CCSU Elections 2021: Debate Night

Here’s a full run down of the debate night where we heard more about the candidates views and why they believe you should vote for them.

This year, the debate night was online and held on Christ Church SU’s YouTube channel.

It premiered on the 5th of March at 5pm.

You can click here to watch the full debate:

Share your thoughts on the debate night via social media using the hashtag #ChristChurchVotes.

Each candidate was invited to take part in the debate night.

It began with each candidate giving a short speech outlining their key manifesto points and why we should be voting for them.

Then, each candidate had a Q&A Session with Anna Mniszko

Anna Mniszko


What did the Candidates say in the Q&A Session?

Here’s a run down…

Maddy Young – Running for President of Engagement and Sports

Maddy giving her opening speech at the Debate Night

Maddy’s number one priority is engagement and you can read more about this in her manifesto.

“Making the sporting model financially and physically available for all students” is what Maddy wants to change post COVID.

Regarding the Medway Campus, Maddy has been drawing up a campaign called Move for Medway. She believes that finding out what students at the Medway Campus want is extremely important.

To increase and diversify the students engagement with their union Maddy placed emphasise on the importance of Union on Tour. This is where the presidents go and talk to students to find out what they want. She added: “Students need to know who we are”

When asked how she would support sports clubs Maddy began by saying she loves her sports clubs. She then said next year is all about re-building the community. She wants to focus on students getting back and playing since they missed out this year.

Remembering societies and sports are very different is key to Maddy, but she believes they can have a bridge built between them. She identified that recognising the differences and build the bridges is what should be done to bring sports clubs and societies together.

Maddy ended by saying she would love to get more people involved in Varsity next year. She said; ‘at Christ Church it is a lot about participation, but I would love for CCCU to win Varsity.’


Beth Elwood – Running for President of Campaigns and Societies 

Beth giving her opening speech on Debate Night

Beth’s number one priority if elected is to have more student led campaigns. Beth believes this is a great way to “empower students.”

Post COVID, Beth outlined that the university needs to improve their communication with students. She outlined that during the pandemic there have been problems with communication and students want the truth and don’t want to be left in the dark.

Beth said that it is important to  realise the differences between the Canterbury and Medway campus. She said that ‘Medway students want to focus on the academic side of university. You can’t use the same approach that you use in Canterbury in Medway. We need to accept their differences.’

With the pandemic Beth said: “Societies have had it tough.” But, she gave a positive spin to this is stating that next year is a fresh canvas which is a huge opportunity for societies.

Beth has considered campaigns for the future. On a national level she believes that campaigning for lower university fees should always be happening. On a local level, Beth emphasised wellbeing is very important.

Echoing Maddy’s points on bringing societies and sports clubs together, Beth added “we need to continue to do joint events.”

Beth’s final point was that first years deserve a freshers’. She wants it to be bigger and better next year, getting the students the experience they deserve.


Frankie McGregor – Running for President of Community, Diversity and Inclusion

Frankie giving her opening speech on Debate Night

Frankie’s number one priority if elected is inclusion. She wants to do this by working with different student networks and societies. She would also do this by working alongside other presidents to help to create an inclusive environment for students.

Post COVID, Frankie believes the safety and wellbeing of students needs to be prioritised. She would aim to do this through developing the counselling service.

Frankie outlined that she understands the needs of Medway students are different to those of Canterbury Students. Frankie would give support through doing weekly Medway drop in sessions and ensuring the right access to specialised practitioners is there to help them.

When asked what her top priority in terms of championing diversity and inclusion in the university is, Frankie said: ‘Don’t presume what students want – go out and talk to them and find out what they need.’

To improve the relationship between students and the local community, Frankie said she would look to create partnerships between students and Kent. She wants to find a way to give back to the community for example, through the good neighbour scheme.

To improve student wellbeing, Frankie said she wants to focus on making sure Medway get the right practitioners. She wants campaigns for the students such as; drug awareness, period poverty, etc… She also believes that continuing Tuesday Chill is important as well as working with other presidents and ensuring they can join wellbeing activities.

Frankie wants to look into a housing accrediting scheme to help students find the right housing for them that is safe.

Also, night life for students needs to be safe. She wants to ensure there are pop up hubs and street martials around to ensure all students are safe.


Bethan O’Dea – Running for President of Community, Diversity and Inclusion

Beth giving her opening speech on Debate Night

Bethan’s top priority if she was elected is making sure no students are excluded.

She said that the communication between students and university needs to change. She explained that throughout the pandemic, she has heard from some students who weren’t able to get the right support for their disability due to a lack of communication. She added the hardship fund process needs to be simplified as it is currently overcomplicated.

Bethan stated it is important to her to make sure everyone feels included in the student union. To do this, she said she would encourage more communication and presence on campus to therefore make a more inclusive environment.

Bethan said her priority in terms of championing diversity and inclusion in the university is champion everyone. She wants there to be more networking – even if it ends up being virtually.

To improve the relationship between students and the community Bethan thinks stronger relationships with organisations in the community need to be made. She thinks this can be done through sustainability projects to get the students and community working and integrating together.

To improve student wellbeing, Bethan wants to start by placing more importance on men’s mental health. From this, she would then look at encouraging the development of the university counselling service. All in all she wants to reduce the stigma around talking openly.

Bethan’s closing points were on her views that the safety of students in sexual violence trauma is important. She wants there to be more awareness on safe sex and consent. She also wants to work with local health care organisations to deliver resources to encourage students to go for smear testing, learn about STI’s and men’s mental health.


Jake Warman – Running for Union President

Jake giving his opening speech at Debate Night

Jake’s top priority if elected is focusing on a post COVID recovery. He wants to ensure; “students are back as safe as possible.”

Post COVID, Jake said that integrating the university into Canterbury is important. He added that he thinks “the university is a bit aloof.”

Jake believes that we need a closer communication and contact with the Medway Campus. To achieve this, he would go there regularly.

Communication is key for Jake when it comes to supporting course reps in improving their course on a local level. He said; “keep the door open and make sure you’re always on hand.”

Jake identified that the COVID roadmap has a level of uncertainty as it could change at any point. He added that online learning experience has been a mixed bag across courses. So, he wants to focus on getting people back to university safely, if elected.

Overall, Jake said he wants there to be more integration across the university. He thinks the location of the university is a disadvantage so would want to have more presence in Augustine House or on campus.


Oliver King – Running for Union President

Oliver giving his opening speech at Debate Night

Oliver’s top priority if elected is to combat climate change. He wants the university to have a certified bee corporation and have 1% profit from the union go to certified causes. He also wants students to see where money goes. He believes this is important as; “we can all graduate but if there is no planet to be on, what’s the point.”

Post COVID, Oliver said that transparency in the university is key. He followed by giving the example that the newest graduates weren’t told they were going to be graduating online. They were not consulted. Oliver wants more transparency so students can be more involved in how things work at the university.

Being a trustee at the Medway campus, Oliver thinks a transport link is needed between the Medway and Canterbury campus so the students can get more involved.

Having been a rep for his course for the past two years, Oliver said there used to be a committee where reps could speak to the union president. If elected, he would want to broaden the community and improve the training of being a rep.

Oliver said that the biggest challenge student’s are facing with their academic experience is the pandemic forcing home learning. He highlighted that he knows many students are finding it hard to study at home. To combat this challenge, Oliver wants to provide more tutorials, more academic societies getting involved in helping and mentoring students. Overall he hopes to bring ‘the academic experience back up.’

Oliver ended by saying he wants to increase and diversify our revenue. He wants to do this by getting more students involved in the union. For example, he thinks that if more students take on the Uni Temp scheme offered at the university, this will be something for them to put on their CV and this helps them to contribute towards the union. He thinks the union struggles to get the students attention so more employment will mean more students will be involved.


Dan Bichener – Running for Union President

Dan giving his opening speech at Debate Night

Dan’s top priority if elected is ensuring we have a smooth reintegration of students in September. He wants to make sure every student is supported and their wellbeing is looked after.

Post COVID, Dan wants to look at closing the degree attainment gap. He identified this is a challenging process but is keen to have a role in this change.

When asked about the Medway campus, Dan thinks that they are underrepresented. To tackle this head on, Dan would go to Medway to see what the students want to change and what their problems are. He said; ‘it is about involvement and communication and having lots of events there.’

For Dan, training is extremely important for supporting course reps. He also emphasised that communication is vital. ‘Making sure everyone is supported and the right people are there – knowing you can bring an issue up and everything is sorted out properly.’

Dan highlighted that he thinks the biggest challenge students are facing with their academic experience is online learning. He identified that many students are not only struggling with working online, but are also struggling with not being able to go onto campus. He said: ‘When students are back, some might be eager others might prefer online.’ Dan wants to look at mixing it up and managing the two together to accommodate everyone.

When asked what he would like to see the union doing differently, Dan said ‘improving communication.’ In being the editor of Unified, Dan has good communication with students, but he wants to improve them further.


What’s left to come?

You can read the candidates full manifestos, on the student union website:

Voting opens 9am Monday the 8th of March and closes at on Wednesday the 10th of March at 5pm.

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