Association President candidate Pia Szabo has a tremendous amount of experience both inside and outside of the Union, an asset which many would imagine would help her considerably if elected, as it proved to be in the past with previous Association Presidents and other Association candidates.
However, the manifesto provided by the candidate lacks coherence, clarity, and, most of all, professionalism.
Ms Szabo needs to understand that she is applying for a job with considerable responsibility to the student body and University, one which the students are paying her to do.
Within the manifesto, Ms Szabo’s good ideas and points are lost in their lack of development and understanding.
Additionally, statements such as “I also have a cool Matric card idea,” urging people to vote because “she’ll dye her hair back to brown,” and to “stay tuned for a sexy manifesto” have no place in any real world job application – so why should they here?
This lax attitude to such an influential position epitomises the negative perceptions students have of sabbaticals.
Ms Szabo would do well to develop her ideas more coherently. Although there is no doubt that she is an experienced candidate with a remarkable track record throughout her time at St Andrews, unfortunately this is not reflected in her manifesto.
For what Ms Szabo describes as the “hot topic” of this race, she provides a very brief response on how she would work to tackle the crisis.
Whilst she states that she will make paths to pre-existing bursaries more clear — a fair assertion — she provides no methods by which she would do this.
Perhaps most worrying is that she states that she will not raise accommodation prices, primarily because the Association President has no direct control over this and the decision instead lies with the University’s Residential Business Services.
It is therefore clear that Ms Szabo has not adequately researched the role she is applying for.
Ms Szabo asserts that she will increase accessibility and accountability if elected president.
However, some methods that she proposes are already available. One proposal, the introduction of a Sabbatical calendar, is already available on the Association Website.
If perhaps Ms Szabo means to make this more accessible through social media promotion, which she mentions later on in her manifesto, this would be a good step forward.
The sentiment of this section is highly commendable, although Ms Szabo needs to be more clear in her plan of action.
There are some good ideas here, but as seen with other sections and issues, they are only briefly touched upon. Ms Szabo proposes a “town hall” style monthly session in the realm of making student voice heard.
However, much would have to be done on the promotion of this. Student attendance of Joint Council meetings, which students are free to attend, is already low.
Furthermore, Ms Szabo suggests adding a poll to the weekly emails of the President. This could be an effective method of gauging student opinion and is a commendable idea.
Nonetheless, as the addition of polls warrants only a brief mention in Ms Szabo’s manifesto, more clarity is necessary here, and it must be said that steps will have to be taken to ensure that this does not fall victim to unfair manipulation.
It is clear that Ms Szabo wants to get alumni more involved within the University.
Nonetheless, the methods by which she proposes to do this are legally dubious by her own admission and are therefore clearly not properly researched.
Ms Szabo proposes the sale of personal contact information of University alumni from societies to the University as one way to improve alumni involvement.
Even if the legality of this is permissible, this is an action alumni would undoubtedly find to be an invasion of their privacy, thus making it counterproductive to ensuring good relations.