One of the seven Sabbatical positions on offer, the role of the Vice President for Engagement is to ensure that charitable organisations within the university such as RAG, volunteering groups such as Community Volunteering, and groups centred around student enterprise are fairly supported and represented at a higher level. As well as the above, engagement around the student’s union more generally is a key factor of this position, for example helping implement the Bunfight and ensuring Freshers’ Week runs smoothly. On a larger scale, the Union’s communication strategy is one of the central themes of the VP Engagement’s activities; its development is crucial to the continuing success of SUSU.
Candidate no. 1:
Name? Jamie Hemingway
Degree subject? BA Geography
Experience? Course Rep 2011/2012 and 2012/2013; Showstoppers Social Sec 2012/2013; GeogSoc President 2012/2013; GeogSoc Welfare Officer 2013/2014; Academic Societies Rep on Societies Committee 2012/2013; Student Groups Officer (and Union Councillor) 2013/2014
Main manifesto points:
- I will establish an Enterprise Loan Fund and a newly designed enterprise pack for budding entrepreneurs
- I want all sectors, Eneterprise, RAG and Community Action to collaborate and work as a cohesive unit
- I will run an Enterprise Day during the Freshers’ fortnight
- I will work to host both a National Enterprise and National RAG Conference
- I want a RAG Officer on every departmental society
- I want RAG to be able to raise £1 million in 5 years 7
- I want to push for dedicated space in the form of a Rag Office and an Enterprise Hub
- I will make it clear what the available pots of money are for Community Action
- I will put together a support pack for Private Rented Freshers
- I will run a campaign to get 2/3 of the student population registered to vote.
Is there anything the current Sabbatical for your position has done that you would have done differently? Claire has been great. She has really driven this new role and it is up to one of us to complete this job. I believe that she has not done enough to help societies/students to really harness the publicity facilities that SUSU offers, for example, through CMT (the Communications and marketing team). I really want to make sure these are accessible for students and ensure that SUSU provides support for any student wishing to communicate with other students.
What sets you apart from the other candidates? I have strong connections and experience in societies as well as in SUSU. I know what bridges to build and I know exactly how to implement every single one of my manifesto points. I do not need to learn how SUSU works or who to go to, I can come into the role and start straight away, giving full support to students right from the start!
Candidate no. 2:
Name? Ross Nation
Degree subject? BSc Psychology
Experience? Two years on RAG committee; Student Hubs Committee and Writer of The Week; Mental Wealth committee; Vice President of Monte JCR; serial volunteer and currently working towards setting up my own social enterprise.
Main manifesto points?
- I will make it easier for students and student groups to work with SUSU, simplifying the processes of running events, fundraisers and campaigns for example.
- I will offer more tangible support for engagement societies, meaning actual staff time, my time, easy read info kits and guidance when necessary.
- I will have regular, personal contact with committees of societies in the engagement zone.
- I will find more ways to listen to what students actually want, physical suggestion boxes and online feedback systems are just the start.
- I will have a hands on approach, working closely with enterprise groups, charities and volunteer groups to provide what they actually want want.
- I’ll work on developing the relationship between enterprise groups and the university, helping to build credibility and encouraging the university to make use of students skills. It basically all comes down to making life easier for students and providing the right support in the right ways. Fish on Toast don’t need SUSU to run speaker events, just to support theirs. SUSU doesn’t have the expertise to offer proper advice and guidance on starting up a business but the university does, as well as the resources to help, so the focus should be on properly promoting and collaborating with the university to offer this to all students.
Is there anything the current Sabbatical for your position has done that you would have done differently? I think the main thing I would’ve done differently is engaging earlier, getting training for new committees before the end of this year and organising Freshers’ Week and the events occurring in Semester One well in advance.
What sets you apart from the other candidates? Mostly experience. Firstly, I already have the knowledge and understanding to start working on tackling the issues straight away, I know what is feasible, realistic and, most of all, actually going to have an effect. But also the reason I have experience is because these are genuinely areas I’m interested in and care about.
Candidate no. 3:
Name? Ellie Cawthera
Degree subject? Biomedical Sciences
I’ve been involved in many societies during my time at Southampton including the Swim Team, Concert Band, SUSurf, Waterpolo, and the University Air Squadron (SUAS). I’ve had a great time with all of them and have developed many skills by taking on various responsibilities such as arranging social events in SUSurf, organising military expeditions and giving presentations in SUAS.
Main manifesto points?
- Clearer, more student friendly communication from SUSU of all the events and opportunities available to students, improving student engagement with SUSU.
- Better relationships between students and the local community so we can maximise the external facilities available to us and get the most out of our ‘home away from home’.
- Exciting opportunities and skills development for charity and enterprise endeavours furthering involvement with the community and nurturing the fundraising and get-up-and-go mentality of students.
Is there anything the current Sabbatical for Engagement has done that you would have done differently?
I would have gone about some of the communication ideas differently. At the moment there are headlines of “what’s going on in SUSU?” running along the top of the SUSU website. This was an awesome idea but wasn’t optimally implemented. The vast majority of us students don’t use the SUSU website. We do however use Sussed and Blackboard all the time. I would have put hyperlinked headlines running along the top or bottom of these site so that the information is more readily accessible.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I will absolutely be the best representation of the student voice in our student union. Whilst the other candidates are experts in their small, specific areas, I am unbiased. I am equally enthusiastic about all of the roles I would undertake as your VP Engagement and would be honoured to have your vote.
Voting opens tomorrow, Monday 24th February 2014. For more information, click here.