VP Services & communication
SU Leadership Race
It all seems so long ago now that nominations opened and we were underway to find out who will be members of next year’s exec and leaders of the Students’ Union. I spent most of the week balancing meetings with staff and students with spending time on the squares talking to candidates but, most importantly, encouraging students to exercise their right to vote for the next leaders of the SU.
When I was not on squares encouraging students to vote (although I was usually met with the reply “yeah, I’ve already voted” that I had become very much used to back from when I was campaigning for my position) I was attending the debates and seeing what all had to say and then, most importantly, I hosted the results night itself alongside my ravishing counterpart Tom Hunter. A huge shout out has to go to Rebel for their role during the Leadership Race – it was a completely student-led broadcasting series and was carried out fantastically and, above all, professionally.
I would also like to extend a big “well done” to Robert Veliant, Bethanie Watts and Tancrede Chartier who ran for the Services and Comms role – they all did a great job and had great manifestos. And, of course, congratulations to the eventual winner: Tancrede!
Fresher’s Page and Social Media Comms
Now, as most people must be aware, the Fresher’s Page has quite frankly blown up over the last month. It is always interesting for debates to ensue surrounding issues and topics of current affairs. I feel, in my personal opinion, that some conversations became debating semantics whilst others descended into personal comments being made against others. Regardless, it is fair to say the ordeal has been controversial. The exec stepped in to moderate some comments made that were reported to us as admins and what was believed to have been the right actions were taken – the pace that arguments were unfolding and the constant need to answer students and diffuse situations, however, led to quick decisions being made.
I believe, therefore, that a lot of the last month has been talking with students, not on the public platform that is the Fresher’s Page, but via email and direct contact. I have met with various students and mediated their concerns face-to-face and have various other meetings pencilled in over March. I feel as though the Fresher’s Page blew up in a short window of time and quick decisions were made – I believe now we must learn from what has happened to allow for a more structured response in the future. Although communications falls to me, the situation required a full exec response. What I have started, and will continue into March, is how communication will improve in the future using the events as an example – this I will keep the student body informed of in due course.
Transparency in our services
I have been working with venues and retail managers to develop a plan from which our services can become more transparent. Essentially, we want to address the trend of feedback we receive from students that our retail and venues outlets are here simply to make a profit. We want to show students how much our services make but, most importantly, where the money goes. When speaking to students over February, many did not truly grasp the financial structure of the SU and did not realise that the money made from venues and retail outlets is pumped back into the SU to allow us to fund other services we offer – SU Advice, the Safety Bus, most of the great stuff we do!
We are working, therefore, as to how this will be communicated in a way that is easily digested as opposed to pages and pages of documents that prove tedious to read. This will involve more conversations with students and managers alike as to how this will prove successful.
I reacted to a student question on the Fresher’s Page asking why the University saw it fit to build more tennis courts as opposed to more parking on campus by setting up a meeting with the University’s Transport Policy Co-Ordinator. We sat down and mapped out the current parking spaces offered and the current policy enforced surrounding parking permits and spaces. We discussed potential remedies for the parking situations and I have seen plans that the University are considering in order to create more parking spaces. With sabbatical backing, the Transport Policy Co-Ordinator is speaking to the higher powers of the University (I’m talking Registrar level) to ensure that parking is a high priority and is acted on in line with increasing numbers of students and the building of new facilities. I will be meeting with her regularly for updates.
Improving the Student Staff satisfaction
Although over three quarters of our student staff have rated the SU as an amazing place to work there is always room for improvement – we want to be hitting 100% satisfaction. I have been looking at the concept of Staff Comms and utilising it more than it has been in the past. For those unfamiliar with the process: Staff Comms is a meeting, a forum if you like, for representatives of our service outlets to come and raise issues, ask questions and challenge decisions made internally based from feedback in their area. These representatives are student staff members; every venue and catering outlet owned by the SU has a representative whilst retail has one who is responsible for The Store, The Extra Store, Everything Essex, The Burrow and The Kitchen whilst the SU Reception also has a rep. I have been looking to move Staff Comms away from a forum and into a committee from which change can be born and put into action. So far, contractual information and changes have been discussed, as have incentives. I will be working closely with these reps to improve our services and laying foundations for which my successor will be able to use the committee – it will essentially have a very important role to play in the SU.
SU Lounge – Southend
I’ve been travelling to our Southend campus and talking to students and Ernest, our VP Southend, about the future direction of the SU Lounge. Whilst we have been finalising the acquisition of an alcohol license for the venue, I have also been working with retail to secure the storage and sale of University of Essex merchandise on their campus. I am looking to ensure merchandise is available for graduation and Fresher’s Fayre in Southend but we are exploring how merchandise can be available all year round. I am also scoping out the exact merchandise that students would want to be made available in Southend.
“What is this University of Essex merchandise?” I hear you say. It can be ordered here: http://www.everythingessex.co.uk/Products_B2-2.aspx
I know some of my other updates have been essays to read, so I will keep the rest short and sweet (but further information will be provided as and when is necessary of course.)But fear not, the Exams Campaign is going ahead to help you with the exam or dissertation related stress that inevitably comes with a degree. We are looking to produce a campaign packed full of useful resources and visual aids alongside old favourites such as Exam Angels and the free fruit wheelbarrow. More info to come as we finalise plans.
Sub Zero is 10
Sub Zero has turned 10 and we want to throw a big party to celebrate! We are currently brainstorming what will make the week great and what elements of “wow” we can inject to the campaign – and that’s all I’m saying. The rest is a secret. You’ll have to wait and see.
The Summer Ball: one amazing night that takes months of planning. We’re well into the planning process now and we’ve started to confirm acts. We’ve been meeting weekly to share updates but we’re getting closer and closer to our priority service opening up and are thus ensuring that we are on track (don’t worry, we are). Keep your eyes posted for more information.
I helped to book and organise the Oscar Night with the Film Society in the SU Bar which was a success. It’s been great to host late night events – from the American Election Night (of which was also set-up by societies coming to me with ideas) to the Super Bowl. What next? Well, there are a few things in the pipeline but off the back of society event successes in our venues, there’s no better time to drop me an email and we can sort something out!
Post Room and post policy
I had a tour of the University Post Room and a chat with the relevant people within the department in regards to post policy after a few student concerns. Thankfully, the clarity provided has helped to address these concerns. Plus the tour was nice – my Dad is a postman so I have a biased disposition towards finding the concept of post a fun entity.
Rebel – Interviews for Media Heads
Helped with the interviews for new media heads of Rebel. Not much more to say here as at the time of writing this I haven’t yet met back with Pete to reach a final decision but we will be in the next few days (from writing this). So, yeah.
I’ve also been helping to address various SU Reacts in regards to door staff, prices and the provision of different facilities on campus or in our service outlets.