Doing Democracy Differently

Jack O'Neill, President

One of our core functions in supporting you and making student life better at Royal Holloway is all based around democracy. As Sabbatical Officers, we are your elected representatives, and we also have a huge range of amazing students who get involved in our other activities and democratic functions.

Why is it being done differently?

You may have noticed, or you may have seen/heard on the news that there is a global pandemic going on right now. This has meant that our organisation is operating slightly differently, and this includes staff and Officers working from home. Whilst to some degree, we are doing business as usual in continuing projects, research and lobbying work, this is obviously in a completely different environment. Like all those that are studying or working from home, it is important to remember that you aren’t just working from home – you are at home during a global pandemic, and attempting to work.

The ways in which we interact with you are different. The issues that we interact with you on are different. The ease at which we can conduct our activity is different, and the circumstances we all find ourselves in are completely different.

We will try in our earnest to do some things as we normally would in the office, but to view everything as continuing as usual would be naïve and ignorant to the unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in.

Sabbatical Officers

As has been mentioned on previous occasions, all of us Officers are working from home and ploughing on with representing you: whether that be in University meetings, reaching out within our virtual community, or working hard on projects. We are still here to lobby for your interests. We have seen the results from Kate’s extensive lobbying on academic matters, we have seen the impact of our joint letter with the University on housing and we will continue to work hard in these areas.

Lucy has been working away on projects that will soon come to fruition, notably enhancing areas of digital outreach, whilst Phia and Dom are continuing to support the development of groups (more on that later!).

We are going to continue to have your back, but also bear with us as we all adjust. Some of us, like yourselves, have changed where we are living, are getting used to our new surroundings and various other commitments, such as caring for others. Many of you may not know, but I myself am in the ‘high-risk’ category, and therefore my own normal way of living has completely changed, with all the stresses that come with that.

Academic Reps

Our Academic Reps are still busy representing your academic interests across the University with Staff Student Committee (SSCs) still taking place through online forums. We have also seen Reps be really proactive in their approaches, finding ways to keep in contact with University staff and represent you. They are here to represent you academically in this challenging time – you can find out who your Academic Rep is here.

As always, and perhaps now more than ever, please do keep in mind that Reps will be going through their own challenges right now and may be pre-occupied with other priorities so engage positively with them and respect the boundaries. If you have specific matters to raise, then it may be best to get in touch with your module convenor directly.

Student Groups

Our Student Groups have truly been doing some outstanding stuff over the last few weeks, finding new and exciting ways to engage with their members and creating a brilliant community of students.

We are still working hard to support you in your (virtual) activities, with lots of planning underway so we are always there for you – check out more here.

Nominations are now open for our next generation of student leaders looking to empower, mobilise and bring together student communities at Royal Holloway – nominate yourself now!

Representing you never stops

As you will hopefully have seen over the last few weeks, just because of all these changing environments, we aren’t stopping in our main role to represent and work for you. Thankfully, a lot of our democratic functions can be moved online (or already were online, such as elections) which has meant we have been able to hit the ground running! So whilst things may be different, as everything seems to be right now, our values and mission to improve student life at Royal Holloway doesn’t change.

I hope you are all safe and well, if you ever want to have a chat with us – we are just one click away!