Nona Buckley-Irvine


It all started when...

"My role is a bit unusual because it doesn’t involve the conventional job application system - I’m elected by the student body and so the application process is a week long election period. I wanted to become General Secretary because I was both demotivated and motivated at the same time by my experience at the LSE. In my first year, I was really disappointed by the student experience and felt that LSE wasn’t quite up to scratch socially. The SU put on hardly any social events, a core function of any SU, and this was definitely a factor in why I felt isolated in London and at university. So, I joined certain student societies on campus such as Raising and Giving (RAG) as an Events Officer and hosted events like Freshers Ball, and wrote for the student newspaper to try and feel more engaged with LSE. These roles really helped me to appreciate how fantastic LSE is and think critically about what the SU should be doing for students.

Finally deciding on going for the role came from realising that in order for something to change, someone needs to change it. I felt that with my experience, I would be well placed to do so. I love working with students, organising events, and meeting new people - meaning this role was perfect for me.

On a more political note, I had been involved with student politics during my time at LSE by sitting on the Academic Board, the highest academic authority at the university. For two years I had been listening to how LSE was at the bottom of the Russell Group in terms of student satisfaction - something which is simply not good enough for an institution claiming to be the world’s best social science university, and consistently ranked high in league tables. Striking the balance between world class research and students being taught well by these excellent researchers is something that I feel extremely passionate about and also wanted to change by running for General Secretary.

LSE Students Union is an amazing organisation because it involves so much. To start, it represents students to the university and the wider world. Within my role I will be sitting on LSE committees about personal safety, teaching, ethics, finances, and much more; representing LSE students' views on these matters.

Then it is responsible for providing services to students. We have a gym, sports facilities, cafes, the Three Tuns Bar, music rooms - to name a few. One core function will be to oversee this provision and push to improve these facilities and make them accessible to everyone.

A vital component of the SU is also supporting societies and clubs and helping them to develop. We have the highest number of societies in the country, and it is crucial to make sure that they are well supported and integrated within the SU. Our sports clubs also act as the lifeblood of the SU and part of my role will be working to promote sport at LSE and make sure it is adequately funded.

Lastly, the SU is simply there for students - it’s in the name. It caters for the diversity of our students through different events, supporting them during their time at LSE by providing relevant information and advice and support services. The SU is there to make sure that every student feels like they have a good student life while studying, and my role will be to direct this, and promote student involvement.

I’m not quite sure about what I want to do in the future yet! I used to want to be a journalist and writing is a passion of mine, so possibly after my time as General Secretary I will try to pursue that. Otherwise, I studied BSc Philosophy as an undergrad, which was definitely a good grounding in life but not sufficient - I want to know more about the real world! I would quite like to do a Masters in Cape Town in something like International Relations, or possible at SOAS. Development is something that I have become very interested in and would like to work on - either by being a journalist or just developing my own views about what global development is good for.

Given that being LSESU General Secretary required being at the LSE, it has undoubtedly helped me to get to where I want to be. Running for this job is not something that I’ve planned for a long time, but doing all the different extra curricular activities and getting so involved with student life inadvertently set me up to consider running for this job.

Back in 2009 when I was applying for university, I wanted to go to LSE to challenge myself, my views, and try and get out of my town, Crawley. Four years on, I can say that I have definitely achieved that. It sounds cliched but my degree, and just being at a quirky institution like the LSE, has really helped me to develop an appreciation for the social sciences and think in less dogmatic terms about issues (I was a former die-hard Labour voter). I’ve had a lot of opportunities such as receiving a scholarship to study in Cape Town for a summer school which also taught me a lot and showed me a world outside of Crawley and London."