This is a big job. It’s an important job. And it takes the energy and care of somebody who puts the students’ interests before their own. That can’t be just anyone then, but it could be you.
The role of President is primarily one of communication. You are the touch point between the students whom you serve and the University hierarchy whom you must influence. The word influence is key, as the President holds in his or her position very little executive power. It is crucial that, in order to achieve anything, that the President is careful to understand the different needs of different groups if any progress is to be made.
Of course, as the only official spokesperson of the organisation, you’ve got to make sure you’re communicating who you are and what you are doing as much as possible!
You’ll also sit on the Student’s Association’s Board of Trustees and have guiding influence on the Association’s policy of course. You and the DoRep are responsible together for working with the elected members of the Student Representative Council.
The University will frequently ask for the ‘student’ opinion on various issues, which is usually where the President will come in. Whereas the Director of Representation has this year focussed on academic and welfare issues, the President has taken responsibility for Accommodation and Widening Access.
Examples of this work at senior University Committee level can be seen in commissioning the SRC Accommodation Team’s wide-ranging survey to guide university policy, and in successfully making the argument for an improved level of bursaries. There have been several discussions to identify ‘what more looks like’ on Widening Access work, leading to a commitment from the university to undertake outreach work beyond Fife for the first time.
There is of course the University Court (the ‘Board of Directors’), our most senior decision-making body. Most members live outside St Andrews and need to have student needs explained to them carefully if they are to compete successfully with decisions on research funding. The body meets 4 times a year and building up trust and a good relationship outside of the meetings is crucial.
And nowhere is this more apparent than for the funding of the Redevelopment! This is the single biggest change to the Union since the Association brought together the Union and SRC in 1983, the same year the current President was born! £12 million funding does not come easily, and nor does communicating the changes to the student body on a regular and effective basis. We’ve got much better at our social media communication this year and continue to work hard behind the scenes to ensure that there are no upsets which could threaten the redevelopment funding.
#redev is your biggest priority!
Beyond these responsibilities you must fundamentally care about the Association, our staff and our students. Many people have different feelings about what our priorities are, and it is the President’s role to absorb these and guide the different needs together. Sitting at the centre of many different needs and feelings, you are in a position to do enormous good.
Any questions, please come over to the Union building and see me at any time!
For any more information contact Freddie on firstname.lastname@example.org