A budding student politician has launched his campaign for student president by parodying hit singles from the likes of Adele, Bruno Mars and Macklemore – but promises that he “will do more for students just make a great video”.
Toby Gladwin, who is currently in his third year of studying Ancient History at the University of Exeter, in Devon, hopes that his alternative manifesto will strike a chord with students on campus and make them more engaged in his campaign.
Through various guises in the video, the 22-year-old highlights the key issues affecting students enrolled at the university, promising to address available study spaces on campus, introduce bike exchange schemes and improve provisions of cooking facilities, such as microwaves and kettles.
Whilst his policies might be pragmatic, Gladwin, who grew up in Colchester, Essex, certainly had fun being creative for the campaign, despite three days of filming and editing from 8am to 2am, telling HuffPost UK: “Honestly it felt like we (myself, Josh Faux the videographer and Rob Cross the director/producer) were at a festival all over campus and the city because we had to squeeze so many shots into such a small amount of time.
“It was so much fun to film and I love the [Macklemore] coat now!”
Finding people to feature in his video was not an issue; Gladwin said that friends were more than happy to help the music video become reality, and people about campus were more than happy to jump in shot.
“No one really knows what wins a student election whether it’s talking to people around campus, strong social media or a good manifesto. We’ve tried to do all three but the video has definitely helped spread the campaign around Exeter students.”
Parodying has become a popular trend particularly with young people who rework earworm songs to garner support for particular causes. Carefully considering how best to avoid cheesy SU promotion videos, Gladwin was inspired when his brother showed him a similar campaign from three years ago at Royal Holloway, London. “We wanted to make something new and engaging. The songs are incredibly catchy and the lyrics lent themselves to being edited.”
Gladwin, a big Game of Thrones fan and craft beer enthusiast, has already been active on campus throughout his time at Exeter. He helped to cofound the Real Ale society, and is currently President of the Classics society as well as Societies Executive Officer.
For all his many talents, however, singing is not Gladwin’s forte. He told HuffPost UK: “I wish I could claim it was me singing! The soloist was Michael Luya, a good friend of mine and part of the award winning a cappella group Semi-Toned.”
Nonetheless, the video has proved popular amongst students on campus, who have reacted positively to his election campaign. Gladwin says it has been a real confidence boost to hear people’s reactions and have students stop him to discuss the video and tell him how much they enjoyed watching.
Balancing his many hats is an easy feat for Gladwin, however. “Honestly I don’t see it as student politics. For me, it’s more about being part of a great community of students that enjoy life at university.”
Voting in the University of Exeter student elections is open until Friday, February 12th, with winners announced the same evening from 7:30pm.