In Conversation With… SU VP Humanities and Social Sciences Candidate, Gemma Lovett
Q: To begin, I really wanted to commend you for hard work in coming this far and for showing such an interest and passion for the Vice President Humanities and Social Sciences 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: I believe that I am best suited for VP Humanities and Social Sciences because I have the motivation, commitment and skills necessary to excel in the position. As current Co-President of QMBL Debate Society, I have experience in being a leader and representative for all groups of people. Being in a leadership position of QMBL Debate Society has allowed me to be considerate of all viewpoints, as well as, being an advocate for all voices–a skill that I could easily transfer over to the position of VP HSS. Being in Debate Society has also given me the opportunity to frequently interact and collaborate with other universities within London and around the UK. I believe I could use these connections to HSS’s advantage were I to be elected as VP Humanities and Social Sciences. Additionally, I always try to put 100% of my effort into any task that I do, so I know that if I were elected to be VP Humanities and Social Sciences, I would consistently be committed to performing the best work possible to help students. One thing that makes me stand-out from other candidates applying for this position is my life experiences. Growing up I lived around the world in places such as the U.S.A., Japan, Germany, and currently the UK. Living in these different countries has allowed me to experience different cultures and lifestyles firsthand, which has definitely made me an adaptable and open-minded person who values and understands people from all walks of life. I also stand-out from the other candidates as I am a dual-citizen who has both a U.S. passport and a UK passport. Although I am recognised as a home student at QMUL, I am well-aware and understanding of the struggles that International students have to go through during their time at university, thanks to being close friends with multiple international students. Thanks to many of the experiences I have faced throughout my life, I am able to empathise with QMUL students from various backgrounds, which I believe makes me stand-out from the other candidates.
Q: As the representative for student’s education, such as; teaching quality, library provision and feedback, the Vice President Humanities and Social Sciences has many matters regarding their role. The most significant being a campaigner for a better-quality education for students, for each student to reach their full potential with quality teaching. Do you believe there is a lack of relationship between student and staff at Queen Mary? If so, is it important to gain an improved relationship between staff and
A: Yes, I believe that there is a lack of relationship between staff and students at Queen Mary, especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department. One of the main issues I have is that students only meet up with their Personal Advisers at the beginning of every school year. I do not believe that is enough time for students to develop a substantial relationship with their advisers–students should meet with their advisers at least three times throughout the year with a meeting at the start of every term. After all, the purpose of an adviser is to provide ‘guidance and support’ for students throughout their time at Queen Mary. I believe that in order to improve the relationship between staff and students, we should start first with establishing a stronger support system between students and their Personal Advisers. I believe that this connection is important as it will improve students’ studies as students will no longer feel intimidated or unknown to their Personal Advisers, so they will be more willing to talk to them about personal struggles and issues they are facing throughout the school year. As a result, students will feel more comfortable and supported by staff.
Q: Majority of students will agree that mental health is a key factor in their education, one that lacks support within Queen Mary. As Vice President Humanities and Social Sciences, do you agree this is an issue? Is this something you would address within your time at this role?
A: I definitely agree that mental health is a key factor to students’ education and that there is a lack of support within Queen Mary. I personally have faced mental health issues such as anxiety and depression throughout my time at university, and just last term I had to deal with a personal trauma that nearly disrupted my studies. Outside of getting extenuating circumstances on some of my assignments, the mental health support I received was very little, and during this time I felt isolated and unsure of where to go for proper help. Although things in my life have improved now and I am in a much better place, it was more due to my own initiative and outside help. That being said, Queen Mary’s mental health support is not a lost cause and there are various ways that it can be improved. For example, one of my aims is to make Trigger Warnings compulsory for all Humanities and Social Science modules that way students can be mindful of their triggers and not have to expose themselves to their peers and tutors. Additionally, I want to have tutors to reach out to students when students apply for extenuating circumstances or have been absent for some time to check-up on their mental well-being, and give them support and advice. Mental health in students is vastly important and Queen Mary needs to be far more representative in its mental health support.
Q: A major part in becoming Vice President, and being a successful one, is understanding the needs and demands of the students. More importantly, contributing and influencing the University’s learning and teaching, both through participation in committees and other meetings with key University staff – to ensure that student interests are represented. How will you effectively address issues that are raised by students in these meetings? How will you also reassure students that these demands are met?
A: I will ensure to effectively address issues that are raised by students by having a constant dialogue between students and staff, to make sure that students’ interests are being represented. I will keep track of Humanities and Social Sciences’ students’ interests by composing department-wide surveys, having walk-in sessions where students can come and talk to me about issues, and being a constant, approachable presence around campus. As an intermediary, I will push HSS staff to meet students’ demands and be more supportive of their needs. Additionally, I will form connections with HSS staff which will allow us to work together to help assist students’ interests, and show that we want them to get the most out of their degree and their time at Queen Mary. Additionally, I will ensure transparency in the position that way students can see how their demands are being met that way they can feel assured that I am representing them in the best way possible.
Q: As with any job, the role of Vice President Humanities and Social Sciences role 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?
A: I will reassure students that I will remain motivated in the role and continuously represent by being an active presence around campus at all times. Being a person that all Humanities and Social Sciences’ students can recognise and easily talk to will indicate to students that I am committed and motivated in my role as VP Humanities and Social Sciences. As previously mentioned, I would also ensure transparency in my position that way students can be aware of everything I am doing, such as implementing policies and meeting their demands; this transparency will also allow them to reach out to me if they feel that they are dissatisfied that way I can discuss with them what I can improve and do better to be fully representative. Personally, I push myself to reach my highest standard so I do not think students will find me unmotivated in the slightest, because I hate letting people and myself down. I do have experience with being committed and motivated from my time as being Co-President of Debate Society, as well as, leadership roles I had back in high school. My fellow committee members have been my well-aware of my commitment and drive, and there have been many instances where I have taken initiative in solving problems within the society, and been an overall positive representative. Therefore, I believe I will have no issues in staying motivated and showing students that I have the drive and passion
necessary for this SU position.
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 fruit, what would you be?
A: This is easily the hardest question of this interview, as I take my fruits very seriously! I took a Buzzfeed personality quiz to see which fruit I was (they REALLY do have personality quizzes for everything) and my final result was raspberry, which I will gladly take. Raspberries are my favourite fruit, and I feel that they are most representative of me as they are small, yet full of flavor and health benefits. I believe that despite my small stature, I am full of character and have a lot of good qualities, plus I’m versatile and can fit into any setting just like how raspberries can go with any dessert!
The manifestos of all the VP HSS candidates can be found here: https://www.qmsu.org/elections/vphss/