Joseph Tantillo admits that the Union is not without its faults. It can be slow, inefficient and unwieldy. However, he is quick to add, his own blend of passion and hard work is the refreshing remedy to a Union often perceived as out of touch with its student body. The Union “transcended all of its traditional roles and it became my home,” he says. Between his roles as Association Chair, Returning Officer on the Societies Committee and Charitable Development Convener, Mr Tantillo has built up plenty of experience with the Union which he hopes will help him win the position of Director of Representation.
Mr Tantillo claims sports players are afforded some leeway when negotiating deadlines and wants to extend the same benefit to those involved in societies, theatre and volunteering roles. “I believe it would be unfair not to extend this option to more students,” he says. This is Mr Tantillo’s flagship policy and one that will chime with students battling to balance the demands of academic work and extracurricular activities. How far this option will extend is less clear however. Will only Union-affiliated students be afforded this benefit? Will students have to prove their curricular activity is worthy of a deadline extension? This policy will no doubt prove a popular proposal but its details need fleshing out.
A perennial thorn in the side of previous DoReps, Mr Tantillo’s solution to the paucity of study space is to provide additional space for individual departments. In the long term, Mr Tantillo proposes a second library and five-year plan on the expansion of study spaces.
Mr Tantillo plans to shake-up the student-advisor relationship, developing it from a formal “30 seconds” affair to one in which you feel comfortable about approaching your advisor for help when you need it. Mr Tantillo has latched onto the coattails of previous DoReps, like Amanda Litherland, who have sought to beef up academic support for students. The feasibility of this policy is questionable and will require considered collaboration with the University.
Mr Tantillo’s year group will be the only ones to recall the heady days of reading week. Before it disappears entirely into the ether, however, he will look to secure a period of time in semester one for a temporary hiatus on coursework. “A high-intensity workload with no break can be damaging to students mental health and wellbeing,” he says. Yet every DoRep since reading week was abolished has tried and failed to reinstate it or something similar. It remains to be seen whether this policy realizable or whether reading week consigned to be a distant memory.
A cornerstone of former DoRep Teddy Wodehouse’s time in office, Mr Tantillo hopes to expand mental health first aid training for students whose roles put them in contact with large numbers of students. This is a sensible policy that should win the support of many voters. Yet Mr Tantillo intends to go one step further and assign all first year students a services counsellor. In theory this is a very attractive policy but it is unclear if it is a practicable one.
Mr Tantillo vows to hack away the inefficiency that has blighted the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). Despite pledging to reform the body, make it more inclusive and more productive, Mr Tantillo has not entered into detail about how he will reduce the bureaucracy that afflicts the SRC.
Mr Tantillo proposes pushing the University Court to include more students. This is a novel policy that would bolster student representation at the University’s highest level. Slightly less ambitious is Mr Tantillo’s mawkishly titled ‘Students Are Awesome’ campaign. Seemingly along the same lines as the Principal’s Medal, Mr Tantillo aims to “recognize students who go above and beyond in their contribution to student lives and the St Andrews community.”
The Saint’s assessment
Joseph Tantillo is a serious candidate with a serious manifesto. Clear and wide-reaching, Mr Tantillo’s proposal encompasses a vast array of policies. His experience and ambition are to be commended along with his evident passion for the University and the Union. Yet such is his ambition that a clutch of his policies lack the fine detail needed. Mr Tantillo’s manifesto is evidently a determined one, whether it is a realistic one is less clear.