Thinking of running for VP Societies & Sport? Current Officer Alex Parry shares his experience in the role as he looks back to some of the most important moments, his biggest challenges, what he has gained, and his election experience!
Thinking of running for one of the four full-time Sabbatical Officer roles in this year's SU Elections?
To give you a flavour of what being a Sabb entails, we've enlisted the help of our current Officers who took time to answer questions including what their roles entail, what they've achieved so far, what they've gained from the role, and what their experience of running in an election was like.
First up is VP Societies & Sport Alex Parry, who will be sharing his experience in the role as he looks back to some of the most important moments.
VP Societies and Sport
It is worth mentioning here that this is the second year of this role, and the first year we have been able to run in-person student group activities, so the role needed shaping and developing into what the student body wants and needs, and that work is still ongoing! My day-to-day life in this role really does vary and there is no such thing as a normal day. The fundamental of the role is to be a representative Student leader and to develop the support offered to all student groups on campus.
Most notably, I help with the running of all groups wherever possible! I am always here to chat to any group, offering advice when I can, and just generally supporting and cheering on each group! I work closely with the University's Active Lifestyle and Sport (ALS) department, building close relationships that aid the development and offering of sporting activity on campus. I am also responsible for lobbying the College wherever needed to constantly work to better the student experience.
I also took up a role within British Universities Colleges Sport (BUCS), where I represent the voices of the London region as a Student Chair, to hold BUCS accountable and to provide them with essential feedback which will improve their offering to the student body. This role was completely voluntary, and you wouldn’t be expected to take this on as well, but it has given me so much vital experience and insight!
As well as being a Student Chair for BUCS, I also chair regular meetings of the Societies, Sports and Opportunities (SSO) Executive. SSO is a democratic function where I get essential student feedback on projects, ratify new groups, approve the annual allocation of resources to groups, and much more!
As well as the student and College-facing parts of the role, you will also be expected to be an Officer Trustee. Being a trustee is a very rewarding experience for all officers as we get to, alongside external and student trustees, get to be a part of the overall direction of the Union and are legally responsible for everything the SU does.
Since starting the role last summer, I have been a part of a wide range of projects and discussions. In my first few months of the role, I was able to remove all costs related to the sports pass introduced by ALS in the previous year, as well as deliver some Student Group Training sessions to our committees, helping them get set up for the year. I was able to help deliver an extremely successful Freshers' Fair, having over 3000 students attend, as well as being a big part in the delivery of other large events which are yet to happen, such as Varsity and student group awards evenings.
I have also supported and guided eight completely new groups, as well as helped many older groups come back to be active again. With SSO we have also had crucial conversations around the new Freedom of Speech bill, student safety, and large events I have been planning like Varsity! I was also able to launch one of my manifesto aims, End of Term reviews for all student group committees, as well as carrying on Lucy Brown's work from last year bringing Committee Café's in person for the first time!
I have been able to grow and develop so much during my time in this role, from developing my public speaking skills and delivering talks and presentations to hundreds of people, to learning how to truly flesh out a small idea into a huge project plan. The list goes on for what I have learned and gained from this role, and it will continue to do so until my last day! The biggest thing I have gained from this role is my confidence, with me learning how to Chair and take part in high-end decision-making committees, grasping the attention of a whole room of people you have never met before, and effectively conveying my point to people who may have a different perspective!
My biggest personal challenge is managing my time and the workload! I am constantly in and out of meetings, which always generate lots of tasks needing to be done, leaving little time for me to get on with my own independent work and often leaving me not able to attend as many student group activities as I'd like to do! There are so many things I really wish I could do and cram into this year, but being realistic with myself and making sure I don’t burn out is also really important, the role is only for a year so prioritising what to do is key.
What I have loved the most about this year has been watching so many student groups get up to so many amazing things after the difficult past couple of years we have all faced! Seeing all of them come together, deliver so many amazing in-person activities has truly been an honour to have been a part of.
I have also loved working alongside some of the most incredible people. The permanent staff within the SU are so kind and supportive to all officers and have helped me navigate myself and the work I do throughout this year. I have also loved being a part of the Sabbatical Officer team, meeting some of the most amazing people, and creating so many memories with all of them that I will always cherish, my year this year would not have been the same without them!
Running in an online election was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, but it was all so rewarding and I would encourage anyone to just go for it!
During the process, you put yourself out there in such a way that is so unlike anything else you are likely to experience. To stand and have a reach to over 10,000 students is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can give you so much experience for future professional development, no matter what the result is!
This time last year, I was terrified of how daunting it all seemed but so are all candidates! The election process is such a high-pressured time, and there are so many staff members on hand to help and support all candidates! And of course, if you have any questions about the role, please do just drop me a message!
Like the sound of what you've read? Nominations in the SU Elections are now open – get more info and nominate yourself below, or drop an email to Phillip.Dowler@su.rhul.ac.uk.
Read the Job Description
Stand for election
Nominations close at 23:59 on Sunday 6 February.
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX