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In Conversation With… SU VP Science and Engineering Candidate, Aphrodite Liddington

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 Science and Engineering 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: Honestly, I had a really difficult time in uni. I feel like life threw all its curveballs at me at once. Due to these personal issues I’ve had to utilise help from all corners of QM, I know how the systems work and I’ve learnt what pros and cons they both present. I think this is what makes me different to other candidates; some know that issues are present but I’ve lived them, I know how they work and I know how to fix them.

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 think the best way to address issues raised by students is to simply listen. I’ve already had meetings with academics to assess a realistic middle ground by which we can work on improving elements in our faculty in the most achievable way. I plan on tackling issues at the root of their cause which is why listening is such a key skill that many claim to have, but few do. When I applied for this role the last thing I wanted was for students and lecturers to view me as disingenuous. I didn’t want to be the type of leader to preach the world but achieve nothing. Truly understanding the issues at hand and assessing how to solve them at their foundations, for me is the most effective way to help all of the students here. Listen, Respond, Take Action.

Q: As with any job, the role of Vice President Science and Engineering 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: It’s not in my nature to be passive – just ask my secondary school teachers. I used to get into disagreements about things I found unfair and ended up getting into trouble. I knew the skill to speak up would become useful today and I think I found my calling – hello, here I am. Despite all the issues I’ve faced due to uni and also external problems I’ve diligently worked through them all. I want to make sure no one has to juggle problems in our faculty as well as all the challenging elements attaining a degree already has. It’s inevitable that some students will experience crises, unfortunately that is not in my control, but I can control how we help them through. I have had some experience in leadership roles; I was the winning House Captain in my school as well as an ambassador for Cognita schools. I work as an SBCS ambassador and at the Students Union and have attempted to change health policies regarding neglected tropical diseases at The STEM Telegraph Awards and as a presenter at The IBM Women’s Conference.

Q: As Vice President, you would be the lead voice in developing and implementing Students’ Union policies regarding the quality of education and faculty matters. 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’ll definitely be retaining some of the policies as they need to be in the limelight and currently, I feel like students are unaware of them (I know I was pretty clueless in first year!). I’d like to professionally establish the Athena SWAN charter scheme to encourage women in science to pursue further academic studies. Improving the Q-Review system already in place would be amazing, we need full recordings of our lectures and them to be released more quickly. I have a plethora of new policies I want to implement (check out my manifesto on Instagram @aphrodite_vpse) these include: including some modules with a decrease in exam-to-coursework ratio as it is a more equitable way of reviewing intelligence and grading individuals. I also want to improve teacher training for lecturers as this would have a great domino effect on the retention of students in classes and the overall grades we achieve.

Q: As the representor for student’s education, such as; teaching quality, library provision and feedback, the Vice President Science and Engineering 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 student?

A: I think this can only really be assessed on a case-by-case basis. I have better relationships with some lecturers than I do others. I work at the SU so I know the staff more intimately, the majority of the students won’t. I definitely think it is important to improve these relationships. If you have ever been to Spoons and chatted with any of your lecturers, you realise very quickly that they care about their students and the majority of our problems are mutual and overlap. Using the platform, the SU has provided I really want to raise concerns and praise positive change that has occurred in our faculty. Mostly I want to keep my promises of helping students understand more in detail about how S & E’s management works and enforce realistic changes to improve students’ lives.

Q: Thank you so much for taking your time in answering this interview, as a way to end these questions with some humor and to understand the real you. If a zombie apocalypse occurred, what top three things would you scavenge first?

A: Machete-wielding ladies, potatoes and a truck.

The manifestos for all the VP S&E candidates can be found here: https://www.qmsu.org/elections/vpse/

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