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In Conversation With… SU VP Communities Candidate, Tiana Dinard-Samuel

Q: To begin, I really wanted to commend you for hard work in coming this far and for showing such interest and passion for the Vice President Communities role. As you already know, many other candidates are applying for this role, but only one will be elected. Can you tell us why you believe you are best suited for this role, and what you can bring that is different to other candidates?

A: What makes me suited for the role is a combination of my passion, attitude and experience. I’ve been passionate about injustice for most of my life and I have a heart for those who are often overlooked in society and I think this VP role particularly will allow me to elevate and give a voice to those groups. Once I commit to something, I can be very focussed and that applies to the responsibility of this role. Also, since working at the Students’ Union as an intern, I feel I understand more not only about what’s at work behind the scenes but also what’s at stake – students’ experience at uni is so important! For sure, a vice president and an intern are roles on completely different levels, but I would welcome the challenge and try my best. All I want to do is a good job.

Q: As Vice President Communities, you would be the lead voice in developing and implementing Students’ Union policies regarding liberation and initiatives for students. Are there any new fundamental ideas you have proposed for this, and will you continue to retain some of the former policies of the role or completely renew them?

A: I’m very committed to maintaining and developing the liberation month campaigns we do and making sure each of them run smoothly and fulfil what students want from it. If elected I’d also be looking at expanding the groups we represent, working closely with perhaps cultural societies to ensure they feel represented and celebrated in the students’ union. I’m also interested in lobbying the university to revaluate the lack of BAME staff since we’re such a diverse university and QM proudly hails this figure of over 160 nationalities and yet the faculty don’t reflect that. Since it’s a new role, I’d be very open to hear students’ suggestions on how they want the role to look in a way that best serves them!

Q: As with any job, the role of Vice President Communities is one filled with commitments, dedication, passion and drive. How will you reassure students that you will remain motivated in your role; continuously representing the student body to your highest standard and always striving to implement new policies? Do you have any past experience in this field?

A: I don’t have exact past experience for a role like this, but I know I can take the experience I do have and apply it here the best I can. I’ve been part of a society committee and I’ve done a lot of different types of volunteering since before I even came to university. At the end of the day what I’m super passionate about is helping people. There’s no point in having this role if you’re not going to listen to students and so that will be my main priority and will shape the VP I’d become – students would become my motivation and inspiration.

Q: A major part in becoming Vice President, and being a successful one, is understanding the needs and demands of the students. How will you consult and listen effectively to students in representing their views and acting on issues that affect them?

A: I plan on starting Communities’ drop-in sessions where students from whichever community background be it liberation groups like the LGBT+ community groups, or other demographics such as international students can meet with me as VP and share their ideas and concerns based on their experience at QM and Barts. This interaction can be used to shape policy and make sure the voice of the student’s is fed directly into the Union. Check out my manifesto to see what else I have planned!

Q: In light of the recent UCU Industrial Action, and the upcoming strikes over the next period of weeks, more specifically regarding unequal pay. What is your stance on this issue? Are these issues something you believe are related to the students as part of Queen Mary University?

A: The strikes are a difficult subject because on the one hand I understand the perspective of staff – gender and BAME wage gaps are unacceptable as everyone has the right to be paid fairly. However, as a student I’ve felt the negative effects of missing out on teaching first-hand for two years now and not only does it diminish the quality of our learning + experience here, it makes students feel like we don’t matter to the university. Even though I support the basis of the strikes I would want to have conversations with the university to ensure that it doesn’t affect students as much and try to negotiate some kind of compensation.

Q:  Thank you so much for taking your time in answering this interview, as a way to end these questions with some humour and to understand the real you. If you could be a biscuit, what baked good would you be?

A: Hmmm I’d say I’d be a chocolate finger just because they’re my fave and they’re so good whatever mood you’re in!

The manifestos of all the VP communities candidates can be found here: https://www.qmsu.org/elections/vpcommunities/

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