#SUSUontour (1 week down – 51 to go!)
This blog will cover all sorts – from Student Unions’ Conference 2013 to Alydwych and the Open Days we had the privilege of helping out at.
Where’s a better place than to start at the beginning?
We headed up to Manchester in one of our snazzy minibuses hoping to meet loads of other unions in order to learn what they do, as well as develop some of our ideas.
On the first night we had the chance to experience their Student Union building and explore their campus a little – what would you guys think about having a photo of sabbaticals displayed as part of the “SUSU wall”? Please comment below with thoughts!
The next morning was the first proper day of the conference. We went to LOADS of workshops, discussion sessions and speeches and below are some of the things we learnt that will actually influence you guys in the coming year!
Communications: I (Claire) learnt allsorts about Google Analytics and the power of Facebook as well as the psychology of language so look out for different methods of getting you engaged later in the year
Education: We all had a crash course in Higher Education which meant that we could place ourselves in the national issues that were happening. David Mendoza-Wolfson (VP Education) went to an interesting session on representation as well as being inspired by Allan Langford in his key note speech and the potential of world class higher education.
External Community Partnerships: From sessions about Leeds and Liverpool I (Claire) learnt the value of partnerships with other local institutions (yes that will mean working with Solent) to make students seem like citizens in their local area.
Sport: Evan Whyte (VP Sports Development) has headed off to ANOTHER conference (BUCS – the national league of sports competition) but before he flew off he discussed trends around the cost of sports and participation as well as the idea of doing more sports in the local community.
Democracy: David Martin had the chance to go along to a couple of sessions about people running slates (basically a person running for every position in a team, rather than individuals) and has got big aspirations for voter turnout in 2014 after hearing about the voting percentages at other Student Unions.
Welfare: After learning about other Student Unions’ Letting Agencies, as well as meeting with a variety of different Welfare Officers to discuss campaigns, issues and ideas Beckie Thomas (VP Welfare) found the session on tackling mental health stigma the most useful.
Community: I (Oli) attended talks by other Unions with regards to their Diversity policies, and ways in which we can make our elections more diverse at Southampton. I also learnt ways to improve a community within a Medical and Health Care course and will use parts of the discussion to improve the way we work with all our Sites. I took part in an interesting discussion on the merits of having a full time Post-graduate Sabbatical, as well as a completely separate Postgraduate Student Organisation.
New President, David Gilani, also went to a series of sessions about staffing, trustees and how to run an organisation which should mean that we continue to grow throughout the year.
What we tried to do was tweet about key information and cool things happening so that everyone at home also had a chance to access the information did you manage to see any of the tweets? Did you think they were interesting or just annoying?
On Thursday we were separated as it was time for half of us to head back south, while the others remained for the Alydwych Conference which was also taking place in Manchester. The Alydwych Conference is for all Unions in the Russell Group to share best practice as well as vote in policy.
The other half of us returned to Southampton to allow us to prepare for the Open Days. With over 20,000 visitors on campus whilst the sun was shining’ it was a great chance to spend time discussing the great stuff SUSU does as well as finding out the whole range of activities people love to do.
So after our first week at work we are back in the office ready for strategy writing, policy discussions and recruitment (all the exciting stuff!).
We look forward to reading your responses to the above questions.
Claire and Oli