening and how they can be involved to make the most of their time at university.

Q: Producing a manifesto is a crucial task for an aspiring SU President and they often require hours of careful deliberation. But, for those of us sitting in the Ground Café in our rushed one-hour lunch break and our brains scattered from a tedious lecture, how would you condense your policies down into a quick and direct sentence to a friend when time is of the essence?

A: My manifesto condensed into one sentence would be: As President, I will prioritise student welfare and students’ academic success while creating enriching opportunities, in addition to raising awareness of existing ones to aid personal development and increase employability.

Q: The SU President is inevitably someone that incoming new students will look up to as an example of how to make the most of QMUL. If you could go back in time and start first year all over again, what would you do to make the most of your time here before graduation? For example, would you join a different society that you never previously got the chance to try out?

A: If I could go back and start first year all over again, I would look out for and take more advantage of opportunities. I would join fitness and dance societies too because it is a great way to stay fit and meet new people!

Q: Well done for making it through to the end! We’re going to wrap things up with something a little more informal to get to know more about who you are as an individual, SU President or not. If you were an animated film or television character, who would you be and why?

A: I would be the Fairy Godmother because I would have magical powers and can make people happy!

You can find the manifestos of all the presidential candidates here:

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