As part of a welcome to SUSU series, Wessex Scene are interviewing the 2015/16 Sabbatical Officers. Here I speak to Hannah Talbot, Vice President Engagement.
What are you hoping to achieve as a sabbatical officer this year?
As a Sabb you have to make three goals for the year, so I hope to achieve these three goals! They are to improve the way SUSU communicates with students, community and our leaders. Also, I want to build up the volunteering and enterprise models – so making it more structurally sound and a lot more simple for students to access. There will be more information to come, so stay tuned! Thirdly, city engagement, which involves working with Solent University more collaboratively on things like local elections campaigns.
What are you most proud of in your first 3 months in the job?
It’s going to sound really trivial, but the snapchat filter for freshers was great! The concept was mine, I sent the proposal off to snapchat, wasn’t expecting to get it, but I got a message saying we got it! The next step is to try and get one for the whole year now!
In your manifesto you emphasised the need for communication with the various student groups in the Engagement zone, highlighting that how poor previous communication has been. What steps have been put in place to ensure that communication between student groups is as easy as possible?
We have the groups hub, which is the fountain of all email accessibility! As well as this the greater utilization of Facebook groups has been done – I now have a group for all 43 of my committees, I’ve found with external engagement in the past there hasn’t been as much communication, so I’m just trying to test the water with different methods. I also have one with student leaders as well, to talk about things that don’t necessarily fall under the remit of committees. We have also had our student leader conference/AGM, which we haven’t really done in the past in engagement. This is where representatives for the different societies can come along and we talk about groups hub risk assessments, fundraising processes, and things for them to keep in mind for the rest of the year. We’ve had feedback from that and we’re planning to make is more of a summer thing like sports do. Also, we’re always open to ideas!
You also mentioned that you want to make sure that students fully understand your role. Do you think there still is that confusion there?
Sadly, my role has changed so much over the past couple of years that I’d have to say if you told me what engagement was as a student now I’d be very confused – even the term external engagement doesn’t entirely make sense! It’s one of those things where I’m trying to push out what we do via things such as sabb blog takeovers by students, and clarity in Facebook profiles, and trying to put ourselves more on social media through pictures and video. I think it’s becoming a little bit clearer – as a Sabb team you try and be visible throughout many of the events and talk to more students. We need to try and ensure that students engage with the University more – it’s a two-way relationship!
What are your plans for engaging with external campuses such as Winchester?
So my plan is to hopefully create a snapchat filter for them, but I don’t want to give too much away – there’s a lot of surprises coming up! We just need to make sure we mirror events as we did in Freshers to ensure we are inclusive of them.
One of your stated aims for this year in your manifesto is to ensure that societies and student groups from different areas of the union ‘mix’ with each other more. Charity is a fantastic way to encourage collaboration – is this something you would actively encourage?
Of course! When I did my campaign research, I did a lot of work with sport societies, and they said they wanted to work with charities more – so I’m all for it! We had our RAG President go to Creative Industries training too, so I’m more than happy to encourage people to do that. There is a fundraising process for students to do this, so now we just need to make sure we get out there and advertise this to students! The RAG naked calendar is coming up, everyone should get involved – I’m hoping there’s going to be a Sabb one this year as well.
Give a message to all the freshers who have joined this year – why should they get involved in SUSU?
Make sure you get involved from day 1, you gain many transferable skills, you make lots of friends in the process, and it’s a bit of fun getting away from your degree. Whether it’s attending a class, or writing something for Wessex Scene (plug!) it’s something else you can add to your CV. Make the most of your first year!