Joe Caunce - Activities Officer Candidate 2014

On Monday we met with Joe Caunce, one of the candidates for 2014 Activities Officer. The 2nd year History student from St. Albans told us about some of the great work he’s done for charity since he’s been at Uni and his passion for getting everyone involved in societies. He also revealed a genuine phobia of Lord Voldemort and an impressive family connection to a musical legend…



We had a stalk of your campaign page and it looks like you’ve been campaigning VERY heavily. How are you bearing up? Do you ever sleep?

Yeah, we’ve been out every night – it’s taken a lot of coffee! It’s been nice this weekend because I haven’t had to be at any meetings. I don’t really want to take my foot off the pedal at the moment because it’s so important to have a big online presence and on-campus presence so people know who you are and what you want to do for them – I just need to keep going for a bit!


Tell us what’s involved in the job of Activities Officer.

Activities Officer is the link between the guys behind the SU and the societies. It’s a little bit like the Activities Officer is the politician and those within the SU are the civil servants. The Activities Officer is the face of societies and various activities who deals with students on a personal level and also should provide more support and interaction with societies. At the moment, the role is very much being the ‘face’ of activities, which is important but I think it should be more of a personal approach.

Essentially, it is the face that societies should go to when they have questions or concerns that should be dealt with by the SU as a whole.


Would you be looking after sports to any extent as well?

No, the Sports Officer deals with that. But there are some societies which are sports-based, just very casual. For example, Jumpers for Goalposts is a society where you can basically have a kick-around – it’s not serious football at all, just playing spontaneously for the fun of it! I like the simplicity of it!


Talk us through the ‘best bits’ of your Manifesto

My overall theme is ‘Be Involved’; I think all students should be involved in some sort of society, because involvement in student services and societies is pretty much what moulds your university experience. Without societies, you’re not far off being back at school in my opinion!

So I have six main policies. There are some that are more aimed at getting new people involved, and some that are more to do with making life easier for people already involved.

One of my ways to get students more involved is the Society Credits. On-campus halls get £5.10 loaded on to their cards to spend on food every day; and because this is already paid from their rent, they use it. In a similar way, the JCR takes £60 from each student automatically to go towards their budget. If we added £20 to that and loaded it on to each student’s card as Society Credits, which they could use to join societies and clubs, it would massively increase participation because they wouldn’t want to waste society credits! Once you’re in one society, it makes it a lot easier to join others and start building a network.

Another policy is to bring the societies to off-campus halls. In first year I lived in Raleigh Park with a couple of international students. It was difficult to find Freshers’ Fair – I didn’t know where this tent on a random field on campus was! And for international students it was even more difficult because Freshers is such a British concept and they don’t really understand what’s involved! If we brought the most popular societies at Freshers’ Fair to off-campus halls, it would mean more people are made aware of which societies are available and have the opportunity to sign up.

Finally, there’s a new financial system coming in to place for societies in September, and I want to concentrate on training execs to use it. This means it’ll be tried out on societies and will hopefully make it easier for them to trace where payments and sponsorship money is coming from. The technology is coming into place anyway, but I want to make sure that it is tested and all societies agree it is a better system and that everyone can use it properly. If not, it’ll be back to the drawing board and I’ll make sure there’s a really thorough refurbishment of the system!


Which of your policies do you think will be most difficult to implement and why?

I think they’re all accessible because I ran them past the current Activities Officer – I don’t want to be a false candidate! But I think purely because of the time and energy required, my policy regarding an online forum for all members of society committees will be the most difficult to get in place. It’s a case of tailoring it to all of the societies’ various needs. Obviously I’m not a web designer, so it’s going to require some help from other people – but it’s still possible!


What makes you right for the job?

I’ve had immense dealings with the SU throughout my time at Uni. I’ve dealt with personal issues, management, safety regulations, and I’ve also been involved with societies as a member.

I’m very approachable, enthusiastic person who has got a real, genuine desire to see these societies prosper. I’ve had an unbelievable experience at Nottingham thanks to my society involvement and I really want to make this the case for everyone and improve on it too! I’m happy to spend the time making sure that my policies happen.


The Uni has a massive array of societies – which one do you most want to try out and why?

Hide and Soc! It just sounds so fun! Or maybe the Board Game society. I always spend my Christmas losing to my Nan at board games, so I feel like I should probably be playing these at a student level rather than her expert standards.


There’s no shame in losing to your Nan, don’t worry! How do you feel about taking a year out?

I wouldn’t take a year out of university when I’m technically already a year behind if I wasn’t passionate about doing this job. I have no idea who I’m going to live with in my fifth year but I’m happy to play it by ear!


You’ve done a lot of charity work – what’s been the most eye-opening experience for you through all of this?

Last year I was Kontact director for the Karnival Executives, and that means bringing the charity out to the community. So away from Rag Raids and Seven-Legged, Kontact is the volunteering aspect of Karni.

I implemented a project at the QMC. We’d do a weekly visit there, spending an hour a week on the children’s ward doing a bit of interactive learning and play, and we’d take them out on day trips to the zoo.  We also spent some time on the elderly wards.

I think a lot of students are so sheltered from what Nottingham is like, because we spend all our time on campus and we’ve got a straight bus to town or to Lenton. We never really interact with locals and it was so interesting to actually hear what life in Nottingham is like. For example, there’s a lot of crime. We just don’t experience it so much because students are kept very safe in comparison. It was really good to chat to people and improve the image that they have of students in Nottingham.



Ocean – yay or nay? 100% yay.

What did you want to be when you were a kid? I actually wanted to be a footballer and a lawyer at the same time.

So sort of balancing the two? Exactly! Part-time lawyer, part-time footballer!

Be honest – did you bring a teddy bear with you when you came to uni? I did – his name’s Harry. And unfortunately after 19 years of use, he’s now got big holes in him and he’s in a box at home - just chilling.  

Personal miracle hangover cure? Orange Lucozade and greasy food. That’s pretty much my Saturdays after Ocean.

If you were going on Mastermind, what would be your specialist subject? Maybe Classics, I liked that at school.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why? 100% a Zebra – although that is the theme of one of my opponent’s campaign branding.

You should have claimed it first! I should have done! It’s harder to brand than green though. Yeah, a Zebra because they’re actually really cool – research them!

Snog, marry, avoid – Katie Hopkins, Taylor Swift, Sharon Osborne?

I don’t know who Katie Hopkins is!

That really gobby one from The Apprentice? We show Joe a photo.

Oh I DO know her! Avoid her 1000%, I saw her on that Big Benefits Row show, she’s a nightmare. Then, I’d have to snog Sharon Osborne as long as it’s in front of Ozzy because he really annoys me.

Do you really want to anger him though?

Well he might bite my head off like he did with that bat, but I’ll take the risk! And then, marry Taylor Swift. Because it’d be tremendous to be married to Taylor Swift. My 22nd birthday is coming up around Easter too so she can sing 22 to me.

You’re going to have to work fast to get that sorted by Easter! Do you want to do the guys as well? Jack Black, Gordon Brown, Lord Voldemort?

I had nightmares about Lord Voldemort for years and years - I’m talking 4 years sleeping in my Mum and Dad’s room! So let’s avoid him. Now, can I avoid two!?

No you can’t! Come on, you’d have to marry Jack Black surely?

OK, yeah I’ll marry Jack Black. And then, Gordon Brown to snog, but only if it’s in the middle of a really important press conference. It would cause uproar – so more of a publicity stunt than a genuine snog.

Yeah that’s allowed! Got a fun fact about yourself, personal claim to fame or special talent?

My mum’s brother is the singer of Come on Eileen. Uncle Kevin! A fun fact is I was probably one of the ugliest babies ever born. I had a triangular head, my ear bent over and I grunted for the first 4 months of my life. I was probably like the worst baby ever. And my special talent is I can vibrate my eyes.

He does it. It’s terrifying.

I’ve been doing it since I was about 4!

I’ve got this image of you as some kind of devil child!

Yeah! Folded over ear, funny head, vibrating eyes!


Any final words for the voters?

Make sure you use your vote, even if it isn’t for me. Just check out the manifestos. The people you elect will have a massive effect on your university life. It’s our Student Union so have your say!



Check out Joe’s manifesto and campaign page


Edited by Harriet Dunlea