So, it's finally the winter holidays and I'm writing an officer update on the train home.
Hopefully you have been keeping up to date with my Executive Chairs blogs (when they've been on time, sorry!) and know how much has gone into working on this year’s new democratic structures. We've had a successful first term of Exec, a student jury, un-quorate general meeting, an election period, recruited for our first scrutiny panel, we’re on our way to filling our new additional student trustee position and even passed some policies. Who knew there was so much to do on governance? (Literally, not me.)
We've also had our first elections period of the academic year. A massive well-done to the 168 students who put themselves forward as candidates! Going through the elections period can be challenging, but also should be a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to chair our PTO, NUS Delegate & University Council Rep hustings and it was great to see students engaging with student politics and talk about what they’d like to change. I look forward to seeing the campaigns and events from the newly elected officers. Over the coming year, we will be considering the diversity of candidates and officers across the Union, and plan to do some mapping of the recent elections!
You will have seen the posters to apply to be on the Union’s new scrutiny panel; the Scrutiny Panel exists to scrutinise the work of the Full Time Officers, provide constructive feedback, and monitor progress made against policy implementation. They are a key function of the Students’ Union and ensure that our elected officers are effectively contributing to the lives of your fellow students. With the changes in the democratic structures, we have also changed the way we recruit for positions - this was the first time students were able to apply for a role! It was also a great opportunity for members of your Democracy Committee, as 3 students made up the appointments panel, who shortlisted and interviewed for applicants. The first scrutiny panel is organised to be held at the beginning of the Lent term, and a report will become available shortly after that.
IT’S NOT ALL DEMOCRACY. As part of my role, I am the lead Officer for college engagement. So, we’ve written a college engagement plan. The document details how we (LUSU) will be working with the college JCRs and SCRs on things like sport, internationalisation, finance and my favourite, Welcome Week. Every couple of weeks, LUSU and the Colleges get together to catch up about how things are going, if there have been any issues and what happens next in the term. In January, we start planning for Extravs and Welcome Week! (I constantly have meeting about Welcome Week throughout the year… who knew this was a conversation that happened literally all year??)
One of my manifesto points was to ‘restore the purpose and effectiveness of various LUSU committees’ - and I can happily report that I have been able to start doing this! Now that LUSU Council has been replaced with the Union Executive, student’s ideas have featured a lot more in the Union’s strategic thinking, and allowed for more student voice in the policy making process. I have also concentrated on changing the way the Union’s Social and Event’s Group (SEG) runs, as a group, we have agreed a new terms of reference for the committee, and are starting to hold social forums twice a term, which anyone can attend! (Hopefully the first will be in Week 4 of the Lent term!). SEG is the committee which agrees on college socials, and i’d like to encourage anyone who wants to work with their college to come down to these forums!
And finally, a massive amount of resource this term has been put into the ongoing saga that is the Sugarhouse. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you should be up to date about all of the different challenges we’ve faced. In Week 10, I spoke at the planning committee against the development of student accommodation and unfortunately, the councillors voted unanimously in support of it. So, a block of flats will be built on our night clubs door stops, and in January we expect that another proposal will be approved for our back door. This isn’t great news for the Sugarhouse - but the team are continuing to work hard on creating the best solution for you guys, and to make sure that we can operate every Wednesday. We will let you know about how January’s application goes!
During the last week of term, myself and our Chief Exec got to shoot off to Sheffield for the NUS’s Strategic Conversation away day. There were some interesting points of conversation, a reveal of the new proposed democratic structures for the NUS and the approval of a Full Time Trans Officer. I will write an update about the day for you asap!
From support demonstrations in the square, meetings with the NUS President in a seminar room to finance and risk committee meetings at the Sugarhouse, my first term as an FTO has been an interesting one! In the new year, we'll be focusing on Grad Ball, Extrav, and FTO elections!! Thanks for a good one team Lancs, hope you’re having a lovely holiday!