Candidate Questions: Student Activities Officer

How will you ensure that the position on the Societies Committee are contested and are not just co-opted on?

Arthur Pitt: You need to arrange meetings with all the groups and societies and get them to talk to one another. You need to chair a meeting and say ‘who do we think is representative?’ I think what’s important is that everybody knows what’s going on and you ask the majority of people what Societies Committee is and they’ll say ‘I have no idea’.

James Croydon: I think we need to make it clear that these are open meetings, and if people aren’t happy they can always show up. Certainly something I would hope we’ve done with RAG is to try to get a strong sense of what we’re doing in blogging form on the YUSU website and I’ll try to share that on social networking sites as well, I think that’s the way forward. Also some of my policies are looking at empowering societies committee to do more.

James Anderson: Its difficult, because its now in its infancy and needs to define itself. I think commitment of time to such a committee is difficult because people don’t know it yet. I’ve had emails saying ‘where do we look for this’ or ‘who do we go to’ and I know the interest is there. If people are trying to help then I think the actual problem is just making sure they know.

Will you focus your efforts upon smooth administration or increasing participation with societies?

AP: If I had to chose one for me to concentrate on I think it would probably be more people because one of the reasons I’m running for this is that student activities and societies stuff, I mean, that is my university experience.

JC: I don’t see that we have to pick between the two. A lot of my policies are to do with improving efficiency and at the same time improving participation.

JA: I would seek to improve participation through developing online facilities and by ensuring that support structures are better organised.

What do you think that Nick Scarlett [current Student Activities Officer] has done well in the last year?

AP: He was at the forefront of acquiring the space in Derwent Squash Court which is a fantastic space for performance societies so now they can do dance in there and sports also can do martial arts in there. I think that’s great because space, from talking to people, seems to be a really important thing so its great for people to be able to do that.

JC: One of his main policies last year was expanding space for people to use, I think to a certain extent he’s certainly done that we definitely have more floor space now than we had when we came in and I think the space review is going well. We’ve obviously had Derwent Squash Courts opened up now and on Heslington East the newly opened hub has also got society space. I would look to carry that on and also now I think the job would be not so much expanding floor space as making it fit for purpose.

JA: I have a lot of respect for his drive on gaining floorspace: the Dixon Theatre was a huge win for societies and student activities and the Derwent Squash Courts, its just so much easier now we have those two venues.

What would you do differently from Nick this year?

AP: Not enough people know who he is. He’s quite a humble guy, he’s not very loud, he’s charismatic but not a loud guy. Maybe he needs to be away from his desk more often, I don’t know.

JC: We view societies, volunteering and RAG, the three areas of the student activities officer as very separate, I would like to put an emphasis on co-operation, bring them together and work together more. In my time as RAG chair I’ve seen that societies can help really well with RAG and we’ve had some societies do some great work for us this year, I would really like to work on that.

JA: I like to think of myself as a proactive person and student activities is a very reactionary position. Students have problems and they go to the Student Activities Officer and then its his job to scramble and sort it. I want to be proactively working with them to ensure that when a problems coming I see it and ensure the failsafes are in place.

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