Her Campus caught up with Nicole Ocansey, a 3rd year BA Sociology student from London. Nicole filled us in on her ideas for the future of UoN’s SU, including plans for a more approachable Union and increased focus on the mental wellbeing on University of Nottingham students. She also disclosed her top secret hangover cure and a penchant for a certain British politician…
What is involved in the role of being President?
As President of the Student’s Union, you are a figurehead. But most importantly, you are still an officer and any officer has to listen to the students, see what they want, present it to the Union and try to make changes for the better.
And what would you say are the key parts of your manifesto?
One of my biggest manifesto points is to do with the Union itself. A lot of people don’t really know what the Union is or what the officers do, so I propose S-You Wednesdays, as a way to celebrate everything the Union already has, as a showcase for the talent societies have, as a way for students to access help from the Careers Service and Mental Health Service and also just have a good time! I think students turn to the Union when things are wrong but it is actually also a source of fun and support as well.
I also believe that mental wellbeing is important to a lot of students here and I want to tackle the stigma attached to mental health and really what constitutes a mental health problem. A lot of students think that their own problems aren’t big enough and therefore don’t need help. Actually, there are all kinds of levels of support available to the students of Nottingham and I would like for more students to feel able to access them when they need them.
Which do you think will probably be the most difficult to implement and why?
I think mental health is probably the biggest area to tackle because it’s not just an issue at this university – it’s a societal problem. Individuals within this society have real difficulties talking about mental health and defining certain problems as being ‘mental health’ problems as opposed to being just personal issues. But I believe that beginning with students is a great way to tackle issues such as mental health; if students at Nottingham feel comfortable talking about such things, hopefully, they’ll move on into wider society and take what they’ve learnt from here with them.
Who do you consider to be your biggest rival this year?
I think everyone running for President is true competition. It’s going to be one of the toughest races yet and I have a lot of respect for all the other candidates in terms of all the work I’ve seen so far, especially from the manifestos. I’m really glad that all the students who have chosen to run for President are running, as they all have real concern for the student body so I couldn’t say that one individual is bigger competition than another because in the last few elections, there have been some real surprises. I don’t want to jinx it!
That’s fair enough. But what do you think makes you right for the job, above everyone else?
The reason why there is an annual election is so that the officers are different people with changing perspectives, so the difference between other candidates and myself will vary from degree, background and just general student experiences at Nottingham. Things I consider important, if I win the election, will be put to the front of the SU’s agendas. I think I’m right for the job this year because a lot of my concerns, I believe, are quite current issues for this Student body. I have a lot of experience in the Union already, I understand a fair bit of how it works and also, I think I could bring a fresh perspective to a Union which has a lot of potential.
How do you feel about taking a year out to focus on being President?
I’m in no rush to be employed at all. I think a lot of people around me are often like ‘oh I’m so old’, when actually, at the fragile age of 21/22, we have a lot of time ahead of us and because I’ve had such a good experience at Nottingham, I do think that I could definitely spend another year here, ensuring that more students have a happy time like I have had. I’d be happy to take a year out to give back to the university that has given me so much.
Ocean – yay or nay? Yay! Oh my goodness, YES.
What’s your dream job? I’m really into photography, especially mobile photography – I don’t mean selfies and what I had for dinner! I have quite a cool Instagram account which is focused on architecture and landscapes so that’s a fun fact that most people do not know. So my dream job would be to work for VSCOCam which is an online community for editing and sharing photos such as those. Or to be director of Twitter UK. I would absolute love that.
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Oh I had a Costa coffee, how disappointing. I should’ve had porridge but I had no time!
What’s your personal miracle hangover cure? Okay, I swear by this, before you go to bed that night, a pint of water with a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt – you drink that before you go to bed and you will wake up flawless.
Are you serious? As in, this is the only way I’ve made it through university. It’s basically the same recipe as Dioralyte. It will change your life, you will wake up feeling fresh. I honestly don’t get hangovers and that is probably one of the reasons why.
I’m definitely going to try that from now on. Now, are you a spender or a saver? I am such a big spender, I’m so sorry Mum and Dad. But if I was elected President, I would be a good budgeter, I’m just not good with my own money!
If you could be an animal, what would you be and why? I want to be a slow loris, they’re quite lemur-esque. They’re really small with big eyes and they’ve got tiny hands. And they just chill and eat rice balls. Yep, I want to be a slow loris.
Got it. Fun fact about yourself, claim to fame or special talent? You know when you play ‘one truth one lie’, I always use the same truth/lie. I’m going to use it now – is it true or false? I was a Pampers baby model.
You’re an enigma. Last but not least, snog, marry, avoid – Nigel Farage, Piers Morgan and Boris Johnson. Easy. It starts with avoid because I’m not a big fan of Nigel Farage, sorry. I think Boris Johnson is hilarious. I would marry him but he’s had affairs, not to say Piers Morgan hasn’t. I’d snog Piers Morgan and marry Boris. He mentioned ‘Wiff Waff’ in a speech at the Beijing Olympics and I’ve loved him ever since.
Is there anything you’d like to add at all? I think the most important thing is to vote for the right reasons. Every student should cast their vote but in terms of who you vote for, it’s really important to read through every single manifesto, even if you think ‘oh I’m leaving at the end of this year’. The power of the student is something that has been really underplayed in recent years. Read every manifesto and don’t just vote for whoever your friend might be voting for (feel free to put me second if you are going to vote for a friend!) Don’t vote for gummy bears; vote for real, feasible change.
Edited by Sam Carey