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What is your background?
I left my hometown in Italy when I was 13 to go to a boarding school to gain an international education. Then applied to SOAS, and now I am almost done! In SOAS I have kept the academic standards high, kept playing volleyball, but also dedicated more time to what I am truly passionate about. I have organised a series of Sound System parties that started last year. Most importantly, I couldn’t have had a better university experience and that is because I made the most out of SOAS by truly becoming part of it. Also because of my part-time job (both bar and shop), I can say that I have spent more time in SOAS than anywhere else. The constant growing and learning experiences that I have gained throughout from professors and students around me has definitely formed me into what I am today.
What are the two most pressing issues facing students on campus today?
Students find different issues more or less pressing to them individually. Confining the list to a couple will surely leave the most pressing issues of a few people out. What I tend to observe mostly is the lack of common space at peak times. At peak periods (under exam time) there is also lack of study space. Another issue is the race some of us need to run in order to get hold onto one of the few copies of a book. Why can’t £9000 a year (and counting with masters, and international students) afford a conversion to electronic books? Obviously it is costly for the antique ones, but the ones that are hard to get are just really expensive standard textbooks, which are available for sale online. More space, more resources… nothing that shouldn’t be afforded by all the money we pour in this place.
What are your top priorities in this role?
My absolute top priority in this role will be to represent the students’ interests by fighting for issues like lobbying for more space and better access to resources, but I will also make it priority to listen to students suggestions. These are fights that will have to be played out in the long term, in the short-term as co-president of activities and events I will be eager to efficiently organise space and resources to best accommodate the range of society-run activities, and also encourage students involvement in these plans. I want to organise legendary parties that will be remembered years after, and will wipe out those nostalgic memories of the “old SOAS”. Let’s stop being so melancholic about the past, and let’s start making SOAS better than ever!
How can the union improve as an organisation representing such a diverse group of students?
Democracy doesn’t work because when individuals vote in their self-interest, only the majority will be powerful enough to have actual consequences. The minorities however, will not have enough political power. Luckily enough, at SOAS we are known for our awareness and understanding of the interests and needs of minority groups. The Union should pay particular attention to minorities and unpopular groups, making sure that everyone gets a say. The Union should keep its doors open and be ready to welcome individuals that do not feel represented in order to discuss the issues and think about solutions. Something that can be of pressing importance for a few might not make the smallest difference for the majority, and while a purely “majority rules” system would forget about those needs, the Union can address them without messing with conflicting interests.
What is the most important quality for a member of the union executive to have?
An executive should be truly devoted to the best interests of the Union. The executive should then have the organisational skills to serve, support and coordinate other members of the Union in achieving their objectives and fulfilling their plans. The Co-President of Activities & Events, in cooperation with the other sabbatical officers, should have the capability of managing rooms and spaces for society bookings. The executive should have the practical knowledge to support events, activities and societies through his experience in dealing with various other key sections of the university, such security, estates & facilities, higher management. Furthermore the executive should be approachable and sociable so that it is not hard to get a hold of her/him. The executive should be open to new ideas as well as judge and probe the interests of the students to understand what has been enjoyed and what should not be continued. Finally, an executive should most importantly have very good conflict resolution skills in order to deal with the conflicting interests that can arise within the Union.
If you could invite any three people (alive or dead) to a party, who would they be?
Ranking Dread, because I am a big dub fan and I love his MC’ing. Unfortunately he has passed away, but was an extremely interesting character, having more than 15 identities throughout the UK and wanted for multiple crimes. Definitely someone you would want to bump into at a party. Furthermore I would invite Kurt Cobaine and his old crew, to ask about the beginning of their band formation and how much actually happened in SOAS. I am sure they wouldn’t mind a “back to where it all started” party to truly confirm all those rumours and legitimate that picture behind the bar, which looks like everything except for an authentic historical landmark. Lastly I would invite Beyonce for a live performance because that would definitely pack the room with honeys, and you whatever your sexual orientation is, you definitely need that to say that you’ve thrown a good party. I don’t think the people mentioned above would be performing together, but I wouldn’t prevent them from doing that if they felt like it.