This is a question that I am asked often, by students, staff members and my proud-but-not-sure-why family. I figured it was time for a blog to explain what our purpose is at the Students’ Union and honestly, why should you care?! Quite often, thanks to old episodes of Hollyoaks, students think that ‘The SU’ is the bar on a campus. Sure, the SU Bar and the Quad are part of the Students Union and we are rather proud of it. But in terms of what we are all about, events are just the tip of the iceberg! Generally speaking, the whole point of a Students Union is to make life better for students. Sometimes that is running campaigns (Such as EHSU <3 Consent and Rate your Landlord) and sometimes it is representing student views on panels and committees (and boy do we sit on a lot of these!). The SU consists of the four elected officers – a Vice President of each Faculty (Education, Health and Social Care & Arts and Sciences – Me!) and a President, plus a whole host of full time staff who work behind the scenes on things like volunteering, societies, advice and all the things that go into our events and campaigns! Representing a whole host of students is a hard job. We have introduced some new part-time liberation and sections officers this year to help us with that and they’re already doing a great job! We have to get feedback from students to know what needs changing, and we do this through our network of course reps, surveys (like the NSS!) and just from individual students with something to say. A union can evoke change. One student with a passion, an idea or an opinion can make a difference and we in the SU are here to facilitate that. We have a pretty amazing Advice Centre who offer impartial advice about housing, benefits, academic issues, (I can’t take any credit at all for this!) who have helped a huge number of students. The SU is, even if I say it myself, pretty damn amazing!
I’ve noticed recently that I am working harder than ever, but because it’s not all on something visible like a campaign or an event, it may seem as though I’m doing nothing. I am sat on various committees and steering groups full of Big Cheeses within the university, representing the student voice where it counts. I’m in a group who are working on the best ways to support students in order for them to get the best degree they can. I’m in talks with a whole bunch of people discussing how we can improve employability, and I’m even working on something of my own to help with this. We are all doing Periodic Reviews, which is a big, official process in which all courses must be reviewed every few years by a board to ensure it is working efficiently. I am trying to train over 100 course reps and taking in feedback via these guys on what to work on in the next few weeks. I meet with so many different departments in the university, FM, Academic Registry, Teaching Staff, Learning Support, everyone to see how we can work together for you the students. Those things are not fun, or attractive, but they are necessary and I’m weirdly enjoying doing them! This job is never the same two days in a row and it makes for interesting “work”. But the whole thing, our whole purpose, is for students. So get involved! We are here to listen and help change things for the better, whether you drop a Facebook message about a campaign idea or come up and chat about academic issues, it’s the only way we know what to work out – from you!
Don’t forget that these roles will be up for Election in March (eek!) and you could have my job! If you want to know more about this, or anything at all we do in the SU, please ask!