University College London Union

Spring 2013 Elections - Featured Candidate

International Students’ Officer

The International Students’ Officer will be responsible for representing the interests of international students within the Union, within UCL and nationally. They will help and advise in the running of International Student Orientation Programmes and plan events aimed at international students. This is a part-time role.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Represent international students on issues within the Union
  • Attend UCL Education Committee
  • Event Planning for international students
  • Be an active member of Union Council and other committees
  • Contribute towards the International Student Orientation Programmes

Why Should You Stand?

Being an officer is a valuable and rewarding experience: Not only will you gain new skills which can greatly enhance your CV, it is a meaningful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other students and gives you the chance to influence the future of UCL. In particular, this role will give you the opportunity to shape the experience for international students at UCL.

Women’s Officer

The Women’s Officer represents the interests of UCL’s women students. This is done primarily through chairing the Women’s Forum and taking actions from this to Union Council. The Women’s Officer will liaise with the Welfare and International Officer on issues related to UCL women and representing women students externally to organisations such as the NUS. This is a part-time role.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Attend and represent women’s interests at Union Council, and other committees 
  • Chair the Women’s Forum
  • Be an active member of Union Council and other committees
  • Liaise with the Welfare and International Officer and other sabbatical officers as appropriate 
  • Assist the Welfare Officer with representing women students externally to organisations.

Why Should You Stand?

Being an officer is a valuable and rewarding experience: Not only will you gain new skills which can greatly enhance your CV, it is a meaningful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other students and gives you the chance to influence the future of UCL. In particular, this role is both a rewarding and engaging opportunity to represent women both internally and externally as the Women’s Officer will be representing over 10,000 students at both NUS and various union committees.


Previously featured candidates:

LGBT+ Officer

The LGBT+ Officer will represent the interests of self-defining lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT) students within the Union, and will be responsible for bringing any related matters or campaigns that are in the interests of the student community. This is a part-time role.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Represent LGBT+ students on issues within the Union
  • Liaise on behalf of UCL Union with the NUS LGBT Campaign
  • Attend NUS LGBT Conferences
  • Be an active member of Union Council and other committees

Why should you stand?

Being an officer is a valuable and rewarding experience: Not only will you gain new skills which can greatly enhance your CV, it is a meaningful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other students and gives you the chance to influence the future of UCL. In particular, this role will give you the opportunity to shape the experience of LGBT+ students at UCL.


Activities Officer

The Activities Officer shall support the non-academic development of the students by encouraging Club and Society activities. They will help in coordinating the activities that Clubs and Societies are involved in, and will aim to facilitate student engagement in the management and administration of their Clubs and Societies. This is a part-time role.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Support the Student Activities Officer in representing club and society areas to the Union and the College
  • Encourage Clubs and Societies to be inclusive and work within UCLU Equal Opportunities policy
  • Help co-ordinate annual events
  • Be an active member of Union Council and other committees
  • Chair the Activities Forum

Why Should You Stand?

Being an officer is a valuable and rewarding experience: Not only will you gain new skills which can greatly enhance your CV, it is a meaningful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other students and gives you the chance to influence the future of UCL. In particular, this role will give you the opportunity to help develop the non-academic life of UCL.

Education Officer

Sahal Quazi is this year’s Education Officer

If you are reading this you are probably interested in running for the role of Education Officer in the Spring Elections 2013. Firstly well done :) it’s very important that as many students get involved in the union because it’s only as good as you make it to be!

So what does the education officer entail? Basically you work closely with the Education and Campaigns Officer in terms of looking after and representing the educational needs for all UCL students, so that includes anything from library facilities to cluster rooms to teaching quality to even stuff like making UCL visually nicer. The role is very open and it’s very much up to you what you wish to take a lead on.

This year my main aim was to get my forum to reach quoracy which I did and to start to get people more involved in it.

We have also been leading on improving access to rooms during exam time, finalising 24 hour libraries, sorting out issues regarding word limits on essays, campaigning with school of pharmacy in getting their bursary and much more. There is a lot to gain from running for any officer position, you will learn how to take lead, teamwork, time management, and above all you are in a position where you can actually make a difference! 


SSEES Officer

Cecilia Rossler represents SSEES this year

What does your position involve?

Being the SSEES Officer is a diverse job. At first, it was all events organization because of Fresher’s week and that’s still a big part of it, though normally people on committee handle most of that. Now it’s more trying to make sure things run smoothly. Another big part of it is working with the staff at SSEES – any complaints about anything and I pass them on, and they always want student feedback. Most weeks I have about at least a few hours of meetings with staff about various issues, mainly ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff like the common room or the website, or feedback in general.

What motivated you to run for this position?

I thought it would be really bad if SSEES didn’t have some representation. Then some crucial peer pressure came along and I went for it.

Highlights or achievements:

The highlight for me has just been working with such great people. Everyone on committee is great and the staff at SSEES and in the Union are extremely supportive. Also, when people come up to me after events just to say thank you it’s so nice! Other highlights have been seeing events actually go well, because you kind of assume every event will be a disaster. The things I will be most proud of are in the pipeline – the common room might get refurbished! – but haven’t actually happened yet, but if they work out I will be very happy.

What skills have you gained since taking office?

I’d like to think leadership but that’s really for people at SSEES to judge. Generally learning how to work with people, how to behave in meetings or how to say no or complain without being rude.

Welfare & International Officer

Candy Ashmore-Harris is the WIO this year

The role of WIO is very broad! Representatively you sit on college welfare groups, Joint Staff Student Committee and liaise with Equalities and Diversity Groups. You also sit on the panels for exam irregularities and disciplinaries either as a panel member, or to act as the friend of the student in a supportive role. Campaigns can cover a variety of welfare related aspects from sexual health, to well-being or diversity, housing or to the more political battles such as saving or improving facilities vital to UCL students e.g. the Gower Place Practice, the Quiet Contemplation Room or Student Psychological Services. The role also has a responsibility for ensuring that college is accessible as possible for international students, this includes raising concerns at college committees, liaising with Rights & Advice over recurring problems e.g. visa problems. Union interfaith activity also comes jointly under this role, with the SAO. WIO works with and supports the liberation part-time officers as well as the equality and international students’ officer.

You will become very good at having difficult conversations, facilitating them and writing emails to the not entirely reasonable patron. You will improve your leadership skills, have the opportunity to participate in the appointment process for new staff members as well as develop your project work, management, public speaking, and presentation skills.
Motivation to run for the position

I had been very involved in UCLU from my first year at UCL acting as a StAR in my department and getting involved in the London Living Wage Campaign. This extended all the way into my third year when I became the Women’s Officer (a part-time role) which I thoroughly enjoyed. I noticed several things that could be improved whilst at UCL and decided that it being my final year I had nothing to lose by running, but I could potentially gain a very valuable and rewarding year.

Winning a close and hard fought election with only 13 votes in it! UCL SPS agreeing to pilot a drop-in counselling project (in the research stages currently). Ran a successful flat finder event to help students find a room/flatmates before term 1 began and facilitated a very successful student lead campaign leading up to world AIDS day.

Postgraduate Association Officer

Ben Towse is the PGA Officer.

As Postgraduate Association Officer, I’m responsible for supporting the rest of the PGA committee, coordinating our campaigns and activities, and pushing for postgrads’ needs and interests in various UCL bodies as well as Union Council. It’s a very varied job and a relatively demanding one. I got involved because I believe passionately that postgraduate study needs to be better and more accessible, and the university community should be ethical, democratic and non-oppressive.

Highlights have included: helping the Union become more active, assertive and effective through protest and direct action; beating exploitative unpaid internships; seeing our campaign for part-time student transport and Council Tax discounts taken up across London; and successfully defending UCL’s protections against cuts. Supporting and coordinating the new PGA committee as they bring in fresh ideas and projects has been interesting and widened my perspective.

I’ve learned that you need to develop patience and determination and to get assertive when necessary. Often the things we need to stand up for won’t come to fruition until after you’ve finished your short term, and require resolve in the face of dismissiveness, reluctance and outright hostility from certain authorities – see it as indicating you’re probably getting something right!

Student Activities Officer

Abdul-Ahad Akbari is this year’s SAO.

What does your position involves?

The position of Student Activities Officer, obviously the most fun position, involves developing and supporting the 200+ Clubs and Societies that we have here at UCLU. It is the role that involves a huge amount of interaction with students. The role highly involves making sure that the members of UCLU can easily pursue their hobbies and interests outside of lectures during their time at UCL. In this position, the Student Activities Officer will oversee the Volunteering Services Unit, one of the biggest Volunteering Departments in the UK. 

What motivated you to run for this position?

One of the biggest motivations for me to run for this position was to be able to have a huge impact on the Activities that take place at UCL. Personally, I believe the non-curricular activities is just as important as the academic side to University as it can help develop skills that can be used for the rest of your life. To be able to have a major contribution to changing thousands of student’s lives for the better is what makes this job so appealing.

Highlights or achievements:

A few highlights since I have been in this position is radical improvements to the UCLU website, introducing a new group system to the website, improving/generating publicity for Clubs and Societies with a the introduction of new system, improving UCL’s quiet contemplation room facilities securing a very large bursary for our Elite Athletes, supporting our Clubs and Societies with funding

What skills you have gained since taking office?

I believe one of the most important skills that I have personally developed in this position is my communication skills. This position places a huge responsibility onto the shoulders of the individual and communication is vital in order to ensure that the job at hand is completed efficiently. 

School of Pharmacy Officer

Sergio Lanza represents the School of Pharmacy.

To do well as a School of Pharmacy Officer you must be fully committed and motivated to do this job. You will, as well, need to sacrifice some of your time to fulfill your duties in order to be the best you can be as a School of Pharmacy Officer.

However, with motivation you will feel like that sparing time for these duties isn’t all that bad. I got myself motivated to do this position because I love to help others and I want to make a change to embetter the experience of pharmacy students during their university years.

My position typically involves managing/approving ideas for social events for the pharmacy students, representing the ideas or issues of pharmacy students to academic staff members and to try to integrate the School of Pharmacy with UCL as smoothly as possible. A

fter having this position for just two months, I strengthened my communication skills, my organizational skills and improved my leadership qualities.  


Medical & Postgraduate Students’ Officer

Dante Micheaux was elected last year as the MPSO for 2012-13.

“My position involves helping shape UCLU’s services so that our provision is always inclusive of/accessible to medical students and postgraduate students.

On a daily basis, I function as the lead officer for all medical students, all postgraduates, SSEES students and School of Pharmacy students—which means anything from approving finances for any activity in those groups to presenting reports on how to improve the experience for those groups of students.

I was motivated to run for this position because I found the services for postgraduates lacking when I arrived at UCL in 2009. I wanted to do something to change that experience for other postgraduates.

Two highlights from my experience so far are: seeing a full and functioning committee for the Postgraduate Forum; and beginning to create a better working environment for UCLU staff who work hard to make life outside of study enjoyable to for students.

Since taking office, I have gained a better understanding of the financial procedures involved in running the Union. Our Financial Services team hardly gets credit for their work because the department is not student-facing. Without them, however, the services we provide would cease to exist.”

RUMS Officer

Gareth Chan is this year’s RUMS Officer

“You will be the figurehead for all RUMS issues. The post involves being responsible for a team of excellent VPs who look after every aspect of RUMS, from Events to Welfare to our beloved Sports teams. Your job is to ensure that everything that RUMS is involved in is in the interests of medical students.

The main motivation for me running for two terms as RUMS President was to protect and develop RUMS on its own footing.

Highlights as RUMS President include the massively successful integration of our freshers into RUMS; hugely successful Freshers’ Fortnights and Balls—all completely separate from UCLU’s equivalents; and the launch of new RUMS ventures: the RUMS Ski Trip and the new RUMS Sportswear and Leisurewear range. 

Through this job I developed my communication, teamwork and management skills—competencies assessed when applying for core trainee jobs. I also gained a much better insight into the medical degree course, as well as the world outside of RUMS. 

Go ahead and run for RUMS President. This is the best job you can possibly have within RUMS; whilst it’s undeniably hard work at times, it is also the most rewarding job. Get involved and help keep RUMS great!”

Education & Campaigns Officer

Edwin Clifford-Coupe is this year’s ECO.

What does this position involve?

“The Education & Campaigns position involves two distinct parts. The first is educational: the elected officer is the student voice on many UCL committees, from some of the highest, such as UCL Council and the Academic Committee, to some of the more nitty gritty groups, such as the Access Agreement Steering Group. This requires keeping up-to-date with committee papers and current Higher Education trends. The ECO is also traditionally the UCLU representative to outside educational bodies, such as the National Union of Students and the University of London Union.

The ECO also coordinates much of the Union’s campaigning, working with the Representation and Campaigns (RAC) department to run campaigns mandated by policy and to facilitate students-led campaigning. The educational and campaigning sectors are combined in the Student Academic Representative (StARs) project, which the ECO helps to coordinate.”

What motivated you to run for this position?

“I ran for ECO because this is a time of huge change in the higher education sector. Fees are increasing rapidly, with cuts on the horizon, and students are increasingly being seen as mute consumers. Students’ unions must be there to effectively campaign for students’ rights on campus.”


“I planned and organised the Free Education demonstration on 21.11.12, which saw a large number of UCL students protest against rising fees.”

What skills you have gained since taking office?

“The position is teaching me to balance my time effectively, and how to use evidenced-based campaigning to effect change.”

Student Media Officer

Levi Leatherberry chairs the Student Media Forum currently. 

“Being the SMO entails holding media forums, advocating on behalf of the universities media, and helping students connect with the universities media outlets in new and engaging ways.

What motivated me to run for this position was my long held passion for media and a sence of responsibility to make it easier for students to get published and heard, as well as have their rights protected from censorship.

As SMO I’ve been able to pursue a libel policy which has the potential to have ramifications university wide - particularly in navigating the complex legal consideration all media confronts.

In terms of skill I’m not yet finished and hope to gain greater tact and negotiating skills as head of the student media forum.”

Union Chair

Layth Hanbali is the Union Chair this year. 

“Being Chair involves chairing meetings. Shocker! This includes Council meetings (10 per year) and Members’ Meetings/General Assemblies (2 per year currently – but should be more). I oversee elections, where I interpret any unclear rules and make sure they run democratically. Last, and probably least, I sit on Steering Committee, which interprets unclear constitutional business and ensures democratic functioning.

I was President of a society in second year and found it so frustrating getting around all the Union business without much guidance, and was also into politics but again found the Union impossible to navigate and figure out. After much reluctance on my part and support (read peer pressure) on my friends’ part, I bit the bullet, as I do feel passionately about ensuring the Union is democratic and accessible.

So far, I’m most proud of finishing a council meeting within less than an hour and 15 minutes once. More seriously, it’s difficult to see immediate results as Chair. But it’s still satisfying coming out of a meeting knowing the decision made would make the elections more inclusive, or the Union more accessible. 

Main skill gained: communication, communication, communication! Leadership, decision-making – yeah, OK. But, ultimately, communication glues absolutely everything together.”