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YUSU Elections 2016: Community and Wellbeing Officer Candidates – Dom Smithies

Credit: YUSU
Credit: YUSU
Credit: YUSU

Dom Smithies, also known as Dom ‘Smoothies’ Smithies, is running for Community and Wellbeing Officer. He aims to support student-run organisations like Nightline and use his experience to improve student’s lives whilst at University.  

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Hi! So I’m a 3rd year Philosophy student. In terms of what you want to know about me personally I’m pretty much an open book in terms of my interests. If anyone would want to listen to me talk about any of it all I could talk forever! I’m quite nerdy, I miss Willow too much, I have an affinity with chickens and am rarely seen without glitter. In terms of what I’ve done at Uni… I’ve been heavily involved in my college (Alcuin) being both the President last year and the Vice Chair for Welfare in my first year. I’ve been a Course and Department Rep in Philosophy. I’ve been on committees of various societies – PhilSoc, HazSoc and LGBTQ Social. I’ve volunteered with Kids Camp twice – amazing experience, cannot recommend it enough! I even tried out rowing in my first year so I even *attempted* sports. I practice yoga to keep myself in shape.

Why were you inspired to run for the position?

The degree is going fab! It’s challenging, granted, but I chose the subject because I enjoy it. While I probably should spend more time on it I’m glad I’ve taken the opportunity to get involved in all that I have and I’m somehow getting by without failing everything so it couldn’t be better! Working with all the other colleges and part time officers to collaborate on wide-scale campaigns actually made a difference in the services we worked with and for the students we represented. I was nominated for Welfare Volunteer of the Year, my welfare subcommittee (who were outstanding, I could not have achieved anything without their endless support, enthusiasm and drive) were nominated for best welfare team and we had one of our campaigns get nominated for campaign of the year. Working with so many people and making that little difference for other students put that spark of inspiration to aim higher and do more – and here I am!

Why do you think you are the right candidate for the role?

First, I think my experience is relevant. Across all the roles I’ve worked with college welfare, with welfare services and liberation networks. I’ve run a wide variety of successful campaigns throughout my time at University with all the teams I’ve worked with and utilising the Liberation & Welfare Committee can bring many more wide-spread campaigns to the Uni. My policies are designed so they’re achievable and can either be an immediate practical difference for current students or they’ll lay the groundwork and work towards making real change in our facilities and services for the benefit of students to come. I also think I’ve got the right character for the role. I’m approachable, I like to engage with students and facilitate and support all the ideas they have and work they want to put in!
Which of your policies are you most excited about?

It might not sound too exciting, but I do think the Liberation & Welfare Committee can use a lot of revamping. The campaigns that could be run by a committee who are structured and purposed more effectively could have more impact and would do more good for the students of the Union. Focusing on mental health is also something that I’m really key to hone in on and vastly improve. So is supporting the student-run services like Nightline and also working to improve services like Open Door so people are in good hands when they need somewhere to go.

Who is your biggest competition?

Both! They’ve got great ideas and each with their own strengths. I wouldn’t say I’m worried because this is how democracy works. It should be a fun race whatever the outcome.

If anyone, who are you backing for YUSU President?

I’m still not even 100% sure how I’m voting myself – it’s such an interesting race. Policies are going to make all the difference. But I want to make sure they’re prepared to reinforce the focus on mental health and know how to work with colleges, because that is a large part of the role. Working with Sam and Ben during my year as Alcuin President gave me good insight into the role and the candidates need to know how to support colleges as well as possible!


Voting is now open and closes on the 19th of February.

Interview conducted by Matthew Edwards.