Nouse speaks to the candidates running for the position of YUSU Student Activities Officer:
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your predecessor?
Chris West: James has done a very good job, however one thing I have noticed he has failed to do, is make use of the YUSU blog. As a Sabbatical team we need better communication with the university as a whole.
Hannah Brearley: James has been involved on a ground level, at a host of society and RAG events. He has done very well in helping the Societies Committee get running, which was a difficult thing to make work. He has been visible as an officer, but could have outreached more by mediating with Part Time Officers.
Helen Marrison: James has made himself really approachable and personable to the role. You can trust him. Despite this, he hasn’t been as accessible to students as he perhaps could have been, and in some cases he hasn’t kept on top of things.
Do you agree with the streamlining of society elections? And why?
CW: I can see both sides; however I believe overall it would make a lot more sense if you were able to streamline societies and hold all elections at a certain time. Particularly for training purposes, as this allows societies to fully develop. It would also be beneficial in terms of administration.
HB: I think there are several things to consider. Principally that we have between 160 and 180 societies here. We have to appreciate the diversity of each and every one of these. The streamlining has potential, it could be an effective way of supporting so many societies, but a lot of societies aren’t happy with it. As Student Activities Officer it would be my duty to represent their concerns.
HM: I can see the advantages. It may well improve the society experience. It has functioned well for York sport societies. If societies can do it, then they should, but I appreciate that societies have their own traditions and societies must put themselves first.
Do you think societies committee is currently functioning well?
CW: I believe it should be better broadcast, whilst students are currently able to attend development meetings, the information is filtered out too slowly, if the minutes of meetings were published, this would hugely benefit society chairs and committees.
HB: It’s new and needs to be taken further. The point of the committee is for societies to get their views across, and my concern is whether they think that is happening.
HM: I do not believe that societies committee is functioning as well as it could. It hasn’t been defined well enough, and I would hope to define it better as Student Activities Officer.
How would you increase student participation in societies throughout the year?
CW: I hope to offer a free £5 society voucher for freshers; also I hope to offer more sponsorship support from local businesses. I feel that if societies had this support, it would alleviate some of the pressure on their grants, enabling societies to put on what they want through the year. I would also encourage media training, so societies know how to use the press for publicity purposes. All this combined will encourage more students to get involved. On a more personal level I pledge to attend at least two societies each week, and submit a report on them through publications such as the YUSU blog. As at the end of the day it’s the extra things you do that define your university career. I also hope to return postering to campus in order to allow events to receive the publicity they used to, and thus increase participation.
HB: My biggest issue is that 68 per cent of students sign up to societies at Freshers’ Fair, and only 3 per cent elsewhere. That is shocking. If you miss the Freshers’ Fair, ultimately, it means that you have no chance. I have two things I want to do to change this. Firstly, I want to make it easier for students to sign up online, which currently only operates in some societies. I also want to have a Student Activities blog which will represent five societies each week and introduce readers to new societies, tell them what is going on, where, and how they can get involved. It could operate in a similar way to Duck of The Day, but introducing a new activity on a regular basis. People need to feel that at any time of the year they can join something new, not just during Fresher’s and Refresher’s Fair.
HM: There needs to be a Societies Week where societies can showcase what they have to offer. It could function in a similar way to RAG Week. Flashmobs are a way that societies could advertise themselves to students. I’d like to implement a scheme throughout the year that encourages students to try something outdoor, try something indoor, and try something you’ve never done before. But importantly, societies need to keep the impetus they have in the beginning weeks of term throughout the year, perhaps through society training. Students do tend to focus on one or two societies as the year progresses, and it’s the responsibility of the incumbent committees to encourage their participation in the following year.