- Sabb Interviews: President, David Mendoza-Wolfson
- Sabb Interviews: VP DCI Megan Downing
- Sabb Interviews: VP Engagement, Ellie Cawthera
- Sabb Interviews: VP Communities, Anjit Aulakh
- Sabb Interviews: VP Welfare, Beckie Thomas
- Sabb Interviews: VP Sports Development, Katie Lightowler
- Sabb Interviews: VP Education, Sophia D’Angelico
As part of the mini-series of 2015 sabbatical interviews, the Wessex Scene team are interviewing all sabbatical officers this week to catch up on their progress, what’s gone well or badly so far and what plans they have for semester 2 and beyond.
What are you most proud of in your time as a sabbatical officer so far?
I don’t know whether you would class it as an achievement yet, but for Winchester I managed to find £175,000 that the faculty spends on students to subsidise their travel, and I plan to use that money to provide a shuttle bus service that people will use on a daily basis. So potentially, September when new students come in it will be a regular service. We haven’t nailed down the logistics but there will definitely be something in place.
As your manifesto was broken down into different student groups your role affects, which student group have you helped the most so far and how?
I would have to say JCRs, just because till now the things we’ve done the most has been with them.
Do you not think that you should give more focus to harder to reach groups than the JCRs?
I don’t think they’re easy to reach at all, because you’ve got 77 of them to stay in contact with, and only one student officer, even though Frankie, my JCR office has even brilliant. I’ve engaged with them the most because of the nature of the role.
But from now I want to focus more on international students. So we’re going to have international forum, which is on the 18th February. Then we’re going to have global village, which is going to be brilliant, and we’re going to have a cultural night where we have international societies doing anything and everything in the Nuffield hopefully, where we’ll not only invite students but also the local community.
Also in my time I’ve done quite a lot of things for example mature society, so I have done other bits and bobs as well, but the main one in terms of engagement has to be JCRs.
Looking back at your manifesto now, do you think there are any gaps or things you would change?
Yes, I don’t think I understood certain points of the role, I didn’t have that much time after my exams to focus on it, so I just nailed down the brunt of my manifesto.
Offering nurses and medics loans to cover transport for placement, that was where I may have been a bit premature in putting that into the manifesto. Apart from that I think stuff that I put in there is very reasonably achievable, because working with JCRs to improve their experience I think has gone down well; we sent out a survey after the freshers period, and one question was about JCRs and we actually achieved 84% satisfaction rate, so that’s pretty good, though it is 1% down from last year.
The other thing is making SUSU more accessible to WSA students, I think that’s gone down fairly well, not as well as we were hoping, but we have had freshers events tailored specifically to them, and obviously we’ve worked to getting transport. Also we are in talks with local pubs and clubs in Winchester to have a particular night for WSA students.
So we’ve spoken about your plans to facilitate transport to the WSA, but your manifesto also mentions NOC transport, what’s happening there?
I’ve had a look at the NOC transportation structure and I think the people I spoke to were actually just a bit picky, because the transportation system to the NOC is fairly good.
The one thing I probably am going to look to do is I’m going to try and get more parking spaces for bikes, because there are loads of bike users at the NOC, and I’d really like to see more environmental friendliness there.
You also specifically mentioned Student Parents in your manifesto, how have you engaged with them?
I haven’t done as much as I probably would have wanted to do with Student parents, I’ll be completely honest about it. Things that I have done… we now have child friendly seats in SUSU venues, and we’ve also had child friendly screenings at Union films. In Easter we’re going to try and organise an Easter egg hunt specifically tailored for student parents, so we have got things in the making.
Also in freshers we didn’t do much for student parents,so I am going to make sure we have something in the freshers plan for them.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the role for you?
I’ve definitely grown as an individual, and my organisation skills have definitely increased. Understanding JCRs- their needs- and the fresher needs is probably up there as well, that was one place I struggled to understand how things functioned, luckily it went well!
We’ve touched on this earlier, but what are your big goals and plans for the rest of your time in office?
Winchester shuttle bus is one of the main ones, because the money has already been pledged. Also more support for international students, and also for EU students. Something else I mentioned in my manifesto was to implement a buddy scheme, which is definitely something I would want to get put in place for next year, because as an international student you’re paying a lot of money so I think we should just do a little bit extra to help settle them in.
The beauty of the job is no day is the same, everything is really different!