Students’ Union – Interview with an Entertainments Officer

Now that Freshers all over the country are settling in and experiencing their first taste of Higher Education, it’s time for another interview in the occasional Students’ Union feature. It’s now pretty obvious that entertainment is an important part of life at university. Why not, eh?

To give a flavour of what’s involved and how the entertainments are developed, I spoke to Anso Dietrichsen, Entertainments Officer at the University of Winchester Students’ Union:

Anso Dietrichsen

– Entertainment is obviously a huge deal for students. How involved can they become with the SU’s work in sorting out a successful event?

“One of the main points the SU tries to encourage is that it is a student union ‘run by students, for students’. All SU members are therefore either students or previous students. Any student can suggest ideas or new acts and can definitely help in organizing and running the events, although the final responsibility rests with the trustees. We do encourage students to be as involved as they can and to express any ideas they have.”

– What kind of communication will you give to students, especially the new intake of Freshers?

“We have a number of ways through which we aim to keep students informed about upcoming events. We have a fortnightly schedule called ‘What’s on Winchester’ aka ‘WOW’. This contains all the information e.g. “what’s on”, “where” and “how much” and can be found scattered around the SU. Other than that we have volunteers who help with flyering for specific or big events. The Union website also contains all the information. I will aim to be at most events spreading the word on any other upcoming events. A main source of information for freshers is via e-mail. At freshers fair we encouraged students to join our e-mail list which will enable us to e-mail them all the information.”

– Winchester is celebrating a brand spanking new Student Centre. How will this open up the possibilities for entertainments?

“The new building brings with it more space and capacity. This extrapolates to bigger and better acts and events. It also means tickets for Balls aren’t as expensive as we do not have to pay for the venue hire.”

– Your election manifesto highlights your strength in promoting activities and communicating effectively to students. What ideas do you have that will help raise awareness of what a Students’ Union does?

“I plan to visit all the student halls, not only to show my face, but to make students aware of what we do at the union. The union also provides assistance with academic and environmental issues etc. This is provided by the other Executive officers, such as the Academic affairs and the Welfare officer. The union is not just a place to go drinking!”

– Can you give a brief explanation of how an event morphs from an idea into the real deal on the night?

“I get ideas from students and put it to Gemma Burt, the Entertainments Manager. She then establishes whether it is possible to stage the event. Factors to consider include costs, popularity with the students and then, of course, health and safety.”

– How can students really strike up the perfect work/life balance? After all, university is just as much about having fun as it is studying.

“How to strike a balance in organizing time is a factor we also have to consider in our overall weekly entertainments plan. Even though the Union has a lot of events, it also encourages ‘non-drinking’ nights such as salsa, quiz night, movie night, etc. These nights do not go on for longer than three hours which leave students with ample time for studying. Our main clubbing nights also feature various music genres; therefore not everyone may be interested. By choosing which events to attend, students will be able to plan for study as well. Student services will also gladly help with advice on time management, should this become a problem.”

Many thanks to Anso for her time, especially as the uni’s Freshers’ Fortnight was taking place too. Entertainments are clearly an important part of introducing the new students to university. As an example, for some extra information on the role itself, the Winchester Student Union website explains that the Entertainments Officer shall do the following:

  • In conjunction with any relevant staff members, assist with the organisation and publicising of a variety of entertainment and other social activities to reflect the interests of all sections of the student body.
  • Assist the RPC Co-ordinator with relevant clubs, societies, companies, and organisations which may be advantageous to students.
  • Establish and maintain contact with relevant officers at other universities and colleges in the area.
  • Establish and maintain contact with NUS Ents.
  • Liaise with the relevant staff to ensure that all social activities are well publicised to ALL students, including those at other sites.
  • Carry out research with students at the beginning of the year and design an entertainments programme for the whole of the year on the basis of information received.
  • To ensure that entertainment events can be used as a medium to actively promote campaigns on a local and national level on student issues specific to Winchester Student Union or instigated by other affiliated and relevant organisations.

A lot goes on behind the scenes that isn’t always understood by the majority of students. Hopefully this helps to open up a bit about what happens to get things moving.

May all your Ents be great!

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