Here at RHSU it can occasionally seem that things are happening behind closed doors, but we want to bust those doors open.
We are committed to being more transparent so that you have a greater understanding of how your Union is run, and how we make the decisions that we do.
During this academic year we will be conducting a democracy review, a tendered project which I be leading on. This review will look to address how students can be more directly involved in the decision-making processes within the Students’ Union, and how they can set our priorities in terms of lobbying and campaigning.
One particularly area that we want to be more open with you about is our Board of Trustees. Chaired by myself, and made up of a mixture of Sabbatical Officers, elected Student Trustees, and External Trustees, we meet every three months and are legally responsible for everything that the Union does - from the operation of our commercial outlets to the health and safety policies that govern our student groups.
On Thursday 6 September, I chaired the first meeting of the new academic year with our new student trustees and I am pleased to share with you some of the key topics we discussed:
The Board considered the final set of the previous financial year's accounts (our financial year runs August to July) and I’m pleased to announce that we've performed really well across the board with the various internal teams across the Union operating well within their budgets. Our Trading Services (Union Shop, SU Venue, The Packhorse, Medicine, Summer Ball etc.) delivered a higher than expected surplus which has allowed us to make a number of additional investments in services for you, including the refurbishment of the toilets in the main Students' Union building. Our full set of accounts for 2017/18 will be presented at our AGM in term two.
Board considered a piece of work that the Union's Chief Executive, Tom Flynn, and I have carried out, looking at how well the Students’ Union complies with the recently launched Charity Governance Code. There are a few actions for us – mostly in terms of helping students understand the role of trustees. In general, we perform extremely well, but we are always looking to improve and will continue to work to ensure we are fully compliant with the code.
The Board approved the re-appointment of Abi Jesson, Head of Membership Support & Engagement, as our Deputy Returning Officer for the main SU Elections, with the Returning Officer provided by NUS. For student group elections, Abi will act as Returning Officer with Dan Curran, Student Voice Manager, as Deputy. The rules were also approved, with one change this year – the start of physical and online campaigning will be merged into a single date following feedback from candidates in last year's election.
Most people assume that everyone attending university is over the age of 18 and while this is true for the majority, there's a small minority of 16 and 17 year old students that join each academic year. That means that as a Union we need to be proactive in ensuring they can safely enjoy the services offered by the Union and with that in mind, the Board approved our new Safeguarding Policy, which sets out our approach to regulated activity with under 18s and other vulnerable adults.
As well as all the items discussed above, the Sabbatical Officers gave updates on their plans and progress so far, there was an update on the Media Charter referendum scheduled for Term One, and the trustees got a tour of the newly refurbished Medicine which is looking fantastic!
I hope the above is of interest to you all, and I will continue to update you on the meetings that take place throughout the academic year. As always, if you have any questions or queries about any of the information above, or would like to find out how you can get involved in the Union’s decision-making processes, feel free to email me.
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The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX