The Director of Representation’s remit extends to, academic representation, student welfare and equal opportunities, and democracy and Mr Carr argues that his manifesto evenly balances all three. Mr Carr says that he aims to focus on underrepresented student communities in St Andrews, in The Saint’s opinion, this should undoubtedly be the focus of the DoRep.
Mr Carr also notes his experience as President of the School of History and in sitting on the Student’s Association Wellbeing committee. Such experience is important for the DoRep, giving Mr Carr experiencing of representing student concerns and looking out for their welfare, and will undoubtedly help him should he win.
However Mr Carr’s biggest asset outside of his policies is his personal background. Describing how his first few years of university were complicated by health issues he says that, “at times it seemed the system was against me.”
Mr Carr has a wealth of personal experience of being on the wrong end of poor representation and a lack of concern for student welfare. As such The Saint is confident that, if he were to win, he would take student welfare, an issue that many feel the University has often fallen down on, would be at the top of his priorities.
Mr Carr has a range of detailed polices, however one concern that arises that he may simply have too many commitments to realistically achieve all his goals in one year.
Welfare and Equal Opportunities
One of the key planks of Mr Carr’s welfare plan to dramatically increase the help given to students who have extenuating circumstances or undertake leave of absences. Having experienced problems with this part of University life himself, Mr Carr clearly has the knowledge of how the system needs to be reformed.
Mr Carr wants to review and standardise the policies for such circumstances across the University. This is truly radical reform, and if implemented, would represent one of the greatest developments in the welfare of St Andrews students in many years.
Mr Carr also proposes plans to help mature students integrate more into University, a continuing problem for many.
The issue of mental health specifically also proves to a key part of Mr Carr’s plan. Aiming to iniate a renewed focus on the topic, specific ideas that Mr Carr has include working with groups such as Student Minds to set up support groups for students struggling with mental health issues. If followed through, these support groups could be hugely beneficial for students who may often feel they have no proper avenue through which to discuss any difficulties they may be having.
Mr Carr also promises to continue many of the successful efforts of the past year in areas of sexual health and racial diversity, including the “Got Consent?” program and Pangea.
While these are certainly promises that would benefit students, The Saint feels that Mr Carr should incorporate more fresh ideas into his platform as well.
Education and Representation
Mr Carr has a huge range of detailed policies on education and representation, while again he may have set himself too many goals, he clearly has an understanding of the nuances in the area of student representation.
Mr Carr says that he wants to “aim to implement total accessibility, with an open door policy whenever I’m in the office and a fast response to all emails within 24 hours,” and while a noble goal that would be invaluable to students, The Saint feels that this idea is simply not feasible, especially considering the huge of day-to-day work that the DoRep is required to do.
In the area of student democracy, Mr Carr has some well thought out ideas. Explaining clearly how they would be implemented, he evidently has confidence how he will fulfill his pledges. One such pledge to, “Improve transparency and accountability in academic representation, by promoting the work of School Presidents in their end-of-semester reports and by ensuring the new transcript recognition of good performance by class representatives is implemented smoothly,” would be of great benefit to students.
Transparency and accountability remain a major issues that affect all students, and indeed promises to increase this across the students association form a major part of Mr Carr’s plan. By letting students know what their elected representatives are doing, they will be more able to make their concerns heard.
He also promises to formalise and increase the amount of training for members of the Student Representative Council and Student Services Council.
The Saint believes this is a major issue for student and we are delighted Mr Carr is addressing it. Throughout the past year many council members have expressed concerns that they did not receive proper training for the roles they were taking over, and as such have not been able to represent students as well as they could have done this year. If student representatives do not know how to represent those that elected them, the entire Students Association becomes less and less useful.
The Saint’s Assessment
Mr Carr is a candidate who is undoubtedly qualified for the office he is standing for, and his personal experience gives him a unique insight into what needs to be done to aid student welfare and representation. His pledges are detailed and thought out, and will serve to help students succeed at St Andrews. While The Saint would like to reiterate its concerns that Mr Carr has perhaps over-burdened himself with promises, he clearly has a coherent idea of what he would like to achieve as DoRep. Mr Carr’s manifesto, and especially his promise to reform extenuating circumstances policies, will serve the students of St Andrews well.