Alex Hovden


13 January 2017 12:44

6 months in – progress update

Hey everyone,

We are just over six months into our terms as Full Time Officers now, so in the interests of Transparency and Accountability, I just wanted to give you an update of where I’m at with my various projects that are in my plan.

United Union

High profile political speaker series – Natalie Bennett (former leader of the Green Party) came to the Union on 6th December, which was the first event of the series. I’m working on more speakers, and the University and the Union will be collaborating to run one event, hopefully in early March. More details of this will follow soon.

State of the Union speech – the speech is drafted and ready to film. This will be going out over the Union’s communications channels in the next few weeks.

A fresh look at Transparency and Accountability – following the implementation of the new democratic structure, I wanted to give this time to embed itself properly, and officers the time to understand it too. I’ll be looking at this in March, and making any recommendations public in due course.

President’s communications plan – Signed, sealed, delivered. The plan can be found here, and I’ve been following it ever since. One area of weakness in this area has been other sites, which I haven’t been getting to as much as I should have. I will be rectifying that from now on.

More Powerful, Bolder Union

Decentralised Union – This is the area that I know I have work to do on. It also comes from being more present across sites, which is linked to my Comms plan.

Masterplanning – We are currently in the process of reviewing the plans with the University, as the original plans were financially-speaking over ambitious. With the conversations that I’m having in mind, I remain confident that we can agree a start date for the works with the University by the end of June.

Proper break between Semester 1 and Semester 2 –  Hopefully you’ll have seen the survey on this that was launched on Monday. This will be open until Friday 3rd February at 4pm, at which point we will look at the results and compile a report which I will hen hand to the Vice Chancellor and Vice President Education at the University, as well as publishing online. Watch this space!

Grassroots led campaigns – This is to do with supporting students to run their own campaigns, and advocating for student leadership on issues. I have been quite involved in the campaign for fair tuition fees, in which I acted as our Union’s point of contact at the demonstration in London in November. If anyone has a particular issue that they want to campaign on then please do get in touch and I will support you however I can.

Stronger Union for the future

Financial sustainability – As a Union we are constantly looking to be more efficient financially, to ensure that we are giving students the best value for money possible. It’s a key strategic priority for us over the next few years, because the more sustainable we are, the more money we can pump into student projects in the future.

Student groups review – This is a project that has been led on by Tom (VP Sports) and Cameron (VP Democracy and Creative Industries). I haven’t been able to be involved as much as I’d like to have been owing to other time constraints, so I’m going to be removing this from my own plan, though both Tom and Cameron know that I’m more than happy to help whenever they need me.

Open Data – The first stage of this was the joint project with the University – the online interactive map for the Bunfight, which was used by 800 people over the course of the day. The second stage of this is looking at open data sets that we have as a Union and how we can publicise those, which I’m starting up in the next few weeks!

Union App – As I reflected on in an earlier blog post, I’ve had to scale back my aspirations on this one because with everything else going on currently (the logo re-design, elections planning etc), there isn’t the time to do it, not to mention a lack of funds. So what I’m going to be doing is finding out what students want to have in terms of functionality from an app, and how we could go about doing that in the future. My goal is to have a plan for an app (including costs etc) by the end of the year so that when the Union is ready, it can hit the big red button, and start the project off.

Miscellaneous projects

Consultation on ongoing volunteer recognition – Having spoken to Dan (VP Engagement), I’ve realised that this project is more within his remit, and also that he’s doing it anyway as part of his plan to increase engagement in fundraising and volunteering. Dan knows that I’m more than happy to help out if needs be, so I’ve therefore decided to remove this from my plan.

Mental health campaigning – David (VP Welfare) is currently planning a mental health campaign for March, which I will be fully involved with. I am also keeping a close eye on national developments, particularly with respect to the new mental health strategy that the Prime Minister announced recently. Furthermore I have recently undergone training for the Look After Your Mate campaign, which was extremely helpful.

Governance review – This is a review of how our Trustee Board works and ensuring that it is as effective as it possibly can be. I have created a working group of our current Trustees, and this will be meeting at the end of January, to conclude the project by the end of March at the latest, with any Article/Rule changes coming to the AGM in May.

Full-Time Officer & Zone review –  This is another project I haven’t been able to get involved in as much as I like, but I have always been willing to help out however I can. The review is broadly speaking complete, therefore I’m going to be taking this off my plan too.

What else have I been up to?

As President there are several things that I have to do that are business as usual, such as academic appeals (I sit on the Senate Appeals Panel which is stage 3 of the process), Student discipline committee (I am a non-voting member of the University discipline committee), Union discipline (I am often involved in investigating complaints and deciding whether they should go forward to a full committee), and University Council (the University’s governance body, responsible for its finances, strategic direction, and other legal obligations).

On the student facing side of things, I have been involved in the All Student Vote, elections, and the logo re-design process following on from the results on the branding questions. Oh and of course Freshers’ planning!

If you’ve got a question for me about any of this, or just want to chat about any of the above projects, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Either through You Make Change, or of course by e-mail. 🙂

Many thanks for reading!

All the best

Alex Hovden – Union President

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