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Sabb and Exec Role Review: Stage 2

The re-shuffle of the Sabbatical Officer positions at SUSU were at last decided at Union Council last term. After much debate, Union Council voted to replace the current six Sabbatical Roles (President, AU Pres, Winchester Pres, Vice Pres Academic Affairs, VP Welfare and Societies, VP Media and Communications) with 7 new ones, as part of an ongoing review of the Sabbatical structure that has been underway since it was promised by former SUSU President Steve O’Reilly at last year’s Union AGM.

The 7 new roles that were decided at council were slightly different to those brought by the current Sabbatical and Exective Officersas the result of the review, there were two major amendments, which placed support of the SUSU Media Departments into the remit of VP Comms and created the role of VP Winchester and Sites.

The new Sabbatical roles will be introduced for the 2011-2012 Sabbatical Team (for which you can nominate yourself to run for from the 2nd of February) and will be as follows.

President

  • Overall leadership of the Union
  • Figurehead of the Union
  • Chair of Trustees

Vice President (Academic Affairs) 

  • Defend students’ academic and educational issues and rights
  • Amplify student voice through academic representation system
  • Promote academic awareness to students

VP (Welfare and Communities)

  • Student Welfare
  • Promoting Students’ involvement within larger communities
  • Supporting particular student communities to enhance their student experience

VP (Sports Development)

  • AU Club Development
  • Elite Sport
  • Sports Participation

VP (Student Engagement)

  • Student Led Groups
  • Supporting Selected Union Standing Committees (JCR & RAG)

VP (Communications)

  • Leads Union Communications
  • Leads on Democratic Processes and Involvement
  • Supporting Student Media Groups

VP Winchester and Sites 

  • The development of Winchester School of Art Students Union (WSASU).
  • The development of a volunteer executive team for Winchester campus led by a volunteer Winchester president 
  • To prepare the structure of the WSASU to be led by volunteers, with the support of SUSU staff, not a Sabbatical. 
  • To work with all satellite campuses and placement students to determine the support needs of those students.

 The next phase of this review is to reconsider the current Executive officer structure. Executive Officers are students who volunteer part time as trustees of the Union with specific responsibilities; sometimes directly complementing the role of a Sabbatical (such as Societies Officer and the Vice Pres for Welfare and Societies) and sometimes independently being responsible for a specific area, without direct Sabb involvement (such as the Environment and Ethics Officer). They are elected during the same elections as the Sabbatical Officers, but the Sabbatical Officers are paid, full time officers who work as trustees of SUSU for a year, usually after they graduate, but sometimes as a year out from their degrees. 

There are a number of questions that we have already considered as part of the review of the Executive Officer structure, but we need to know what you think. For instance, should Executive fficers also be trustees of the Union? Should Exec officers have entirely different remits to Sabbatical Officers and only use Sabbs for support, or should their jobs be mirrored within the remit of a Sabbatical Officer? Would some officers who are currently known as admin officers be better off as exec officers (e.g. Wessex Scene Editor, Men’s Officer). How many exec/admin officers do we need? How many trustees do we need?

Currently, there are the following exec officers, who also serve as trustees of SUSU.

  • Environment and Ethics Officer
  • RAG (Raise and Give) Officer
  • AU (Athletic Union) Officer
  • Equal Opportunities Officer
  • Societies Officer
  • Postgraduate Officer
  • International Officer
  • JCR Officer
  • Academic Representation Officer

The review of the Executive Officer structure will be presented at the next Union Council. Give us your thoughts below on how you think the review should go.

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5 Comments on "Sabb and Exec Role Review: Stage 2"

  1. Charlotte
    Sasha
    04/01/2011 at 4:24 pm Permalink

    We need a Communications Officer.

    1) You yourself have been very busy doing Media & Comms, but there are even still some Comms things that haven’t been done like press releases. That isn’t a dig, you know I appreciate you have done a lot – plus we cant expect the moon and the stars – what it does show though is that there is scope for a Comms role with a legitimate job description that wouldn’t clash with the Sabb Officer. Work out what you haven’t been able to do, and sort it out between the two roles.

    2) The Sabb role of Media & Comms is always contested by Media elites (plus a few), with the main focus of manifestos on Media – yet I think you would agree the majority of the job is in Comms. Before being a Sabb – no student has an opportunity to be involved in Comms, so therefore the Sabb is hampered by having to learn a lot and fast. By having a Comms Exec, it give a student not only the chance to see what Comms is about, but it also advertises to the body as a whole – “this is what Comms does”.

    I don’t mean to imply that a Comms Exec becomes a shoe-in for the Sabb Meda & Comms, many people have succeeded in the role without Comms experience – but if were looking to improve SUSU, this is something that is greatly missing.

    Plus its a voluntary role, so what’s the fuss?

  2. Charlotte
    Sam
    04/01/2011 at 4:24 pm Permalink

    On the question about the number of trustees, I think it’s beneficial to have at least half of the Trustees as current students (and most likely an executive officer) to act as as a balance to the Sabbaticals as trustees. In my view it has enables the whole group to cover a wider range of experience and opinion in attempting to represent what the student body as a whole would want.

    An interesting question would be what is the difference between an executive and an administrative officer? Is it just that one is a trustee, or should there be more than that?

  3. Charlotte
    Luke
    04/01/2011 at 4:40 pm Permalink

    There should be a provision for an events/venues exec. At the moment there is Ents forum but that is very ad hoc and informal. An exec such as this would allow more student involvement in what susu venues do. I appreciate that both I <3 College and twisted have student brand managers (an excellent idea) but perhaps an exec would be better placed. But then again, a permanent SUSU employee may do a better job. Just conjecture on my part

  4. Charlotte
    Charlotte
    04/01/2011 at 4:59 pm Permalink

    Sam, what do you think about external trustees? Our new charity status would require a certain number of external trustees; we currently only have one. What about a larger executive body but a smaller trustee body?

    Following on from that, Sasha, I like the idea of the comms exec a LOT, I agree that the job SHOULD be mostly comms but it is difficult for it to always be that as it currently stands. I believe the democracy part of the role will help this, as could what you are suggesting above. I envisage the heads of media departments continuing to get stronger and stronger each year and leaving less for the Sabbatical to support on operationally each year (as it seems has been the trend in recent years). It sounds to me (in the VPComms role specifically) as though there could potentially be a student (exec?) team working alongside the Sabbatical to deal with the three strands of the job that are outside of the day to day trustee duties (thus not making the ‘team’ trustees). This could be the 4 heads of media depts (5 or 6 if there are two Edge editors and Union Films is included), the Chair of Council (for the democracy side) and a Comms Exec.

  5. Charlotte
    Sam
    04/01/2011 at 6:43 pm Permalink

    I think a larger executive body is potentially a good idea, and i agree they they don’t all have to be trustees.

    It would be important defining how we group our officers. What is an executive officer, an admin, should there be other categories depending on the responsibilities.

    Should exectitives be those that chair committee’s, or work with budgets?

    I’m afraid thats possibly more questions than answers, so I’ll put forward my thoughts (although these are fairly off the top of my head, rather than thought out, so I’d be interested in other thoughts).

    Trustees:

    The Sabbatical Officers, plus an equal number of student officers, and the required number of external trustees. Potentially if you had an even split of each it would lead to a large governing body, but thats not always a bad thing (not saying it wouldnt be without its problems).

    An interesting choice would be who do we pick for external trustees. Having been a trustee myself, and been on UMB (Union Management Board) with Mike Snell our current external trustee, I found him to be great, with his input being invaluable at times.

    A bit unconventional, but would it be interesting to invite a Sabbatical from another Union to be a trustee? They would have the relevant experience, but would have a great incite into another way of doing things. Seeing as we have 3 near by (Solent, Portsmouth, Winchester) it would probably be possible.

    Feel strongly that the Southampton Student Voice must be the loudest (which i expect will happen anyway) but external trustees do bring invaluable experience, so long as the student trustees have been given the support and confidence to speak up for what they believe is in the best interest of the students, as its very easy to become very passive when faced with a group of people who you may consider far more experienced.

    Officers:

    The executive officers should possibly be those with responsabilities over either departments, or committees. Or the other way round would be that each SUSU committee (and broadly you may even include PAU in this) should have an executive officer, and a sabbatical for support. With each Sabb looking after a team of officers, who aid them in their supporting of committees and departments.

    It would be interesting to ask if we should have officers involved in directing or offering a student voice to some of our commercial services as well, which currently as far as I’m aware is mainly done through the President.

    Admin officers should be those that support specific issues, or areas. Those that work independantly, but on important aspects of what the Union Does. They should be supported by Exec officers, and Sabbaticals. e.g. Mens officer runs the mens campaigns, and is supported by EO, who works with a range of Admin officers. Another example would be the Editor of the Wessex Scene, potentially an Exec Officer, looks after the Editors, Admin Officers.

    So Admin feeds into Exec, which feeds into a Sab, and you could create a very clear picture of how each student group is supported by 3 officers. No type is more important than another, they just have different focus’

    Following on from this training could then be tailored to an extent. Sabbs are looking after the organisation as a whole, dealing with the Uni, and the community.

    Execs look after their departments/committee, working closely with their Sabbs, and also work with a team of admin officers.

    Admin officers run projects and campaigns, feeding into an Exec officer, but also supported by a Sab when needed.

    This sort of classification would work well when expanding where we have officers. Such as if we were to bring in an officer system with venues, you could have the president overseeing the commercial services, with an events Executive Officer, and admin officer for specific events, such as Twisted and I Love College.

    A bit of a ramble, but some rough thoughts/ideas/questions.

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