Thanks to his experience engaging with the student body in a wide variety of roles over the past three years, Mr Wood is qualified to fill the position of Association President next year.
Mr Wood states that the priority of his accommodation agenda will be to provide “high-quality, low-cost” beds in town through the expansion of University-managed properties.
Whilst University-managed properties are undoubtedly more affordable than their estate agent counterparts, the expansion would need to be significant to make a noticeable difference to the student body as a whole.
Mr Wood also suggests the creation of a “redevelopment forum to ensure that the student opinion is heard and advocated for in redevelopment plans at the highest levels.”
This would be a useful method for making the opinions of residents known in regard to redevelopment plans. However, the forum lacks concrete influence on redevelopment plans and does not ensure the University is accountable to residents in their changes.
Mr Wood furthermore asserts that he would work with incumbent Association President Charlotte Andrew to fight the HMO ban.
The ban is up for review by Fife Council in June. Because they are both committed to reversing it, Mr Wood and Ms Andrew could make a serious difference in accommodation options for students.
Overall, Mr Wood has both short and long-term solutions. In an interview with The Saint, he explained, “In the long term, I think the priority has to be with negotiating with university accommodation members about accommodation redevelopment schemes.”
Mr Wood plans to join with other Scottish universities’ sabbatical teams to lobby the government in Brexit negotiations.
He said, “I just think that president is the role that will help me facilitate my goal of advocacy for students on a national platform with the University.”
The collaboration of sabbatical teams could be one of the most effective methods of maintaining funds for the Erasmus Scheme and ensuring that our University remains a diverse institution.
Student outreach is a key aspect of Mr Wood’s manifesto. He hopes to let the student body be more involved in the process of policy-making.
In order to further outreach efforts, Mr Wood suggests creating “question time” style feedback forums, visiting University halls, and using the subsequent student involvement to reform the Association.
This is an interesting policy, as many students, especially in first year, are unaware of the influence the Association President has on their time at university. If elected, Mr Wood could effectively execute such actions as an active current member of the Association.
Mr Wood addresses the issue of widening access very firmly in his manifesto, suggesting a number of methods to bridge the gap between state and privately educated students at St Andrews.
He aims to work with a number of societies and reach out to local Fife schools. Given his prior involvement with organisations such as Saints LGBT+, Mr Wood has the connections necessary to foster such relationships.
“I’m very aware of the relationship between our specific groups and the community at large,” he explained.
Although Mr Wood will undoubtedly be able to gain support from societies to address the issue on a local level, this does not solve the problem of widening access.
Fife makes up a small proportion of potential applicants, and Mr Wood does not provide plans on how to increase access for the rest of Scotland.
In order to increase alumni involvement, Mr Wood proposes that he “will work with the DoSDA to centrally digitise affiliated society membership lists.”
This is an appealing proposal; however, how Mr Wood will obtain contact information for these individuals once they graduate is unclear. Many societies only hold the University email addresses for their current members, and these addresses will expire shortly after students leave St Andrews.
The Saint believes Mr Wood is an exceptionally qualified candidate for the position of Association President. His involvement with societies both within and outside of the Association has given Mr Wood the experience needed to lead the sabbatical team, and his policies, though lacking detail in some areas, are actionable and well-thought out.