Your Students' Union is an independent, autonomous part of the University - we're always on the side of students. We're a charity - our resources are spent on the interests of students. But we're also a mutual, co-operative association – we are led and governed by students for students.
That's because we're a democratic, student-led organisation – after all, you folks elect the leadership of the Students’ Union annually. And here's where I'd like to pose a few questions: Does the current leadership structure of the SU allow you to vocalise the improvements students require on campus? And, following on from that, are you able to effectively feed in your ideas to our Councils and All Student Meetings, and work with the structures that exist at the SU and the College to implement change?
I’d suggest the answer is probably a series of painful groans around the sometimes bureaucratic nature of doing any of the above.
We had a pretty good turnout in our Officer Elections (up there in the top quartile of Students' Unions in the country), but the same can't be said about our policy votes and referenda such as the UCU strike support vote last year which had a disappointing level of engagement.
I believe students should always be involved in decisions that affect them because, in our Union, collectively students know best. That means that we’ll have to come up with more relevant, up to date and innovative ideas and solutions for decision-making that has been driven by students if we want to ensure that that belief is an actual reality.
That’s why, following the success of asking an external consultant to conduct our Academic Representation Review last year, we have recently engaged Jim Dickinson – from changesu and of wonkHE fame - to conduct a review of the Union’s democratic structure, including our Officer positions, meeting structure and decision making processes.
Jim has so far met with panels of students from our three Union councils, Union staff, and College staff who are involved with the SU (such as Deputy Principal (Academic), Professor Katie Normington, who attended Education Council recently).
We want to know what decisions in the Union you would like to be involved in, and to what extent. So we’ve launched a survey to capture your views, which you can fill in here. We will review the results with Jim and keep you updated as to the findings, and what suggestions Jim has for improving democracy at RHSU.
Take the Survey
The survey is open now and will close at midday on Friday 14 December. Upon answering the survey you will be entered into a prize draw for the following prizes:
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
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The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
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