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Blog: Supporting Democracy Review Proposals

I’m sure most, if not all of you, have heard by now that the Students’ Union has been conducting a Democracy Review since August. Dom and I have had the pleasure of being involved in every step of the discussions, and as such have fed into the recommendations that we as a Union are hoping to move forward with.

One of the biggest changes that we will be looking to implement would be moving away from having separate VP Societies & Media and VP Sport roles, and combining them into one Sabbatical Officer position: VP Sports and Societies.

Whilst I understand that for many of you this may seem like a big change, please let us set out why we think it’s a great idea that will ultimately give students, and committee members of clubs and societies a much better experience.

Representing the student body

The role of a Sabbatical Officer is to be there as a representative for the student body. We are here to campaign, lobby and question on behalf of you, the students, on issues that affect all students across campus, nationally and internationally.

As the current VP Societies and Media, and VP Sport, Dom and I hold specific remit of representation over the student groups, and student opportunities side of the Union.

Whilst meeting with and campaigning for students and student groups is our priority, we are also involved heavily in a number of Students’ Union and College committees, which the two of us attend together.

These things, alongside our manifestos should be our priorities - unfortunately being in the role this year has taught us that this simply isn’t possible in the current model.

With the sheer volume of administrative and organisational processes that go alongside student groups, Dom and I have effectively been working as staff members, alongside being Sabbs just to ensure that student groups can continue to function.

Answering 300+ emails per week, sorting room bookings, facility allocation, event proposals, risk assessments, fundraisers, guest speakers, email and IT queries to name but a few, are just some of the things we are currently doing, that we shouldn’t be.

These are some of the things that have been distractions when it comes to fulfilling manifesto pledges and it’s frustrating. These are also the areas where student groups are most irritated – sending in an email and not getting a reply for two or three weeks affects the way your student groups run, and we know this.

What's the solution?

So here is our proposed solution: we join the two current roles into one, and employ another full-time staff role within the Student Opps team - someone there to help you with your admin, your finances, your committee documentation, PO’s, IT problems - someone to make administration more efficient and effective.

This would then leave the Sabbatical Officer to carry out their manifesto pledges. It would allow them to develop their relationships with key stakeholders, and long term strategies that will enable student groups to grow.

There is a lot across sports, societies and media outlets that we should both be lobbying for - namely space and facilities, accessibility (be that physically or monetary), and the welfare and health of members.

The merging of the roles would allow one Sabbatical Officer, with extra staff support to work on meeting the needs of all students engaged in groups across the Union.

We would encourage all students to attend the Students’ Union open meeting from 13:00-14:00 in Medicine on Monday 18 March. We will be there to answer any questions, queries or worries you may have.

 

Find out more about the Democracy Review + give feedback

Holly Hughes // Vice President Societies & Media

Dom Brown // Vice President Sport