Read our interview with Ms West here.
As the current gender equality officer on the SRC, Ali West is experienced in representing student views within the Union. She is also a founding member of the Fellowship of St Andrews and says she is dedicated to bringing about changes which make for a fairer St Andrews.
Ms West promises to have several office hours per week, to respond to any enquiry within 24 hours and to reach out to halls through senior students. She hopes to connect and cooperate with other unions on best practices and to find support for external campaigns such as those against fee hikes and the Immigration Bill.
On top of this, she is planning a video and campaign to make the Association more transparent. She also wants to better publicise the SRC’s open forum at meetings and create a mid-year report at the end of semester one to ensure accountability. Finally, as a member of the University Court, she would encourage positive discourse and continuity in campaigning on longer-term issues.
Publicity and accountability form the backbone of these pledges, and Ms West’s experience as a Fellow and SRC officer suggest she would take this seriously.
Study space is also important to Ms West, and she hopes to open up spaces away from the main library, especially during exams and weekends by working with Estates and the University. Working towards a reinstatement of Reading Week during semester one is also one of her pledges, though Ms West notably does not promise that Reading Week will return during her time as DoRep; she points out that the calendar decisions for 2014-15 will be made before she would assume her position. Both Teddy Woodhouse and his predecessor Amanda Litherland have made promises about reading week before but the University still has not committed to any sort of break in the first semester. Ms West will also campaign for the exam timetable to be released earlier so that international students can book cheaper flights.
Additionally, she plans to make use of the school presidents as a team to ensure differences between departments do not translate into unfairness. She hopes to make them report to the Association councils and will encourage them to take a more active role in the Union. Finally, Ms West would like to create a volunteer-based, peer-assisted learning system across all schools.
These are several time-consuming projects, which will require dedication and commitment, so it will be interesting to see which ones will be considered a priority for students at St Andrews.
Gender equality, although finding itself in last place on Ms West’s manifesto, is a clear priority. Ms West has plans for a gender equality subcommittee at the Union, which would extend beyond activities and into representation, and in a similar way to LGBT would include all students as members. This subcommittee would “form a network for women to support each other” and attempt to address problems such as the dearth of women in student politics. Regarding mental health, Ms West aims to ensure that issues are well-publicised and would create a webpage listing different organisations and remits.
Ms West may need to promise more regarding mental health in St Andrews to win votes. Additionally, although she is very experienced in matters of gender equality, she could perhaps elaborate more on the powers of the gender equality subcommittee and why this would be a necessary expansion of the SRC.