This year, the Postgraduate Students Officer Hustings (2019/2020) saw a single candidate in the running for the position of Postgraduate Officer, namely Angela Paul Peter. She previously held positions such as Assistant Director of Professional Development within the Rotary Club UNM (2016/2017) and Audit Committee member of the Human Resources division of IChemE (2014/2015) and now aspires to explore more of her capabilities.
About the Candidate
Angela first began by introducing herself as an experienced Nottingham student, having spent 5 years here from a fresh-faced foundation student right up to qualified PhD student. Her introduction was met with some surprise from the crowd when she mentioned she had only started her postgraduate studies about 2 weeks ago. However, it should be noted that after completing her undergraduate studies, she worked for a year in the engineering industry, giving her a steadfast work ethic. She then decided to come back to her second home: University of Nottingham Malaysia.
Being a newcomer to the postgraduate course, however, did not stop Angela from presenting a solid manifesto filled with ideas to assist the everyday postgraduate student in any difficulty they may face. She began by mentioning her first proposal to implement a mentor and mentee system in which junior postgraduates would be paired or grouped with senior postgraduates, with the help of the administrative department of the Graduate School. This system, she promised, would assist postgraduate students, especially international students, in getting to know their way around the campus and the town better.
Second on her manifesto was the motion of discussing with the sports complex management to automatically book badminton and futsal courts weekly for the postgraduate students. This was to ensure that, since the courts tend to be booked mostly by undergraduate students, postgraduate students would not have to venture off-campus for their sports activities.
She also as her third point states that she would like to open up an online database in which the research of previous postgraduate students would be displayed as a reference. This is also meant to give more recognition to the research conducted by these students, not only to help other UNM students such as undergraduates but also for the benefit of other local and international universities.
Ultimately, Angela seemed determined to try her best to accomplish the goals she presented.
The Q&A session was a truly insightful one, with questions coming from parties such as the Elections Committee, the Students’ Association (SA) team and other lay members of the audience, leading to a range of perspectives being heard.
The SA President, Sara Siddiqi, was quite active in this matter. Following Angela’s proposal of holding sports activities among postgraduate students, she highlighted how the Sports Complex is often booked, thus questioning the feasibility of such an initiative. To this, the aspiring candidate responded by saying that she plans to work with the Sports Complex’s staff and establish a schedule which will suit all parties involved.
A recurring issue raised by various members of the audience was the lack of participation felt from the part of postgraduate students. Indeed, apart from the fact that she was the only one running for the Postgraduate Students Officer position, it has to be noted that the audience comprised of only 2 other Postgraduate students. Angela acknowledged the gravity of the situation and argued that one of the reasons for this might be because postgraduates are not properly informed of events like these.
She then reassured all those present that she will tackle this by engaging and communicating with her peers to a larger extent than what has previously been done. She first stated that this could be done by sending emails; yet, when asked about the effectiveness of using this channel to reach people, she hinted that this might be problematic and hence suggested that elected representatives of the Graduate School could come to different classes or create short videos to present their job and outline some of their plans.
Finally, as a way to remedy the existing cleavage between undergraduates and postgraduates, Angela would organise coffee sessions or dinner events. Final year students would be her primary target as they are, in her opinion, likely to be more interested in knowing about future studies or career prospects.
In essence, the hustings enabled the audience to get a better idea of how the Graduate School and the network of Postgraduate students run. Angela seemed motivated and enthusiastic about representing her peers and working with the SA. As she phrased it, ‘I’m here to serve them’. And we wish her best of luck for this enterprise.
Written by BÉNÉDICTE ANTHONY and GRACIELY ESTEFANIE RODRIGUEZ O’HARA
Photos by Zao Shang