Impact caught up with the Students Union Executive Officers to see how they are getting on after their first term at the helm of the SU.
Alex Corck-Adelman (President)
What have you achieved so far this year?
The biggest thing that I was handed over and told I’d be working on is the restructure of the senior management team. We’ve handled the redundancies of the senior management team and have gone through the recruitment process and appointed a new Chief Exec, who’ll be starting towards the end of January, so we’ve been without the most senior member of staff since end of September now. In terms of things on the ground at a shorter-term level, most of them are still on-going really. The main things I’ve spent a long time working on are the exec review, which is part of the referenda that will hopefully be happening in February.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
To ensure that the referenda happens and happens smoothly, and then if they are voted ‘yes’, help to implement those changes before we finish our term of office. I’ve got a meeting with the Director of Information Services about my campus card scheme which was on my manifesto and is something that I’m still really keen to push for and I would like to get to a position when I leave of having agreement from a number of parties.
If the referendum passes for allowing two sabbatical terms will you run again?
I was one of the most keen people to be on Exec – I really, really wanted it and I am enjoying it – but I wouldn’t run again because of the restructure we’ve been going through. I think it would be really good for the organisation to have a fresh start. So I’ve essentially just guided it through this period of instability. It would be best for the organisation to start from scratch almost and then start to work on developing the union further, and I think it would be hard for me to do that having the year that I’ve had. I think if there were projects that I could see needed taking on that would make me run again but no, not intending to run again.
Are there any policies which you’ve struggled with?
Car-parking on campus. From September they’ve introduced car-parking charges on campus, and they haven’t really left any room in there for any discretion. Obviously if you’re working on campus and getting paid to do it, paying 100-200 quid for parking isn’t as bad as if your volunteering or doing something for a Student Run Service such as Impact, NUTS, Tec, but you still need that car, you don’t want to be paying 200 quid of its budget to pay for it. I’m still struggling with it and I hope we will make some leeway on it.
Danny Barry (Democracy and Communications Officer)
What do you think is the most important thing you have done since becoming the Democracy and Communications Officer?
Probably the thing that I was most pleased with was taking the plan to council about the referenda. Getting it approved by a two-thirds majority was probably the high point so far because I didn’t think that it would pass as easily as it did, and because I’ve spent much time on the whole project of democratic reform. It was good to see that councillors were happy to let it go through and be decided on by students.
During your election campaign you mentioned that you wanted to reach out to students on a face-to-face basis. Would you say that people know who you are?
Well I don’t whether they definitely know who I am, but I’d say that I have really made an effort to go out and do as much face-to-face interaction as I can. One of our main aims this year was to make sure that we interact with students as much as possible, and we’ve really made a concerted effort to go out at every opportunity; we call it ‘ GOATing’ and it stands for Go Out And Talk to students. During Freshers’ Week we were around every night to help the Week One Exec, and this provided us with a great opportunity to meet new students and talk to them. We use Twitter and video logs as well, which we put on the website to try and keep people up to date with what we’re doing. I’d say that’s one of the things we’ve worked hardest on. I think that that’s really been lacking in the last few years. When I was campaigning, I was asking students if they knew who the Exec were and no one could name more than two people, so hopefully by the end of this year people will know who we are, and how the SU exec can help them during their time here.
One of your pledges was to encourage faculty coordinators to meet with students from their schools, because students don’t even know who they are. What have you done to help the situation?
Well so far, that’s one of the main things I haven’t really managed to get to grips with. Because of how busy everything else has been, in terms of referenda and preparing for the possibility of democratic reform, it has been on the back burner slightly, which is a real shame and something that I am going to address after Christmas, when I am hopefully going to be working with Elizabeth Goddard (Education Officer). But it is crazy this year. I know everyone always says, “I never get a chance to do my manifesto pledges”, but it is very difficult to manage the different aspects of the job whilst dealing with all the things that come up. However, I will get that done because I hate people making excuses.
Another one of your aims was to make sure that the media Student Run Services were working to their potential, so what have you done to ensure that they are the best they can be?
Well, what I did this term was to try to set up fortnightly meetings with the SRS heads, to try and find out what the issues were that were affecting them, like if there was any way I could be of service to them to make sure that they got more publicity, or could work or operate as well and fully as they wanted to. The first meeting went really well and there were ideas coming up and a few things that were quite easily addressed, and there were a few things that were highlighted to me, with regards to the direction that each SRS was heading. Since then it has been quite difficult to get everyone together. We still maintain regular contact through email, and the meetings are something we are trying to keep going but it is difficult because the three of them are incredibly busy balancing their SRS commitments with their academic workload. As a result, fitting in an hour on a Monday morning isn’t always their primary concern. I’ve tried to remain open and accessible so that they know that they can come and speak to me. And I do drop by their offices to stay in touch with what they’re getting up to. . But I think over the coming months, with coverage of big events such as The Summer Party, The Big Ask, Varsity and SU elections, working closely with the media SRSs will be really important.
More interviews coming soon.
Daniel Fine & Dammy Ikeola