Interview: Campbell Anderson, candidate for director of events and services

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Photo: Maria Faciolince

The director of events and services is responsible for managing student input regarding bar and entertainment services at the Union, and is involved in the strategic planning of the Association’s events programme, which includes important events like Freshers’ Week and the Graduation Ball.

Read our analysis of Mr Anderson’s manifesto here.

Why do you want the role of DoES?

I think that I have the personal experience and, given my four years working in the Ents crew, I feel like I have the most experience and am someone who knows how the Union works, and how to get the most out of our venues.

Why do you think that the position of DoES is so contested?

I think it’s probably because it’s a position that is relatively easy to know what it does, there’s the assumption that every year DoSDA has to explain what it does; events and services is relatively straight-forward. President is the traditionally really popular one, I’d guess because redevelopment is in the spotlight, and how we’re going to deal with the loss of Venue 1, people think they’re going to be the candidates that get more ideas.

Why do you think that you have what it takes?

Again, I think it’s because of my four year experience: I’ve organised everything from Bops to stage shows. For 2012-2013, I was the Freshers’ Week co-ordinator. I already know exactly how it works, so I can be more creative, I know the framework, I know what we’ve tried: what works and what could be improved upon.

Do you have any other commitments outside of Ents and, if so, how might they be useful to the role of DoES?

Yeah, I’d say that Ents is most… we were trying to work it out [how much time he spends with Ents] for the campaign. We settled on about 1,000 hours – it’s probably been a lot more than that, but we decided that over the last four years, it’s been at least 1,000 hours.

DoES is a sabbatical position where you pretty much have to hit the ground running, because Freshers’ Week is two months away from the date of starting the position, so you can’t really spend the first few weeks getting to know how the Union works. Having the experience, the contacts, the know-how will cut down that acclimatisation time.

What priorities are in your manifesto?

To ensure that student events can even go ahead despite the loss of Venue 1 in semester two. We’ll be getting new bar space on top of that, but my priority is to make sure that big events and small events – both RAG Week and society events – still have venue space throughout the year.

Specifically for RAG Week, I’ve been talking to the charities people and one possible plan is to move some of the bigger events to semester one, so we can still use Venue 1, and then hold some of the smaller events in the traditional slot. RAG Week’s been tremendously successful this year, and we don’t want them to lose momentum – they make good money, so we need to safeguard that, basically.

Other policies would be to try and improve advertising in the Union. It feels like we’re putting a lot of effort into events, and they’re just not getting out there.

What more specifically do you think could be done in the area of the Union’s advertising of events?

Once the ground floor redevelopment stuff has reopened, we’ll have a lot more street-facing space. I plan to use that space to get our events out there. One of the biggest things that hit us this year was the loss of the poster boards in front of the Union. All of the advertising is currently through social media, which the Union isn’t fantastic on, or passing a poster in the street, which is difficult since we’ve lost the poster boards. You now have to get it on social media or a poster board inside the Union itself.

How would you develop the Union’s social media strategy?

We were looking back on the Union’s main page, just to do some fact-finding, and we discovered that only about 15 events since the start of the year have had Facebook events, which if you aren’t getting it out there, how are you going to advertise it? Just small things like that, making sure that every event that we do has advertising, not just a random status on Friday night.

How would you describe your other policies?

Well, standard DoES policy: keep the bars as cheap as possible. I think that’s important enough that it comes up every year. The DoES doesn’t control prices, but they are the student advocate, and I think it’s important to do, because it gets more people in. We are the cheapest place to get a drink here.

What do you think of Dan Palmer’s performance in the job of DoES?

I think he’s done well under difficult circumstances. The rolling Saturday nights have been a great edition, and I will be implementing that in a slightly different format: I plan to do that once a fortnight, rather than once a month thing. But I really like that there is variety, and that there is something for everyone.

I also like that he managed to get the second most profitable Freshers’ Week – I should say, second most successful Freshers’ Week – on record, despite the Union looking like a building site. You can’t say fairer than that, basically.

The Saint has found that one of the issues important to students is the introduction of ‘big name’ acts. What could you do to ensure that such big names come to St Andrews?

I think we have to team up with other unions in Scotland – we’ve done this in the past to share the financial risk. We’ve talked to Dundee and Edinburgh to see if they’re interested. It tends to work better for DJ sets, but then they get the act from, say 11-12, and we get them from 12.30 – 1.30. It basically means that they don’t have to spend as much money.

Anything else to add?

Again, improving the advertising. We really need to get that sorted: event attendance is relatively low this semester and it’s, I mean, you may not want to drink in a building site, but there must be more that we can do to fix this. Aside from that…

What are your strengths and weaknesses, compared to the other candidates?

A definite strength is my experience. I know how the building works already, I can hit the ground running. Weaknesses, and I’ll be honest, I’m probably not as personable. I’d definitely say I’m more of a manager than a comedian. However, you have to be able to talk to someone, but you don’t need to particularly make them laugh.

I think I’m the best man for the job. Vote for the candidate with the most experience: Cam can!

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