Candidate Profile: Tressa Belesi

Orbital Magazine interviews Presidential candidate, Tressa Belesi.

Tressa Belessi, 4th Year MA Public History, President

What are your motivations for running?

I’ve been involved in student politics ever since I got here and I’m passionate about inspiring change. I definitely think as the SU undergoes its democratic review that I want to be a part of that, especially as a student who was involved in liberation work –  I feel like I have unique perspective on what a democratic structure should look like to be effective.

What are your key manifesto points?

Centralisation: I want to make the SU more centralised through a single Union Council, made up of representative positions from the existing councils. I feel like people who are focused on equalities, opportunities and education issues should be meeting in the same room which should hopefully increase turnout.

Communication: Another big one is introducing a termly question time at a single Union Council. There will be a question time broadcast by media outlets allowing students to put questions to senior management in the college. Having them immediately answer to us gives us as a Union more bargaining power.

I also want to introduce bright ideas reps who are solely in charge of bringing the ideas forward to Union Councils.

Sexual Assault Awareness: I am also very passionate about this as well, having been involved in campaigning behind closed doors with current VPs. If elected, I will ensure that it will be picked up through implementing an anonymous form and continuing to work with the college on preventative measures and disciplinary procedures.

How would you introduce preventative measures on campus?

There are a couple starting now such as retraining College staff on SU nights, as they are not up to date on what is considered sexual assault and what they could be doing as bystanders. Another one is introducing a mandatory online course that you need to take during freshers week and a lot of signposting that notifies students that we do not tolerate this. The more that we talk about sexual assault is also preventative measure in itself, as more people know it is unacceptable. At the moment we are working with the College on reports that are not taken forward to the police so that the College have the authority to take those reports forward and pursue disciplinary action.

What happens if the College are not willing to cooperate in your time as President?

I’m a direct action girl. I think that the Union needs to be political and be loud on campus.

On that note, there has been a notable shift towards friendliness between the college and the SU. Would you maintain that or seek to change that?

I think it depends on how reactive they are to our demands. I will not go in there being aggressive as it is important we do maintain a friendly and appreciative relationship. But I know that if things don’t go the way students want them to go, I am willing to stand up for what students are saying and what they believe in and in that case I will encourage direct action.

How are you going to work with representative roles?

I think we need to move elections to the fall to improve turnout. We also need to invest more training into our representatives and supporting them through communication and setting clear expectations within the role.

How would you increase the financial transparency of the Students’ Union and do you have a financial plan of action?

One thing that I want to introduce is an SU rewards scheme, which will make you feel like you are getting something for your Student Opportunities membership. Being able to receive an award for your loyalty would help understand where money is going.

This is also where I would find my question time helpful as it should help ease communication and understanding of finances allowing students to hold the college directly accountable.

So, what would you have done differently as President this year?

I think improving College accountability. I think the SU underplays the relationship it has with the College a lot because they think it’ll disenfranchise students. But students need to know that we are meeting with these people behind closed doors which is what my question times will be for. I know that I also want to take our Liberate Your Curriculum campaign further. I know I and other students are very passionate about it. I want to mobilise departments and get public written pledges so that we know where we stand. Natasha has done a lot of hard work that needed to be done – my idea would be taking it forward, making it more public and making sure everyone engages with the topic.