Will YOU take over the Union?

I’m sure you’re all a bit exhausted from the referendum (or bored) and glad it’s over, but the fact that we had over 4800 students come out on a single day to have a say on such an important issue for SUSU, is fantastic – and now you all have the opportunity to really grab a hold of how SUSU is run and shape its future.

Of course, I’m talking about the Spring Elections for all the Sabbatical Officers, Student Leaders, Union Councillors, and Trustees of the Union!

This year, we want to make sure as many people as possible feel confident and prepared to run for these positions, at all levels – so all the Sabbatical Officers are making themselves available next week for 30 minute drop-in sessions for you to ask them any questions – whether you’re definitely running and want to know more, or if you’re just curious and want to hear what SUSU is all about.

Because the sessions are one-to-one, email the Sabbatical team (details below, along with available positions and job descriptions) if you’re interested! Some of the positions have changed from this year – so read below, as well as David’s blog!

 So there are 4 sets of positions available: Sabbatical Officer, Student Leader, Union Councillor, and Trustee.

  • Sabbatical Officers are full-time paid positions, shaping the strategy and leading SUSU forward, as well as being the lead representative in those areas, whilst the others are part-time voluntary positions;
  • Student Leaders are the leaders in their activity area, co-ordinating all activity within it;
  • Union Councillors are the members of SUSU who hold the Sabbatical Officers to account at Union Council (6 times a year), as well as voting on what policies SUSU should adopt and political stances it should take;
  • and Trustees are the financial equivalent of Union Councillors, focusing on the running of SUSU.

All the positions are fantastic opportunities to take a real hold of SUSU and make it the Union you want it to be, as well as developing a whole range of skills.

Below are the 3 main responsibilities of the Sabbatical Officers, as well as the Student Leaders they look after. All of the below positions will be elected in February, starting within post in July 2013.

Do note that whilst the core principles of each position have been agreed, and have led to the below descriptions, the finer details of the roles are still being worked on, and will be fully finalised in February. You can also find out more details about each of the current roles in the Standing Orders of SUSU here


(contact Sam Ling at
  • Having overall responsibility for the Union, leading on the interests of the Union
  • Being the figurehead of the Union, being the public spokesperson and managing relations locally
  • Being the Chair of Trustee Board, responsible for the finances of the Union (includes, staffing and events)

Voluntary Officers:

  1. Student Trustees without Portfolio – there are 4 voluntary positions for students whose role it is to be on the Union’s Trustee Board and monitor the finances of the Union, ensuring it is well run.

Vice-President Democracy & Creative Industries

(contact David Gilani at and Shane Murphy at
  • Leading on the Union’s democratic processes (e.g. Union Council, Elections, and the Constitution)
  • Leading and supporting the Union’s Creative Industry groups (SUSU Media, Performing Arts, Union Films)
  • Overseeing and co-ordinating how our student groups are affiliated to SUSU, and what SUSU does to support and develop them in return

Student Leaders and Voluntary Officers:

  1. Student Groups Officer (formerly Societies Officer)
  2. Performing Arts Officer
  3. The Edge Editor
  4. Wessex Scene Editor
  5. Surge Radio Station Manager
  6. SUSUtv Station Manager
  7. Union Films Cinema Manager
  8. Union Council Chair

Vice President Education

(contact Sasha Watson at
  • Leading and supporting the academic representation structure (Faculty Officers, Academic Presidents, and Course Reps)
  • Defending students’ academic and educational issues and rights (at a University and National level)
  • Promoting academic awareness to students

Student Leaders:

  1. Business & Law Faculty Officer
  2. Engineering & the Environment Faculty Officer
  3. Health Sciences Faculty Officer
  4. Humanities Faculty Officer
  5. Medicine Faculty Officer
  6. Natural & Environmental Sciences Faculty Officer
  7. Physical & Applied Sciences Faculty Officer
  8. Social & Human Sciences Faculty Officer

Vice-President Engagement

(contact Shane Murphy at and Chloe Green at [for Community Volunteering])
  • Leading and supporting our Charitable activities, Entrepreneurial groups, and Volunteering groups and schemes (RAG, Student Enterprise, and Community Volunteering)
  • Developing positive relationships and networks in the local external community
  • Being responsible for general engagement with SUSU (e.g. Fresher’s week, the Bunfight, Communications strategy)

Student Leaders:

  1. RAG Officer
  2. Student Enterprise Officer
  3. Community Volunteering Officer

Vice President Sports Development

(contact Dean Giant at
  • Leading on Athletic Union club development
  • Increasing participation in sport and recreational activity
  • Developing elite sport at Southampton

Student Leaders:

  1. Athletic Union Officer
  2. Sports Participation Officer

Vice President Student Communities

(contact Nicole Trengove at [Sites Officers], Chloe Green at [Students Officers], and Shane Murphy at [JCRs])
  • Working with and supporting activities at our satellite campuses (Winchester School of Art, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton General Hospital, plus more)
  • Supporting our different student communities (Postgraduate, International, and Mature students)
  • Leading and supporting our JCR Committees in Halls and Private Rented accomodation

Student Leaders:

  1. Winchester Site Officer
  2. National Oceanography Centre Site Officer
  3. Southampton General Hospital Site Officer
  4. Outreach Site Officer
  5. International Students’ Officer
  6. Postgraduate Taught Students’ Officer
  7. Postgraduate Research Students’ Officer
  8. JCR Officer
  9. Well-being Officer
  10. Equality & Diversity Trustee [shared with VP Student Communities]

Vice President Welfare

(contact Chloe Green at
  • Leading on action to do with Welfare issues and promoting student wellbeing
  • Supporting student-run self help groups (e.g. Nightline, and peer-to-peer groups)
  • Leading and supporting political, environmental and ethical, and faith groups

Student Leaders and Voluntary Officers:

  1. Nightline Officer
  2. Equality & Diversity Trustee [shared with VP Student Communities]
  3. Ethical & Environmental Trustee


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10 Comments on "Will YOU take over the Union?"

  1. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 12:51 pm Permalink

    “Vice President Democracy and Creative Industries” is such a mouthful. Not a fan of this name. What about “VP Democracy & Creative Arts” or even just simply “VP Democracy & Creative”…. I just wouldn’t use ‘industries’, sounds horrible and the exact opposite of ‘creative’.

  2. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 12:54 pm Permalink

    haha yup… when we say some of the finer details might change – that might be one of them! the principals of what they look after are there though. Personally I’m a fan of it being called “Democrative Inducracies”

  3. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 1:26 pm Permalink

    Haha cool, glad a name change is potentially coming! Even shorter could be “Creocracy”. Although some English students may kick up a fuss.

  4. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 1:27 pm Permalink

    *other subjects are available*

  5. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 2:50 pm Permalink

    Im a little confused… If student engagement is responsible for fresher’s week and communities is responsible for JCRs, how will this work? Surely JCR’s are a huge part of fresher’s week. Surley we are gonna find that next years fresher’s week is gonna end up badly organised because of this. Also, shouldn’t Shane also be a point of contact for communities if its gonna involve JCR for next year?

  6. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 6:40 pm Permalink

    Hi …, I’ve added the stuff about Shane and JCRs, that was my bad! Thanks for pointing out. I’ll add that anyone can go to any of the Sabbs really, as we see a lot of each others work, and might be able to give a different perspective too – but sabbs might be too busy to be able to meet both their own prospective candidates AND others, so the obvious point of call first of all is the sabb in the one you want to go for!

    On Fresher’s week – we’ve now got staff in place who do the majority of the planning of JCR events, and the JCRs themselves have been well trained on how to put on events and what processes they should follow, so hopefully won’t need so much Sabb support as they’re a well run and well supported group now.

    JCRs were moved to Student Communities because that’s what Halls are in effect, and the JCR committee is there to represent the different people within them – there’s a lot they can help other areas of Union with, as well, and simply by being in a setting where they’re thinking about the different communities, hopefully it will continue the positive trend of JCRs being seen as more than just a group organising alcoholic events. There’s actually a whole host of engagement/ comms we do in Fresher’s that isnt to do with JCRs, from communicating over the summer, doing our Fresher packs, preparing the Bunfight/ Fresher’s Fair/ website stuff/ Welcome talks/ general marketing and publicity. The VP Engagement would obviously work with JCRs to help with this – this isnt trying to remove communication links across the different Sabbs and hopefully people wont see it as a barrier – but predominantly we saw the JCRs as there for the year representing the community, not just for Freshers doing events.

    I’ll give David and Shane a nudge in case I haven’t answered fully or missed something – hopefully that helps a bit!

  7. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 2:57 pm Permalink

    So is the Winchester and Sites role being further watered down? Will they even be based in Winchester? What a disappointment. And when were Winchester students consulted on this? When I arrived, WSA and its union had a strong identity, loyal students and a great community and over the course of my degree I have seen it dismantled and the soul taken out. SUSU has been keen to ignore the fact that we are an ART school, which attracts different kinds of people, and we’ve got different needs to a large cross-subject campus. So when SUSU slaps on their one-size-fits-all approach to us on events and support, it is resented and it doesn’t work. Having the support of SUSU is great in some ways but it has ripped the art school soul out of WSA. When WE ran our SU, it was successful and popular, and it felt like it was us running it, we all had a say. Fat Panda, our Friday night party (which has since snuffed it), two years ago was consistently rammed and had more character on one friday than the Cube could dream of having all year. This year you gave us “Friday Nights at the SU” and it wasn’t ours, so no-one came. You’ve trapped us in a vicious cycle whereby you give us SUSU style nights, and a SUSU style union, and no-one likes it so no-one comes out to support it. SUSU sees no-one turns up so you decide we don’t need our own sabbatical officer, and then there’s no hope at all. And by next year there will be no-one left who remembers how good the union could be and no-one who will be inspired to try and resurrect it.

    The election promises of Sabbs other than Winchester and Sites to support us and to get us involved, which I voted for them on, has not been acted upon, or at least I have seen little evidence of it. And I feel strongly that no-one has tried to give us solutions tailored to an art school, probably because no-one in charge has been to an art school. It has taken the students themselves to start a campaign to get a minibus going between campuses this year, which has been an issue brought up for years and surely a no-brainer for someone overseeing the situation.

    Despite it’s flaws I think the old system, where WSASU had their own President, who was in a lot of ways a ‘second class citizen’ at the main SUSU votes etc, but was voted for only by WSA students and was based in Winchester and was visible and more in control, was much better for WSA. I do not ever recall having been consulted about the changes to the structure either (and I have been to WSASU meetings when I have seen them advertised). No wonder students here feel powerless to make anything better. The only reason I have seen this blog myself is because I have worked with SUSU in the past and am facebook friends with a few of the sabbs, I suspect very few at WSA know about these blogs or where to find out what is happening.

    I would strongly consider standing for Winchester VP or Winchester and Sites, because WSA is what I know about and where I think I can make a difference, but being VP “Student Communities” is not something I honestly think I would be best at, or am interested in- I don’t know a great deal about the other sites and it is WSA I am loyal to. And I think you would struggle to find anyone at WSA that felt differently, leading to the equally undesirable outcome (for us) of having all candidates not from Winchester, and eventually our being run by an “outsider”. It’s loaded language, but it’s how, unfortunately, WSA feels.

    I appreciate that SUSU has a lot of communities to cater to, and, and that includes the Oceanography Centre and other satellite campuses, but in trying to start a functioning community at these places you have succeeded in totally killing ours, and I think it might be too late for it to be restored to its former glory now the momentum has gone. We’re all worse off than we started.

  8. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 6:55 pm Permalink

    Hi Matilda, thanks for all that – I’ve told Nicole to have a look at your comments as you make a list of very strong points that she might want to give you her thoughts on or just more information.

    Rest assured though, we’ve always been trying to increase WSA involvement – we introduced a WSA bunfight this year, have done sign ups for societies and sports teams, had the Wessex Scene get a greater involvement with WSA students, RAG started up last year in Winchester,, we’ve had the Advice Centre run specific drop-in sessions and campaigns in Winchester, we introduced a JCR at Erasmus Park for the first time last year and this time they were elected along with the others, making them able to attend the same training, and this year I have 40 course reps and an Academic President for Art – so the foundations are getting there, and what SUSU should be doing for all students is a lot more than just a Friday nightclub.

    We’ve also had a Winchester Sites Officer for a year and a bit now (voted just by WSA students), on top of the VP Winchester & Sites, so in terms of people in positions to make a difference, we’ve got more than ever. Winchester Exec committee is also coming along and getting there – so if you have any issues or want to help shape and lead WSA activities, pop along to the next one (I’m not on the committee so dont know if youve been going already, sorry!) because its specifically there to think of what WSA students want.

    I’d say that, rather than seeing the other parts of the role and being put off by it, see it as an opportunity to accomplish even more and have a word with Nicole/ Chloe about what can be done – the VP Winchester & Sites role was already larger than just Winchester, but then again, everyone enters the sabb role not knowing everything because its impossible unless you’re a Postgraduate International faith student studying a part time course at all the sites, whilst living in halls – and similarly I only did one degree, so I only knew my role from my courses perspective. You get great support in developing your understanding of the areas that you dont come from, there’s a handover period and 2 months of training pretty much, with lots of goal setting and planning sessions.

    Basically, if you’ve got a passion for Winchester, rather than thinking the role is more than just Winchester now so you cant do it – think about how you can use that passion to do lots of great things in lots of areas of the University!

  9. Sasha
    10/12/2012 at 8:39 am Permalink

    Out of interest, where will the VP Student Communities Sabb be based?

  10. Sasha
    07/12/2012 at 8:26 pm Permalink

    Hey Sasha, I appreciate a lot of your points here, it’s great that WSA has had the bunfights and advice centre drop ins etc etc, but I what feel that SUSU misses is that these things, while great services, still don’t bring back any of that soul that we had a few years ago. Sure, the Union isn’t just meant to be a nightclub, but in running successful Friday nights, and other non-club evenings, and alternative music nights, it brought the sense of community that allowed all the other things to happen, in ways that the Highfield campus never could have by its nature- we are small enough that I knew all the then-third years by name, and a lot of the second years. The sense of community spread to the uni rather than being a separate entity as it is now. It brought a great sense of potential which led to students running their own nights and which could easily have led to the Union venture as a daytime cafe venue being a lot more successful had it been introduced at the time rather than a year later once all that started to dissipate, as well as lots of more diverse ideas for the Union as a studio or performance space. That close-knit feeling has totally gone now, I no longer know many people outside of my course and year and I think SUSU has totally undervalued that part of our identity, and frankly does not have a good idea of how to bring it back, as greatly evidenced by the one-size-fits-all events thrown at us during the Freshers Week this year and the bits of Freshers Week we had organised for us when I was on JCR. SUSU wants to treat us as just an outpost of Highfield, and we’re simply not.

    In response to your point about the widening of the role being a broadening of opportunity- I take your point, but I am not interested in being a manager, or a politician, or a businessperson, and as soon as I leave no doubt I will go back to being a struggling designer- I am just someone who values my art school union specifically and wants to contribute to making it a diverse, bohemian, exciting little establishment which fosters creativity. It’s about joining the great (but diminishing) British tradition of vibrant and weird art schools and all that comes with that, not Oceanographers and nurses and people who live in Private Rented accommodation. Having seen a little about how SUSU works over my time here, I am confident that while it is great as a strong student body continuing independently of the NUS, and great at support and sports and all the things a large cross-subject campus needs, that art school union role does not, and never could, truly exist. SUSU hasn’t left room for it.

    I will however speak to Nicole in the meantime and see if there is anything to be done. Hopefully regular exec meetings from now will bring back some dialog between students and officers, since the beginning of the year everything has felt pretty disparate and out of our control.

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