Jack Carr has been School President of History throughout this academic year and so understands how the system of academic representation works. This, along with his experience with the University’s student services, will help him in the role of Director of Representation if successful.
Education and representation
Mr Carr seems determined to bring students’ concerns about the University’s long term strategic plan to the fore and stand up for students whose lives are affected by circumstances out with their control.
One of his major promises is to respond to all emails within forty-eight hours. Though this is a reasonable proposal, The Saint worries that for some students this simply may be too long to wait.
Mr Carr highlights the upcoming library redevelopment in his manifesto, showing an encouraging awareness of what is happening within the University. In order to offset concerns about study spaces during this redevelopment, Mr Carr says: “I would continue to seek unused spaces in academic schools that could be better used as alternative study spaces.” This proposal would certainly help to solve the problem but it remains to be seen if this will be feasible, with no specifics given about what spaces could be used or how much this would cost.
Mr Carr also makes several points which, though important, are vague. Examples are his his aims to protect small class sizes and increase representation for general and evening degree studetns, giving no solid ideas on how to do this. Moreover, he wants to “increase celebrations of women and minorities in their respective academic field” but gives no specific proposals of what this “celebration” would entail.
Mr Carr’s main proposal states that he would like to incentivize democracy. He wants to ensure that school presidents write end of semester reports in order to increase transparency for the students they are representing. This sounds like a sensible policy and will help students to better understand the system of academic representation.
He would like subcommittees and societies to hold their EGMs in September. This is a good idea as it would make it easier for first years to get involved. However, this is not really in the DoRep’s remit (it seems more like a DoSDA policy) and it would still be for individual societies to decide whether to comply.
He also pledges to continue the work done to remove the controversial clause 19 from the rectorial elections rules – which led to Catherine Stihler being appointed without an election – and “promoting the role of rector and her assessor.” Although important, these ideas are once again not very original or innovative.
Welfare and Equality
The main focus of Mr Carr in this area is to “address the causes of serious welfare issues, not just the symptoms.”
Mr Carr wants to review and standardize all schools’ extenuating circumstances policies. He argues this would reduce the stress on students who suffer from physical and mental health problems saying: “I would seek to change a system which often piles the burden of immense worry and uncertainty upon the students who are in the least able position to handle it.” The Saint feels this policy could really help those in need.
Working to make sure that the voice of commuting students is heard is another key point raised in Mr Carr’s manifesto. He advocates working with the Townsend and postgraduate societies to better integrate commuting students into St Andrews life and says he will push for “improvement in the commuter room facilities as it is currently undersized to deal with an increasing commuter population, in part caused by the lack of accommodation within the town.”
Another policy that Mr Carr has advocates is the promotion of an inclusive community for students returning from a leave of absence through setting up peer support groups. The Saint feels that although this move would provide vital support, this policy may do better if accompanied by a push to increase awareness and understanding of leaves of absence amongst the general student body.
Despite highlighting doing more for gender equality and ethnic diversity as a central concern, Mr Carr’s manifesto says very little about how he would tackle these problems. As this is one of the main roles of the DoRep, such proposals are sorely missing.
The Saint’s assessment
Though Mr Carr’s manifesto raises many pressing issues, it is often vague on how exactly he will address these problems. Overall, however, he has presented good ideas which are sure to help those who need it.