By Natasha Porter and Lara Weibecke
Election season at LSE is now underway and there are currently 14 posts up for election. The Beaver asked the candidates running for Postgraduate Students’ Officer a few questions to help students get to know them. The Postgraduate Officer is responsible for representing all postgraduate students across the Student Union and will become the fifth Sabbatical Officer at the LSESU. Polls are open from Monday 25th October to Thursday 28th October. For information on all the candidates running in this election and information on how to vote go to https://www.lsesu.com/voice/elections/vote/
Please note only the candidates who have responded to The Beaver are included in this article.
- Why are you running for this position?
|Shruthi Dileep||“LSE attempts to create a pedagogical space that makes students feel included and at home. However, it is important that we ask ourselves whether LSE is sufficiently inclusive or just accessible. Not all of us experience LSE the same way and it is imperative that nobody feels excluded. My decision to stand for this position comes from my commitment towards making LSE a more inclusive space especially for post-graduate students from ethnic and gender minorities where they are better represented and provided with opportunities that can help them reach their full potential.”|
|Leo Lindenschmid||“Student representation and committee work are my passions! Moreover, I am a very open, communicative and outspoken person so I would love to represent the postgraduate students. It was possible for me to already connect with other students before university started and I have met many of them personally now I am in London. I believe it is important to know the wishes, questions and possible hardships of students to be a good representative. I would look forward to working together with other LSESU officers to create a more inclusive campus and to make LSE a safe space for everyone.”|
|Vaibhav Sharma||“Postgraduate students have a great opportunity to enhance their experience during their masters through proper engagement and mentoring. The issues that we have faced, may they be initial support for international students, constrictive careers support, or the uncertainty of hybrid teaching, should not be faced by the next cohorts.”|
|Bennett Sherr||“I am running for this position because I see some of the issues that LSE needs to address (namely sustainability and course enrollment protocols) and I believe that I have the experience to address them. I’ve served on the University Assembly at Cornell University where I advocated for fossil fuel divestment, LGBT Rights, and student protections. I also served as a bargaining representative at a summer camp I worked at where I negotiated wages, working conditions, and saved several jobs in the process.”|
|Nina Soszynska||“I want LSE postgrads to be able to get the best out of LSE to do their best at LSE. Many of us are only here for one year and do not want to miss out on what LSE has to offer because of an uncoordinated course selection process or teachers refusing to host online seminars for late arrivals. I would love to use this year to ensure that students can benefit from existing opportunities at LSE so that they can also contribute to the community.”|
|Matt Wilcock||“I keep learning and re-learning this super cliche lesson in life – it’s better for all when we support each other. I took some time out since my undergrad and ran a company creating community gardening groups. There, I learnt if we all support each other 1% more, then it’s 10x better for all of us. That’s why I want more student community class organisers and more of us signing the Nightlife Pledge, helping each other get home safely. That’s my philosophy – not “you’ve got this” but “we’ve got this!””|
|Esinam Yevu||“I believe in the power of using one’s voice for a greater good, the potency of receiving community support and the long-lasting impact of peer-to-peer collaboration. The desire to strengthen these elements as part of any postgraduate’s study experience is the reason why I am throwing my hat into the ring.”|
- What differentiates you from your fellow candidates?
|Shruthi Dileep||“I think what differentiates me from my fellow candidates is the battles I had to fight as a non-male from India to reach where I am today. The issue of inclusivity is close to my heart because I have experienced exclusion and it isn’t something I want others to go through. Furthermore, while I was an undergraduate student in Kerala, I was involved with student politics. After I completed my undergraduate, I worked with UNICEF Lucknow on the implementation of a gender-sensitive curriculum in Uttar Pradesh, India. I was also briefly involved with the Kerala State Planning Board where I worked on the impact of Covid and the subsequent lockdown on the tribal population in Kerala, especially in terms of domestic abuse. These are some of the experiences that have helped shape me as a person and my political views. At the same time, I find my fellow candidates extraordinary and it has been a pleasure getting to work with them.”|
|Leo Lindenschmid||“What differentiates me from my fellow candidates is that I am extremely enthusiastic, energetic and motivated. My personality and campaign are colourful and manifold. I am a very empathic person which helps me to understand the special circumstances of different students. Moreover, I like to bring people from different places together and foster an inclusive, integrative community. Since (mental) health matters a lot to me I already founded a support group for LSE postgrad students which I would like to expand. In addition, I love to get to know other students by participating in student societies and clubs.”|
|Vaibhav Sharma||“I come with over 5 years of experience across consultancies, NGOs and governments and would love to use my learning and network to create a system where postgraduate students do not have to over-think the prospects of recruitment. The idea is to bring jobs to the LSE campus. My focus is also on what happens with us once we graduate. Improving the experiences of Alumni is also of great importance. Access to LSE campus, email ID and careers support should be for a lifetime.”|
|Bennett Sherr||“I am the only candidate focusing on addressing the issue of sustainability. I want to support the university through fossil fuel divestment, a much needed and overdue policy that is very difficult to accomplish. I also want to implement a Tree-Per-Graduate commitment where the university would pledge one tree to a reforestation campaign for every degree that it awards.”|
|Alexandros Skouris||“Studying Molecular Biology & Genetics and conducting research in Crohn’s disease while founding a multidisciplinary research team has provided me with experiences that can contribute significantly to the LSESU. Furthermore, I was involved in the cultural association of my university and at the same time I was participating in activities with social impact and simulations of national and international regulatory bodies. I came to LSE to gain skills in health policy and economics, even though I aim to continue for a PhD in biomedical sciences, in order to be involved in policy while being an expert in a biomedical field. Scientists should be more involved in decision making since their aim is to serve society.”|
|Nina Soszynska||“Having done my undergrad here it took me a long time to warm up to LSE. I would love to apply what I learned from that experience to ensure that fellow students feel part of LSE for good reasons – that they can feel heard when they ask for help and know that their ideas transform LSE while they are still studying here.”|
|Matt Wilcock||“1. Being approachable – I mean have you seen my “Cock, Matt Wilcock” campaign video? (Instagram: vote00wilcock) You can speak to me any time. Really! If you see me on campus, have a chat.|
2. Experience – I used to run a company creating community gardening groups. I won the Mayor’s Medal and RHS Community award for my efforts to tackle isolation, and involve people who are not part of community initiatives.
3. I’ll listen – I wrote my manifesto based on a survey of almost 100 students. I’m always happy to listen. Share your thoughts with me here: https://mattwilcock49.typeform.com/to/kF6KHIxq“
|Esinam Yevu||“I am interested in seeing each person I connect with flourish and attain their highest potential. From serving as a Career Launch Pathfinder where I curated opportunities, mentorship, and knowledge to help undergraduates transition into new jobs, to spearheading an Africa-wide competition that saw 2 students gain high school scholarships to study at a top Swiss school, I have kept at the core of my career journey people and their growth. I am excited about being able to continue doing this, understanding our unique community and tailoring efforts to promote its holistic wellbeing as part of a team.”|
- What changes would you like to see at LSE and how do you aim to implement these changes?
|Shruthi Dileep||“I believe that one major aspect of inclusivity is having access to food that is healthy and subsidised. I propose to implement this by setting up a community kitchen that not only offers subsidised food but also part-time job opportunities for students. I also aim to establish a system that will provide additional academic support to students who need it because not everyone is used to the kind of rigorous academic training that LSE offers. A more networked infrastructure across departments that will facilitate liaison with department representatives to holistically understand and campaign for course-specific needs is also part of the agenda.”|
|Leo Lindenschmid||“I would like to see more diversity, inclusion and integration of students with different ethnic backgrounds, classes, genders, sexualities, disabilities and so on. For example, the lectures, seminars and societies should be inclusive and accessible to everybody. By accessible I mean that every person should be able to participate and feel comfortable. Moreover, I see the need to make the (mental) health of students a priority. For this reason, I would like to extend the student support group I have created. Finally, I would like to bring the LSE community closer together by organizing academic and non-academic activities.”|
|Vaibhav Sharma||“I would love to set up a student-led recruitment cell that initiates on campus placements and internships. This can be achieved by targeting the large employers and start-ups in niche fields. NGO showcasing and internships provisions is one way I plan to bring the development sector to the campus for recruitments.”|
|Bennett Sherr||“Sustainability, Sustainability, and Sustainability! LSE can and should be doing more to reduce our overall carbon footprint and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In order to do this we need to divest from fossil fuels and create a Tree-Per-Graduate program. I plan on accomplishing this by engaging different organizations, departments, and student leaders to apply pressure to make sure these issues are addressed.”|
|Alexandros Skouris||“Inclusiveness. While LSE has such a diverse student body, living in London and paying for the current tuition fees restricts the inclusiveness of our university and does not promote equal opportunities. I aim to discuss with all the relevant stakeholders and take action in order for LSE to maintain its diverse body and promote even more equal opportunities for prospective students all around the world. Last but not least, I aim to build a strong network of postgraduate students across departments by organizing interdepartmental events.”|
|Nina Soszynska||“I would like to ensure LSE is a safe space for everyone – this ranges from mandatory consent training, more accessible amenities, socially distanced study spaces for vulnerable students, to non-alcohol based socials to include non-drinking students. I also want to improve opportunities for peer-to-peer collaboration beyond the classroom. This could range from more informal interdepartmental socials to using moodle to create study groups and share resources.”|
|Matt Wilcock||“1. Create tools to help all students better manage workload & stress like Grade Calculator on Moodle and a mental health first aid training programme.|
2. Let’s make Summer FUN & inclusive!! (when PG students are still studying). BIG Summer ball and encourage all societies to keep holding events over the summer.
3. Niche point – but look it up. We have “Change Agents” at LSE. These students research and write important reports about Uni Life. Give these people study credits. Make being a “Change Agent” a module – then we have loads of people making our shared experience better! WE ALL WIN.”
|Esinam Yevu||“As a new postgraduate student myself, I am still learning and observing our community. However, three things I would like to see as pertains to student support include the following: |
1. Sample student views post-admission to gather insights on roadblocks so as to improve the admissions experience for incoming classes 2. Create “Break Time” hotspots on campus to encourage students to breathe and reset while on their journey 3. Increase the number of tailored employer events that expose students to work opportunities
I see myself working with the Students’ Union and multiple LSE stakeholder groups to make these initiatives happen.”
- What traits and/or experiences do you have that will help you in this role?
|Shruthi Dileep||“My campaign is already speaking a lot to diversity, and I believe that sincerity is one aspect of it. We understand the need for diversity and inclusion, but I understand that it is not about having diverse people, but actually giving them spaces to express their own needs and thereby shape the institution itself. I have been working towards giving space for marginalised voices and an example of it is the digital publishing platform I run that provides a voice for marginalised voices in literature.”|
|Leo Lindenschmid||“During my undergrad studies in Politics, Administration and International Relations, I made lots of experiences which will be helpful for the role as postgrad officer. For example, I was speaker of the first-year students and I represented all students on my programme. During my third year I was studying at the University of Cape Town where I had experiences in intercultural studies. When I returned to my university in Germany, I got elected into the diversity initiative and helped organise our diversity week. Moreover, I was a student research assistant and organized the international student research conference.”|
|Vaibhav Sharma||“I am a Computer Engineer by training which gives me the understanding of using technology for delivering benefits across the spectrum of my manifesto points.”|
|Bennett Sherr||“I have served as a collective bargaining representative and negotiated contracts for myself and others. In addition to this, I have worked in the United States Congress where I have championed pro-labor legislation and prepped Members for meetings with world leaders. Lastly, I served as the Undergraduate Representative on the equivalent body at Cornell University where I championed progressive and pro-student policy. I believe that I have the experience and vision to succeed in this role and humbly ask for your vote!”|
|Alexandros Skouris||“Taking groundbreaking initiatives, representing my classmates, coordinating teams, organizing international events and striving for inclusiveness.|
Specifically: Representing the undergraduate students in my previous university’s external evaluation.Coordinator of “Communicating Science to Non-Scientists”, Programme funded by European Commission’s Erasmus+ (10+ nationalities participated, priority was given to young disadvantaged people. Performance in a remote city in Greece and dissemination activities all over Europe)Group Leader & Activity Organizer of Science Communication workshop that was selected and took place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg during the greatest youth European event.Alumni of European Youth Parliament (EYP), Erasmus Student Network (ESN). Cultural Association of my previous university (Dance, Theater, Debating, Fundraising)”
|Nina Soszynska||“I have represented my secondary school of 700+ students and held various roles in the LSE PPE society. I believe these experiences have given me the necessary skill set to work with and for peers. They have allowed me to contribute to and feel part of a community which is a feeling I would love to share with my fellow LSE postgraduates.”|
|Matt Wilcock||“Experience – check out my previous work Insta @Matty_the_Gardener. I used to run community events to tackle isolation and help people with poor mental health. I’ve learned that community creates the cure (the term is “social prescribing”). You get 20 people in a park talking to each other, friendships are made, and people feel better. It’s simple stuff and I want to make sure everyone at LSE has a slice of this.|
I was a student newspaper editor when in undergrad and this way I learnt that FUN is the way to engage people. Insta @Vote00wilcock … or fun for me filming my campaign video ahah
I’m excited to hear from you.”
|Esinam Yevu||“For this role, I bring a desire to connect with my peers, openness and a willingness to learn to the table. For me, these are far more important than the hard skills I have leveraged over the past 6 years to support the growth of teams and organizations. This role will bring its own unique opportunities and hurdles, and while I prepare to learn on-the-job, I believe the soft skills I mentioned earlier hold more weight to ensure a successful tenure.”|