Manifesto analysis: Andrew Van Kralingen, candidate for AU president

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Photo: Maria Faciolince
Photo: Maria Faciolince
Photo: Maria Faciolince

Read our interview with Mr Van Kralingen here.

Anyone who knows Andrew Van Kralingen, VK to his friends, knows that one of his great assets is his charisma and eminent likeability. It is often difficult for candidates like this to squeeze that character into a manifesto, while also dealing with the very important business of actual policies. It is, in the end, the black-and-white which will truly decide the vote.

Mr Van Kralingen’s experience is drawn from his time as president of the Boat Club, a role with more logistical issues than most considering St Andrews has no river. He rightly cites this as proof of his abilities as a leader, an administrator and an organiser, all things crucial to being an effective AU president.

His manifesto focusses on five main areas, the first of which is budget transparency. He wants everyone to be able to see exactly how the Athletic Union spends its money; as a sub-section of the University it is obliged to be open and honest about its finances, but it is refreshing to see a candidate with renewed commitment to that. He moves on to academic flexibility, which is a very bold strategy, as it centres on negotiating things like deadlines with individual schools.

Very sensibly, he also wants to standardise the way the University legislates for sports clubs with regard to academic commitments, so that students are able to fully participate in both sides of their life. However, he will find it tough going against academic staff, and it may be an unrealistic aim.

Every AU president in history has campaigned on alumni relations, and Mr Van Kralingen is no different. He claims to have created a strong alumni network in his own role within the Boat Club, and wants to implement an AU-wide database, something Jess Walker also mooted but on which progress appears to be limited, despite the new AU interns. Mr Van Kralingen’s student forum is also oddly reminiscent of Jess’s captains’ forum, so I’m afraid that this concept of interaction with the student body in a forum-style system is nothing revolutionary or even new.

Finally, Andrew falls into the trap of buzzwords – it happens to the best of us – by closing with “widening access”. Only Freddie Fforde can even begin to pretend to know what this means, but Andrew has a fine stab at giving it some meaning. His closing remark on this topic may have greater credence than he gives it, as he wants to “organise regular opportunities for students without club membership to participate in sporting activities”. This could be a real goer, although it is very similar to the village fete that is ‘give it a go day’; if Mr Van Kralingen can find a way to make this less gimmicky and more attractive to the wider student body then he may be onto a winner.

The overwhelming theme of the manifesto is that Mr Van Kralingen truly understands the needs of sports clubs, and the role of AU president. The latter is surprisingly undervalued, as we have now had two consecutive presidents who have come into the role with little or no idea what they can actually do with their job. Should Mr Van Kralingen be elected, he will at least have some idea of what to do on day one.

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