When I read Operation: Black Students’ Representation elections special newsletter from NUS Black Students’ Campaign President – Aaron Kiely, I was not only inspired, but also motivated to help with the campaign of encouraging *black students to put themselves forward to run for elections! I did my little part by blogging bite-size posts of Aaron’s newsletter, using the hashtag #OBSR which had 7 main pointers to why black students should run for elections.
I took on board all of the points Aaron made, however there was one in particular that shouted out at me – I labeled it #OBSR 4 – ‘I Will… Lead the Way’ #SheShouldStand! This would be my first step towards ‘Leading the way’…
NUS has launched a women’s leadership development programme which seeks to increase the number of women in elected leadership positions within the student movement – perfect timing for students’ union elections across the nation!
I applied just last week, and this afternoon – Campaign Day 2 – I met my coach Mrs Opeyemi Gbajobi – Advice and Representation Co-ordinator at London South Bank University. So not only is Yemi 10 minutes from my university (LCC), she is also very knowledgable about students unions and campaigning, as she herself has been a Sabbatical officer at Brunel University and she’s now preparing to train candidates at LSBU running for SU elections!
I sat with Yemi for an hour over a cup of coffee, filling her in on my background and demonstrating my passion for why I want to not just run – but WIN my students elections to be Vice President of London College of Communication. Yemi gave me some tips which I don’t doubt will make a huge difference to my campaign. It’s very refreshing to know I have that extra support available from someone who can be honest and unimpartial with me, because she isn’t part of my students’ union – SUARTS.
For once, I didn’t procrastinate! I grabbed an opportunity when I saw it and it’s worked in my favour! If this is how I’m feeling after just 1 meeting with my coach, imagine how knowledgable I will be after the 5th, 10th, 20th… Maybe even 50th meeting! After all, the plan is to run for a Sabbatical Officer role next year (full-time paid position)! Yemi shared some advice and her own personal experience about hastily running for SU President because it sounded cool, when she was a student. She said “it’s better to find your route (i.e a p/t volunteer position), then work your way up.”
This is just the start of an insightful journey towards finding my potential within the SU and – quite literally – running with it for leadership!
Here are 3 top tips for campaigning I’ve chosen to share from my meeting with Yemi this afternoon:
- Go where you’ve never been. Don’t just stand in the same place as other campaigners! Speak to students you’ve never met before.
- Talk about your personal experience and what you have that other candidates might not have i.e a blog or experience campaigning. Policies are one thing, but also highlight what makes you different.
- Keep an eye on the clock! Find a balance when having conversations with students and spread your time accordingly.
And one more tip just as a bonus (!) – Preserve energy for voting week! Don’t burn out before then…
NUS the ‘I Will… Lead the Way’ women’s leadership development programme provides training, coaching, sponsorship and networking opportunities for women who are intending to stand for election or who are already elected and are considering standing for the position of president in their students’ union. Find out more visit http://iwillleadtheway.org.uk/
Women make up 56.4% of HE students, 55.3% of Postgraduates, 64% of Undergraduates and 46% of FE students. However, 45% of student officers are women and only 38% are presidents. NUS recognises that there is a large disparity between women and men in leadership positions. The I Will Lead the Way programme aims to change that.
- Lone parents are most adversely affected (92% are women).
- Single women are more adversely affected than single men, couples and multifamily households by the current government’s tax and benefits changes.
I’ve received my ‘A guide for coachees‘ online booklet, and I’ve had my first motivational meeting with my coach… I think it’s fair to conclude from Day 2 of Campaign – I’m on a path towards leading the way! I Will Stand and run for Vice President of LCC! #kai4vp
She is leading the way…
Shelly Asquith is the current Students’ Union President of UAL – SUARTS. She responded to my tweets in October last year regarding representation when I didn’t see any officers on the SUARTS poster that looked like me! I’m since become more involved with SUARTS activities thanks to Shelly and her great team. Find out more about SUARTS.
Special thanks to my amazing coach Yemi, Marie Maloney from NUS and Aaron Kiely for his continued fight for representation for people like me!
*Black is political term inclusive of African, Asian, Arab, and Caribbean heritage.