With the student Activities Officer responsible for financing societies and organising University wide events, we at Nouse Business thought it would be good to question the candidates on their manifestos. A questionnaire was sent to each of the candidates containing a wide range of questions relating to the role of activities officer. Their answers provided the basis for the report below unless otherwise stated. The responses are generated from these answers.
On working with societies, Alex responded by stating that he would use the YUSU societies committee fully to hear the concerns of societies and students. He also proposed a system of “bespoke sponsorship” for societies, in which they can work with organisations with the aim of pairing societies and volunteering groups with appropriate sponsors and partners. This would mean that each society will be able to generate their own money to fund their needs outside of YUSU. This proposal is designed to increase societies’ autonomy.
On the issue of YUSU involvement, Alex’s response is clear that “the last thing YUSU needs is more bureaucracy!” arguing that YUSU is better for societies when it is in the background. Again he has suggested that more autonomy for societies is preferable over YUSU interference.
Alex has some innovative ideas to encourage University wide participation in events including society workshops for international students to help show them the benefits that being part of a society can bring. Furthermore, he stated that he wants to expand refreshers week, “to give societies a second opportunity to show what they can offer once freshers have settled in to life at York”. On financing his proposals, Alex responded that his proposals have been designed to be done at minimum cost. Furthermore, he proposed to introduce a societies card that could save students money in town.
Based on the responses provided by Dominic, his central point when working with societies is to be as approachable as possible. Dominic stated that he is “very keen on talking to societies to understand their needs” and aims to provide a tailored approach.
He believes that this tailored approach will help societies with their issues. On YUSU, Dom responded that YUSU is seen as “more of a hindrance to societies” and that dealing with the “outdated bureaucracy of YUSU would be a fantastic start”. Realistically, he has conceded that some bureaucracy is inevitable but believes that the current system needs reform.
Dom concluded the YUSU question with “the current system doesn’t feel fit for purpose, and needs to become more efficient and easier to work with”. Dom’s ideas relating to University wide activities seem sensible, telling Nouse that one of his key policies is to offer more YUSU Rag events as well as encouraging a voluntary collaboration between RAG, societies, and colleges to raise more money for charity. Dom does concede that ticket pricing could increase but “any profit made will go back into RAG and for future events”.
Heather’s approach to societies is to offer a more one-to-one approach by talking to society chairs as well as tackling broader issues that societies face. She has also suggested that forums could be made to help societies collaborate more and avoid event clashes. Heather has some innovative ideas on YUSU’s relationship with societies, suggesting online tutorials to help with issues such as Event Management Forms (EMF) and room bookings which could help as it would be a “much quicker and easier way for people to get the answers they need”.
Furthermore, Heather points out that online tutorials and crash courses will assist in committee handover and training. Heather’s response to University wide events was to call for them to be organised a term in advance as this will aid the promoting of events. Again, Heather calls for more collaboration and possibly tailored emails based on students’ specific interests alerting them to upcoming events as well as a calendar containing all upcoming events. In relation to finance, Heather would like to make it easier for societies to get sponsorship to help fund their endeavours.
In summarising her campaign Heather told Nouse: “I want to make sure York students have the best student experience possible, through a revival of RAG, better promotion of volunteering, and better support for societies, all to give students more opportunities to get involved and make university an unforgettable experience. #BeCleverVoteHeather.”
Lucas plans to be approachable to society committees, both online and in person. They hope that committee members will feel able to come and talk to Lucas to discuss ideas and what help they need. On YUSU, Lucas has expressed a desire to streamline the re-ratification process and expand the application window for societies. They have also come up with a useful idea of an online space for prospective new societies to find members and fill committee positions, which would make it easier for prospective societies to get ratified by YUSU.
Lucas has also suggested an increased autonomy for societies by including a small monetary ‘float’ so that students aren’t forced to pay for things and then wait to be reimbursed. Lucas wants to promote a sense of community spirit to help promote University wide events, so that people feel involved. They have suggested a ‘once a month dress up day’ to help foster a sense of involvement with YUSU among students. On financing their plans, Lucas hopes to run events with minimal costs to students, possibly by “freeing up funds from elsewhere to cover additional costs”.
Although this sounds good in practice, YUSU have been using whatever money available to finance already existing commitments such as using the college fee to finance college sport, as Nouse reported in last edition.
Based on Golfo’s responses, she plans to be a ‘problem solver’ for societies by offering each society help on an individual level. She has gone on to say that she would like to make societies more aware of the processes behind YUSU’s thinking so that societies can have a better understanding of how YUSU operates. Golfo’s plans for YUSU are slightly ambiguous saying that on the one hand, she favours increased autonomy for societies but that “at all times a society should be accountable to YUSU, that is the way this University is run, to ensure fair and equal treatment for all”.
Golfo states that her central issue is that “YUSU need to trust societies more” by providing societies insight on how YUSU operates and improving transparency. On University wide events, Golfo has suggested that societies could play a greater role.
She suggests that the “YUSU events that are extrapolations of pre-existing societies, just in a larger remit, are the most successful,” and that by using existing society events, YUSU could create more popular events. As societies are in charge of generating most of the activities on campus, Golfo’s proposals make considerable sense. On financing, Golfo has expressed a strong desire to make sure that students are not being “charged too much to enjoy their time at University”.
“Communication is key” in Charlie’s plans for working with the University’s range of societies. He is proposing weekly drop in sessions as well as appointments and meeting with societies. On YUSU, Charlie has gone against the grain and has conceded that YUSU needs to be “fairly bureaucratic to ensure the best decisions are made for the University we know and love”.
However, he does qualify this by proposing a Communication, Promotion, Inclusion, Inclusive strategy of working with societies, by helping to promote their activities and get them to work together, as well as making societies inclusive for all. One of Charlie’s key policies is improving the YUSU app with an up-to-date events calendar to alert people to upcoming events.
On University wide events, he wants more promotion through social media to encourage people to attend events. Charlie’s financial plans are clear stating that with his policies it is “about weighing out the benefits and rewards of said cost and determining professionally if it is worth it, which it should be”. This does suggest that costs could rise but only if absolutely necessary based on a cost-benefit approach.