Dominic Nolan’s manifesto is mostly clear and concise. He comprehends the powers and constraints of the role and his policies are subsequently achievable. However, it remains to be seen how his role as president would be impeded by his job as a councillor. While some may see this as an advantage, it must be noted that conflict of interest would arise in both his roles at some point while president. Mr Nolan will likely be forced to abstain from the Associations’ democratic process.
When addressing housing, Mr Nolan seems to understand the powers and constraints of the president. His knowledge of as well as influence over the HMO ban in town would serve the student body well.
Mr Nolan promises to lobby for greater diversity of room-type availability. As the University – particularly Residential Business Services – are not obligated to fulfill this request, it will be difficult to achieve. Previous Association presidents have learned this though their inaction; but not for lack of trying.
Mr Nolan’s widening access promises are somewhat a continuation of the same: supporting outreach and ambassador programmes that currently exist. He suggests we focus some of these programmes in Dundee. Whilst commendable, much of the reason a tremendous amount of outreach doesn’t exist in Dundee is because many students prefer to move further than “down the road” at university. Mr Nolan could be more innovative in his methods of tackling access.
Refreshingly, this is a section that rarely appears on the manifesto of any candidate for president. Whilst the Students’ Association is a relatively transparent organisation, access and engagement can be difficult. Any transparency measures would be a great asset to the student body and will likely have widespread support.
Mr Nolan’s accountability plan focuses around four key points: (1) to introduce a recall option for Sabbaticals; (2) to create a portal for petitions; (3) to livestream all SSC meetings; (4) to attach minutes of meetings to emails.
A recall option would be a difficult to implement and perhaps open to manipulation, nonetheless it adds an extra layer of accountability and may prevent candidates performing a complete U-turn on their manifesto promises.
A portal for petitions is a reasonable and attainable promise that would likely serve the student body well. Again, like the recall option, this aspect of transparency may be open to improper use and manipulation. Nonetheless, the positives of its implementation would undoubtedly outweigh the negatives.
Turnout at Joint Council and public meetings of the Students’ Association usually consists of the members and a few correspondents for The Saint, with rare exceptions such as the strike motion of last month which demonstrated how unprepared the Association was to deal with student participation. Currently, The Saint acts as the Association’s greatest tool of transparency when it comes to these meetings. Live-streaming these sessions will be easy to implement and only serves to benefit the student body.
Lastly, while attaching minutes to emails is a great concept and will undoubtedly work, perhaps the focus should also be on the time from meeting to public release. Often it may take a considerable amount of time before minutes are made available to students.
Mr Nolan promises to “heal” tensions between town and gown. It must be acknowledged that Mr Nolan, when compared with other candidates, has significantly more name recognition in St Andrews because of his position as councillor. This could help the Students’ Association be more proactive in addressing the concerns of local residents. However, Mr Nolan does not establish policies by which he would do this; further clarification is needed.