Currently a Department Representative for the Department of Theatre, Film and Television, Jay Elizabeth Edevane is standing to become the new Academic Officer of the University of York Students’ Union.
What inspired you to run for the position?
I have always had a passion for academic representation, but I suppose the defining inspiring moment for me was when I had just started as a department rep; there was a lot of resistance from some lectures but at the yearly department planning day I was invited to speak about it and I built a strong case for it before opening up to discussion. It was a long round of questions, some very difficult to answer but I convinced a lot of people that day and the motion to make lecture capture the standard in all lectures passed at the next board of studies. Being able to make such a difference through a lot of preparation and having a productive dialogue was so inspiring, I’m incredibly proud of it and it really showed me that this is what I want to do with my life.
What makes you different from the other candidates?
Nothing has ever stopped me from making positive changes to our university, I have proven myself time and time again to enact useful change to this University. There is no substitute for experience and a successful track record. I can say with certainty that I can implement my policies successfully and that my policies will make lasting change. I also have experience in people managing and working across departments, an undervalued but vital part of the role. Finally, I have proven myself able to stand up for the students that I represent so I will be resolute and determined in changing York for the better for you.
How would your policies change student life at York?
Unfortunately, most students will have had a lecture or even term of lectures that just weren’t good enough. There are lectures that start at 9 am but you go to anyway and enjoy because they’re taught well and engaging, then there’s the lecture that you miss and say you’ll catch on replay but you never really get around to it. I want to find those lectures and make sure that they aren’t just being taught that way out of habit. My policies would make sure that your teaching is up to standard.
What challenges do you expect to face in this position and how will you respond to them?
Sometimes the interests of the students don’t tally up with what the university wants to do. I am not afraid to stand up for the interests of students at York and I have the experience and skills to do that without damaging working relationships with the university.
What has been your most enjoyable experience at university?
Just the kind of day-to-day, meeting new people aspect. It’s so amazing that I can meet someone from Physics who has an entire knowledge and skill set that I couldn’t comprehend. I love hearing about people’s passions, I can chat for hours to strangers at parties about their dreams and interests.
What challenges do students face in their academic studies?
Depends on the student, everyone has different needs and circumstances that are unique to them, but you can generally group them. For example, disabled students may not be able to get to lectures or seminars reliably and so they need access to services like lecture capture to be completely consistent through the university. By fixing this problem, we’d actually be making things better for all students. It’s often the case that when you make things more accessible for one group, you actually just make it more accessible for everyone.
As told to Eleanor Higginson