Building on a vague manifesto, Ajeetpall began his speech saying he believed in maintaining and improving the ‘efforts’ of past officers and possibly introducing new ideas that would improve the quality of life on campus.
He promised to improve on existing platforms, by working alongside current officers. He said that his manifesto was inspired by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Apart from that, he brought up the topic of mental health frequently in his speech which he intends as his main focus as a Sustainability Officer. His plan regarding mental health awareness is to improve on existing activities such as Chillax Lah!, largely by making it a more ‘permanent’ event. However, further details on how he planned to implement it were not forthcoming.
He also talked about creating a new platform for students to communicate issues they face to the management. Answering a question about how it would differ from existing comment channels, Ajeetpall replied that it would be via facebook with comments filtered by the Sustainability Network to ensure relevance. Finally, he suggested that more dustbins and recycle bins should be added to improve cleanliness.
Question and Answer Session
He was questioned on how the existing bins were not being utilised effectively already – for example non-compostables were being thrown into the food waste bin. Ajeetpall suggested making clearer and more noticeable labels. He agreed that liquid waste should not be poured into the food waste bin and promised to think about possible solutions for disposing liquid waste.
In addition, he mentioned regular checks on the bins, a point which he dropped upon further inquiry. Other members of the audience stressed that perhaps it was not infrastructure that needed improving but people’s perceptions. However, he did not engage with that idea significantly. He did round off by saying that we needed to work on it as a team and we have to lead by example.
A member of the audience asked if Ajeetpall had any concrete plans for sustainability apart from improving on existing plans. He replied that the priority of his campaign is the community, in terms of mental health and ‘togetherness’. He reiterated his plan to raise the awareness of the existing event, Chillax lah! by making it more ‘permanent’.
His prior leadership experience came up as a question. He replied that he had no prior experience in UNMC but had engaged in extracurricular activities in school. He rounded off by making the oft heard promise to give his hundred percent commitment and hard work.
The Student Council President raised the issue about the removal of the Green Team this semester and inquired as to Ajeetpall’s opinion of it. He admitted that he did not know about this but said he would bring it back without explaining why.
Then, he finally addressed the question about new plans by saying that he would ‘figure it out along the way’ because ideas would naturally come when facing the issues. He said if he were to address the environmental aspect, he would come up with ideas with his team and the Nature Club.
In conclusion, Ajeetpall seems to focus mainly on mental health and to a lesser extent on environmental issues. He does not seem to have concrete ideas apart from wanting to ‘improve’ upon existing plans and his plans are too vague to make any conclusions about.
Ahmed Juman Rasheedh
The second candidate Ahmed began with defining sustainability: the fulfilment of present needs without sacrificing the future – the United Nations definition of sustainable development. He stressed the importance of sustainability, and that our carbon footprint is environmentally unsustainable and coming from Maldives, he has personal knowledge of the consequences.
He plans to have environmental awareness programmes throughout the year, which seemed to be namely a marketing and promotion initiative through social media, posters and booths. His other plans include increasing volunteer interaction with the community garden, installing more motion-sensing lights and drawing up an environmental ‘charter’ to ensure that all clubs and societies improve waste management and reduce energy consumption.
For the social aspect, he suggested organising a charity challenge where groups of students compete to raise the highest amount of funds for a charity of their choice. Another suggestion of his is setting up permanent donation boxes for students to donate reusable items such as clothes.
He listed his work in a central bank and a tax agency in addition to his participation in Enactus as experience that would help him in his role as a sustainability officer.
Question and Answer Session
He was questioned about how he planned to increase volunteer involvement with the community garden. He said it would be promoted to students by emails and social media such as facebook. He went slightly off-topic enthusiastically adding that information boards should be put up around the plants.
Ahmed failed to answer the question on the changes he would make to Chillax Lah!. He suggested vaguely that similar events should be organised.
An attendant questioned Ahmed’s ability to make a difference as the sustainability officer due to his lack of significant contribution in Enactus. Ahmed defended himself saying that he is a regular member without any positions so opportunities were few. However, he still made the most out of it by completing all given tasks and participating in the organisation of the upcoming Enactus event, Zero to One: Social Entrepreneurship Skill.
He was asked about what he was going to include in the environmental charter. He did not seem to have any concrete plans but mentioned it would include points about reducing waste and getting clubs to reuse materials from previous events. Posters would have to be printed on reused paper. It would encourage people to use the bus instead of cars. The suggestions did not seem like a charter but more of a listing of ‘How to be sustainable’. Perhaps he was unaware of what a charter document entails.
When asked how he would enforce the charter, he replied “I cannot force them since it will be non-binding but I will try my best to convince them.”
He was thrown the question of whether he had the confidence of achieving everything in his manifesto given constraints on approval and time. He expressed full confidence in that and ended off saying, “Dream big and achieve big”. An SA Exec later emphasised to him that he was not there to dream big but to make promises to the student body.
He was asked about his views on the SDGs and whether he would incorporate them into his plans. He replied that he did plan to include them all in at some point. There was a follow up question as to how he planned to address Goal 14 on Life Below Water. He admitted that that was one goal he would not be able to achieve.
In conclusion, he seems to have some plans as sustainability officer that perhaps might be beyond what is realistically achievable for him. He could improve his knowledgeability of SA procedures and sustainability in general to make his plans more detailed.
Written by Ed Yong Zhien Bao and Lhavanya
Photographed by Joann Chua Rou En