Alaa Jasim is a third-year English student and former Editor of the university’s Arts & Culture magazine, Ellipsis. She is running for Student Officer with three main policies: a practical approach to improving mental health, improving communication around feedback and results, and being “a voice for societies to the Guild, not just the other way around.”
How would you change the Guild, if elected?
How would I change the Guild? Um… that’s a really interesting question. I think that my biggest focus in my manifesto is mental health. So I think making little changes in the Guild to start with… so certain things like, making soft drinks at bars cheaper, helping people make the healthier choices, we could even… I was chatting to some of the current SOs and we were talking about maybe having a day every week when we speak to our caterers in the Courtyard, and having a really healthy day every week, or just a really healthy week, because impacting your physical health also impacts your mental health. If you’ve got a healthy body, you’re more likely to have a healthy mind, as well. So I’d change that kind of thing to start with.
What’s your favourite Guild campaign of the past?
I really liked Ananda’s ‘Find your Happy Place’, because I think that your home is so important and finding a place where you can live and finding a landlord who’s good is so, so important. There’s nothing worse than students having a bad home, because, going back to mental health – I was at a talk yesterday, and the biggest thing that impacts your health and especially your mental health is where you live, and your surroundings… obviously if you’ve got bad surroundings you’re not going to be happy, so finding a home where you’re happy and safe… I thought that was really, really important.
What’s your least favourite Guild campaign?
I don’t think I really have one! I don’t think there’s been a campaign where I’ve seen it and just gone “that’s a bad idea”. I think everything that the Guild’s run has been in some form useful, and I think if a campaign is useful, then it’s a good campaign. I mean there have been some that I’ve not really been aware of, so evidently we did Rainbow Laces again this year and I wasn’t really aware of that… but I think that’s a useful campaign in terms of acceptance in sports, particularly with the LGBT community being under so much scrutiny right now, especially with the political climate the way that it is. So I don’t think I have a least favourite one.
What have your experiences been like at university?
Mixed. Inherently positive here, but this is my second university. My first university was really, really difficult because my surroundings weren’t great, I didn’t have a great home. I didn’t have nearly as much support as we do here in Liverpool. Here, I’ve been so, so much happier, and particularly since I’ve joined so many societies. I’m an active member in a few societies. I led a student media society that I’ve very recently stepped down from… and I think that the Guild really offers a lifeline for people who struggle at university, struggle with academia, that kind of thing. It’s a great way to find people kind of outside of your immediate course, people who share the same interests as you but have enough variation that you can like… really get to know people in other fashions. But, really positive. Obviously there are things that I want to improve, hence the manifesto, like streamlining the mental health services, and things like results and feedback… I think there are more efficient ways of running things, but I also feel like this university has been a really positive experience for me. So I don’t want to leave! [laughs].
What’s more important – facts or feelings?
Oh that’s difficult! I think, to a certain degree, probably facts, in the sense that when you’re in a leadership position, you have to trust your intuition, but at the same time, if you’re not sure about something, you’re not sure how to approach something, if there’s a big problem that you can’t necessarily deal with just through intuition, then trusting facts, trusting what’s happened – it’s probably the best way to go, isn’t it? Obviously being passionate about your job, being passionate about how things are run here – that’s really important. In terms of leadership, being able to use both in balance is important too. So I don’t know if one is necessarily more important than the other, it depends on the situation. If you’re dealing with lots of problems – facts, if you want to do a job for the sake of doing a job… if you’re passionate and you really feel like you want to be doing the job, then that’s obviously better.
Finally, could you try to sum up your campaign in three words?
On your side.
I like it, I like it. Thank you very much.