Interview: Stuart Owen, candidate for AU President

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Stuart Owen (2)

Read Stuart’s manifesto.

How do you think the creation of an AU Charities Officer would be implemented and how would it benefit clubs directly?

I’ve spent two years on club committees in which time we’ve received two, maybe three, emails from the AU about anything to do with charities or help with charity events. The Athletic Union are associated with the University and not the Students’ Association – therefore the current Charities Committee [a Union sub-committee] find it difficult to offer any help or grants if clubs want to put on charity events. I have however spoken to Kelsey Gold, the Charities Convenor, and she said that they’ve had a lot of problems. They want to be helpful to clubs, but it’s difficult, because they have to go through the Athletic Union, and clubs don’t really know the level of support that they can provide, from money bags and collection tins to the vast amounts of experience they have – they have 40 or 50 people on their entire committee, who can offer help to specific clubs. It’s a vastly untapped resource; the hardest thing for clubs is starting new events, particularly for small clubs, who might originally be put off because they don’t have the man-power to run the events. An AU Executive Charities Officer can help bridge the gap between clubs and the Charities Committee.

You say in your manifesto that you want to start a presidential blog – this policy is as old as the hills, how are you going to publicise it and make it a helpful for clubs?

It’s important to have a certain level of transparency between the AU and sports clubs. Having spoken to SS, Director of the DSE, and he says that it’s the nature of clubs that they only contact the AU to complain about things, and they don’t necessarily realise that there are a lot of problems which have been solved already. One thing I think Emily Griffiths has done quite poorly this year is show people what she has achieved, and she has achieved a lot, she just hasn’t told us about it. A presidential blog coming right the top, going right to the bottom will be hugely beneficial for clubs.

Now talk me through your plans to improve alumni links.

The current redevelopment plans are excellent, the money for which has been confirmed by the University and raised by the AU. We’re going to get a bigger sports hall, a bigger and better gym, so now is the time to start holding onto our graduating members, and saying that sport is only going to improve at this University. Having been on the first team of badminton for 4 years, I;ve been to almost every University in Scotland and plenty of English ones too, and I can say fairly confidently that we are one of the poorest-equipped Universities when it comes to sport. Improving alumni links will be a long-term project, but if we start doing it now, once we have redeveloped, we’re going to need new equipment, and to maintain the new level of the Sports Centre. If we can create a list of alumni which clubs can access, and make contact with them, asking them to come along see how we’re doing, and give them advice, time, experience, or even sponsorship.

Where do you stand on the AU Exec changes?

I am completely against the de-democratisation of the Athletic Union. That is why one of my key policies is to introduce a Club Captains’ Forum as a level of insurance that clubs will still have a say on the AU Executive Committee. It’s a difficult one to campaign on because it’s unclear what power I will have, if elected, over these changes. I don’t want to make my entire campaign all about it, but I do have a lot of views on it, and I think there’s a lot of anger among the clubs that things haven’t been done in the most open and honest way. Clubs should have been consulted at an earlier stage, and other options should have been considered apart from paying and appointing interns. My main concern is how beneficial the money being spent is. It’s going to be between £7500 and £10000, and I can’t see how that’s going to be money well-spent, and I don’t want to lose anybody who would have wanted to volunteer in the AU; I want to give people the opportunity to get involved in a voluntary capacity. That is something I think we will lose out on if we start appointing interns. I don’t think I would have power to stop these changes. I really hope that I would have a strong voice that would be heeded if elected – I’m pro-democracy in general.

 

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