It's the Autumn Leadership Elections at City! Meet the candidate for Chair of Student Council, Joshua Clayfield.

Marta Casais

Joshua Clayfield is a first-year law student. Despite his short time at City, Clayfield is determined to shake things around. His candidacy for Chair of Student Council is based on a platform of awareness. His biggest goal is to promote the Student Council and explain to students what it can do for them.

Q: What do you propose to get students more involved?

A: I want a clear line of representation so people can actually pass ideas to the council without having to go through the intimidating step of the student councillor. They might be two years older than them, not believing in what the students are proposing. Just because you have a councillor that doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t mean your voice shouldn’t be heard at all.

Q: How would you go about this?

A: Having an email address for submissions to the council. And having that publicly known, so people know whom to go to when they have an issue to bring to the council. Even if the Chair has an email address, that’s great, but if no one knows it exists and that’s a venue you can take to make a submission, then it’s not working. It should be a council address that the Chair and members of the council can access, see what the issues are, see which one they want to subscribe to and try to get that through the council.

Then, if that’s openly available, everyone can see what issues are talked about, what are things that people feel passionate about. We can then start doing things. If you have a disjointed line of representation, rather than having a clear line. Then things get lost and it’s not doing the job that it should be.

Q: Are you aware of any policy from the Students Union that would need further scrutiny?

A: I know Tuna [Kunt] ran on a campaign based on expanding Lecture Capture. At the moment it’s only available in the big lecture rooms, and she wanted to move them to smaller rooms too. So far, I haven’t seen any change. I don’t know what actions have been put in towards that.

That’s where you need a direct line of scrutiny: where you can ask them, because, at the moment, no one is approaching these actions. If nothing is happening, that information needs to be made available. I also think that by improving the representation of the council, and once its esteem rises, it will start putting forward proposals that have more weight to them.

Q: As a first-year do you feel like you know what are the issues with the council?

A: I’ve done a lot of talking to older students and asking around about the council. About what’s wrong with it and why it’s not working. When you speak to upper years, even people in their Masters, there’s a clear sense that nothing is getting done. I don’t know of any other specific issues.

Q: What do you expect from student councillors?

A: I’m going to ask that they ask for their school’s opinions and that they take an active role in doing that. I’m going to ensure that they live up to their role and they are committed. The people running for these elections are told what the role is before they sign up; you should then meet that role. You should be doing research, talking to people, taking notes. Then, we can have prepared debates for each councillor and get stuff done. If I go and say a couple of weeks before, “Okay, here’s the agenda”, I would expect councillors to go to their school and ask what the students believe.

Q: How often should the student council meet?

A: At the moment, it is meeting once every two or three months. I would say it should meet every month and a half. Otherwise, with a really big gap, short-term issues aren’t being expressed.

Q: What do you want to do when you finish university?

A: I want to be a barrister. That’s been my main aim for a while.

Q: Why are you the best candidate for Chair of the Student Council?

A: I’m standing for Chair of Student Council because I want there to be a working council. If I just sit back and wait for it to be an effective student council, it is unlikely to happen. I’d work in this role because I have experience in local politics. I’ve had experience with my local council, back where I’m from.

I’m also very practised in debating. I did the ESU national debate and in the competition, I came in third in the country. I’ve run a debating society for four years and I’ve chaired debates, so I have experience in chairing as well.

I think I can be an impartial head that can work with the administration and the council. I would not try to put forward my own agenda. And I can’t just sit back and wait for that to happen because I’m only here for three years and I want the council to work for all those three years.

Marta Casais
BA Journalism