Beaver

What differentiates the Education Officer candidates running in the SU’s election?

The Beaver asked the candidates running for the positions of Education Officer to answer three questions that can help students better understand what each of the candidates stand for and, more importantly, how exactly they plan to achieve what they are setting out to do.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some answers have been condensed for clarity.

  1. What differentiates you from your fellow candidates?
Emerson Murphy“I set up the University of London Rent Strike, winning contract releases and 90% rent reductions for those unable to return to halls, have campaigned for fee strikes, and worked with the NUS President and the Rent Strike Network. I will use my experience within the student movement to fight for pandemic compensation and make education more accessible to all.” 
Grace Chapman“I’m not running on generic buzzwords and empty promises. I want to make tangible change at LSE, and the upheaval of the pandemic has opened the door for a real difference to be made.” “I’ve been at LSE for the last 3 years as an editor on the paper and a society president – I know what students want, and they deserve transparency over the key issues they care about”
Dhwani Goel“I have three years of experience in student representation and leadership. Some of my goals are an extension of the work I have undertaken as a current member of the Academic Board.” “I am the only postgraduate and the only student from a non-western, international background running for this position – two constituencies that make up such a significant portion of our student body, yet remain underrepresented at the SU.”
Robyn McAlpine “Last year I studied abroad at UC Berkeley – being in a place that is so committed to being inclusive and sees many student protests has given me many ideas of how things could be improved at LSE.” “I have spent the last year working in the Students’ Union and understand how to navigate it effectively to bring about change. I really enjoy chatting with different students and would be committed to hearing their views and fighting for the changes they want to see at LSE.”
  1. Describe how you plan to achieve your major manifesto promises?  
Grace Chapman“I will work with department heads to review assessment diversification, ensuring that accessibility remains moving forward. Issues with course selection and departmental collaboration often occur due to red tape. If there are issues, we need to review the system, and foster those closer ties across the University. I will work closely with SSLCs and ensure that student voices are actually being listened to, and bring society leaders into the mix – they often become specialists in their special interest and that is an asset. Whether it’s the ‘Equality in Education’ society, the Pride Alliance or Green Finance – we can learn from our own students.”
Dhwani Goel“My priority is to diversify education. I will bring it to the attention of the SMC that current plans have been unable to address the dissatisfaction with western-centric curricula, using testimonials from academic rep surveys and Decolonising LSE. I will get in touch with departments that carried out reading list diversity analyses to share their results and then liaise with the Eden Centre to discuss opportunities for structural changes. I want to ensure that student input and lived experiences are fed into all discussions. Finally, I will consolidate these efforts to lobby for increased funding and researchers dedicated to diversification.”
Robyn McAlpine “Mandatory consent and I&D training for all students and staff:Build on the work by current C&WWork closely with Sabbatical Officers to integrate these activities into students’ return to campusLarge group activities that acknowledge diversity at LSE and small group workshops (in subject cohort groups to help students build relationships with course-mates and create safe spaces in classes).Lots of working with societies/students to make these trainings most meaningfulEnsure that this takes place alongside real actions by the university too
Study abroad: support the Global office which I have a relationship with, campaign nationally to improve the Turing scheme.”
Emerson Murphy“I am helping to organise the Goldsmiths fee strike, and am involved in discussions with the current Education Officer about an LSE fee strike. I know the power of collective action through the success of the rent strikes – students can win when we unite! I will empower students to suggest ways to make changes to their courses, and work with grassroots student groups to decolonise the curriculum from the bottom-up. The ethnicity and class educational attainment gap needs to be tackled. I will lobby for more financial support for those from underrepresented backgrounds, and argue for a contextualised approach to admissions.”
  1. Addressing the following themes has emerged as a shared priority among most candidates this year: diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. For one or two of these issues, tell us how your approach to addressing them is unique or better than your fellow candidates and those who have held the position before? 
Dhwani Goel“My action points for addressing curriculum diversification have emerged from weeks of research. I attended panel discussions, reached out to experts and read LSE’s current plans to identify points of weaknesses and improvement. To my knowledge, no other candidate or forerunners have made curriculum diversification their top priority. I believe only a person of colour who personally feels that their education does not reflect their experiences is best suited to address this issue. My approach is driven by personal dedication towards this goal, expert insights, and recognition of the fact that decolonization is a long-term process that requires consistent effort.”
Robyn McAlpine “I take a community approach to these issues: Whilst tackling access to resources and representation, I want to ensure students feel like a valued part of LSE and tackle imposter syndrome. Creating a sense of community in departments and supporting GTAs with paid training on creating welcoming class environments and supporting diverse needs can facilitate more engaging classes and allow all students to thrive academically. My community approach extends to how I would act as a Sabbatical Officer, I’m committed to hearing from students, acting on their behalf and working with societies to implement their suggestions to improve equality in education.”
Emerson Murphy“Diversity, inclusion, and accessibility must be at the heart of the SU. I will engage with students to decolonise the curriculum, ensuring that the diversity of our community is reflected in the courses we are taught. Implementing compulsory consent and implicit bias education will be central in a wider effort to stamp out sexual violence and racism at the LSE. The attainment gap needs addressing – pushing for more financial support and diversity among teaching staff. I will also oppose the Hostile Environment Policy against international students, resisting international fee rises and ensuring we all have a voice in our education.”
Grace Chapman“While excellent work has been done on these issues this year, there has been a massive lack of transparency. Some things have changed – work on digital funds for accessibility, stronger EDI committees in departments – but a lot of this is superficial. If we want to make a difference we can’t just throw out buzzwords like ‘decolonise the curriculum’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘mental health.’ We need to start ACTUALLY doing something to make tangible steps towards seismic change in these areas. If we collaborate, between Sabbatical Officers, departments, from grassroots to the very top – we can address these issues and move forward as a stronger LSE community.”

To see all of the candidates running for this position go to lsesu.com/vote.

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