Manifesto - Jenny Ritchie
Athletic Union President
Check out Jenny's social media here.
Hi, I’m Jenny and I am running for Athletic Union President. As a member of both the swimming and hockey clubs since 1st year, sport has shaped my time here at St Andrews. I believe that my experience as a member of two very different clubs and of holding committee positions, including 1st XI hockey captain this year, have given me the appropriate leadership skills and knowledge to be AU President. My ideas are the following:
Promotion and engagement
I believe that in order to engage students and increase participation in sport we need to promote all clubs equally, and that this all comes down to educating students on what the AU is about, including their values and what they can offer to students. This year I have seen a dramatic increase in the profile of Saints media and its coverage of all sports; I would like to build on this existing platform even further and use social media to show students everything available in sport at St Andrews. Live streaming events is low-cost publicity that hopefully can spike interest, and I would like to make sure that every AU club has coverage in this manner to keep students in the know about what they can be involved in. Often bigger clubs receive greater publicity due to a larger number of members, but hopefully by positively promoting every club I can create a culture that celebrates all 60 of our sports clubs. In addition, I want to increase the publicity of sports classes and the gym. To increase accessibility for the gym, I would propose to introduce a buddy system through which people who regularly go to the gym can be matched with someone who wishes to start going, so that together they can both benefit.
Having been a member of two very different clubs here at St Andrews, I realise that to help clubs effectively we need to address specific needs and that these needs can vary hugely. I plan to meet with representatives of every club and ask them what the AU can do to help them. As well as at the start of the year, I want to continue this throughout my term as AU President, building and maintaining lasting communication links between the AU and clubs it represents. Increasing the profile of the AU President will hopefully encourage clubs to come forward and share their issues. I want them to know that my door will always be open, no matter how big, small or frequent the issue. I hope to introduce a varying office hour every week and invite people to come with any questions and queries that they may have. I also believe that we can learn a lot from looking at and evaluating what other universities’ unions do and how they solve issues, so I hope to communicate with other presidents in Scotland to find out how their sports clubs solve similar concerns. By implementing these simple changes, I hope that I can be proactive in solving all issues and be accessible to everyone.
Build a relationship with student services
I wish to increase communication and build a two-way relationship with Student Services. Firstly, I want to strengthen the relationship of the AU and Students Services in the hope that students who may be struggling can be encouraged to use sport as an outlet, whether this is by joining a sports club or attending classes or the gym. By promoting all clubs, hopefully people will be aware of everything available to them and will find something that they are interested in. I hope that I can personally work to make it easier for people to join and remove any stigma that may come along with mental health. Secondly, when people come to university there are a lot of changes and this can be daunting. Balancing uni work and sport can become overwhelming and there is increasing awareness of mental health issues relating to sport. By building an established pathway I want to make sure that both Student Services and module coordinators understand both the time commitments that sport requires, and the benefits that participating in sport can bring. I want to make big steps here at St Andrews to improve the stigma that can often surround this issue. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and friendly place to live and study, so I want to ensure that we keep up with many other universities and take a step to tackle sport related mental health issues.
I know that this is a problem that has caused particular issues for many sports clubs this year. I will work to make sure that negotiations with the kit supplier are held with students’ best interests at the forefront of the decision. I want to take into consideration both large and small clubs so that everyone can benefit from the gift of kit. This will include affordability, quality and the range of sports that are provided for. I understand that it is very important to clubs that kit arrives on time and this is something that I will try to make sure happens. No matter what provider we end up with, I want to make sure that every club has kit appropriate for them and their needs. To do this I would meet with every club to fully understand what they require and look to find them suitable kit, especially for niche and specialist sports.
Now that the AU have invested in their own fleet of vehicles, we do not need to use as many external hires. I want to streamline the process of booking transport and provide clear guidelines for all clubs on how to book transport. I want to make sure that the AU are prepared for potentially busy periods, such as pre-season, while making sure people are able to sit tests as soon as possible. In addition to this I want to make sure that all teams are travelling safely and encourage them to ensure that they have multiple drivers to make sure that all students are safe. I would do this by making the driving test easy to apply for and less daunting for individuals. Additionally, I want to look further into making sure that any teams travelling longer distances are doing so in a cost-effective manner.