One thing I wish I had more understanding of in hindsight = What my Students’ Union was all about.
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to try and give a bit more info to you about the role of your SU, the officers, the councils, the committees, the representatives. This should be useful for a number of reasons, such as:
– You’ll realise you can do more than just moan about a lack of entertainments and societies that interest you.
– There is a great source of support for students in various predicaments and needs.
– It’s a resource to help achieve all sorts of things that you wouldn’t necessarily have realised.
– Involving yourself is a lot of fun and could prove beneficial to your future too.
I wish I had understood that I could turn the SU…sorry, my SU to my advantage. So that you don’t make the same mistake/oversight with your SU, I thought it only fair to go into some detail now. At least you’ve got the choice that way!
In this first blog post, I will try to deal with the basics that I wish I’d understood when I first started uni. What is a Students’ Union all about?
Well, the closest a lot of students get to it is having a few pints down the Union and maybe joining a club and possibly voting for a student rep of some sort. I’m sure some people don’t want to look any closer than that. But for those who do, there’s a hell of a lot more to sink your teeth into.
Every student is automatically a member of their Students’ Union, unless they resign their membership (it doesn’t generally happen). So all the students are members and it is the job of the Union to represent the interests of the members.
So far, so simple. It states in Wikipedia that a handful of unis call their ‘union’ a Guild of Students, but generally the same information applies.
A Students’ Union will get an allocation of money, although it doesn’t stop there. A lot of fundraising for the Union will go on too, mainly through product and venue sales and marketing. The money is used to support further entertainments, societies, sports, advice, lobbying, and numerous student events.
As I mention, lobbying is a part of the work involved for officers elected to their SU. After all, in representing the interests of the members, it’s not surprising that they want to be heard on matters of student loans, student fees, student welfare, and so on. However, the remit only goes as far as campaigning on anything within the scope of students as…well, students.
Something I didn’t find out until only recently is that the SU will have at least one full-time officer who is either taking a year out from study, or who had finished study in the previous year. To be honest, it makes sense, I’d just never thought about that aspect. Other than the full-time members, there are a number of other studying and unpaid officers and reps who are elected by the student body in order to work toward what their fellow students want. If you want to have your say about possible future entertainments then you could chat with your Ents Rep, for example.
That’s the general idea of what a Students’ Union does. Over the next few weeks, I’ll go a bit more in depth, plus I’ll speak to some of those newly elected people in various institutions around the country so that you can get an insight into the real nitty gritty.