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My name is Shaina Sullivan and I would love to be your next Director of Student Development and Activities!
My time in St Andrews has been shaped significantly by extracurricular activities both inside and outside the Students’ Association, where I have been given incredible opportunities while making great memories and friends, from hosting a radio show to organising one of the Union’s largest events. I would love to use my experience to help make these opportunities more accessible and impactful for everyone as your next DoSDA!
This year, I have held an internship in the University’s Development Office, which has given me great insight into working within the University and how its’ departments operate. Within the Association, I have been a member of the Student Services Council (SSC), through which I have sat on the Union’s Disciplinary Committee. I have been the Christmas Ball Convener as well as Vice-President for Mermaids, through which I have helped fundraise thousands of pounds for Mermaids’ productions and line- managed the work of other members of the subcommittee. I have also been a member of the Glitterball Committee for Saints LGBT+, a Peer Support Volunteer, and a Student Ambassador.
Through these experiences, and the support of my peers as well as past and current Sabbaticals, I have learned an invaluable amount about both what works well and what can be improved within the Union. I would be thrilled to take this knowledge into action as your next DoSDA!
Collaborations and Connections
“With over 160 societies and twelve subcommittees, I think it is a shame that societies are not given more facilitated opportunities to connect, collaborate, and communicate both with each other and with the DoSDA.”
• Communication with the DoSDA
o Because there so many affiliated societies, it can be difficult to keep track of the needs
and interests of every society. I would like to send out a Google Form (or similar) to every society and subcommittee president at the start of the year, which they would have the option to return with information about what trainings, funding opportunities, or events they might be interested in. I would then send out a subsequent form at the end of the semester, allowing societies to provide feedback to me directly, and to provide updates on what they are interested in for semester two. This way, I would be able to ensure that the opportunities provided to societies are ones they are actually interested in.
• Society and Subcommittee Networking Events
o I would work with the Societies Committee to establish more opportunities for societies
and subcommittees to meet and chat to one another, such as mixers and society ‘speed- dating’ events. Because the networking event held before the Refreshers’ Fayre was well-received, I believe providing more chances throughout the semester for members to meet and discuss their activities will allow for more collaboration between affiliated groups.
• Society Newsletter
o Societies often find it difficult to locate and keep track of the workshops, funding opportunities, and activities that are available to them, as they often get lost in society email accounts or on Facebook. I would like to again work with the Societies Committee to collate all of this information into one email sent fortnightly to interested society members so that they can be sure they are utilising all available resources and can easily access them.
Inclusivity and Involvement
“Whether you are a Fresher who is nervous about getting involved, a Post-Grad unsure of your extracurricular options, or a third-year looking to try something new, I believe there is work to be done in making student activities more accessible to everyone.”
• Overhauling Societies Section of Union Website
o When interested in joining a new society outside of the Freshers’ or Refreshers’ Fayre,
the Union website is often the first place to check and see what societies there are and how to get involved. However, the societies section of the Union website is tediously organised, often redundant, and has many ‘dead ends’. A somewhat ambitious proposal, I would aim throughout my term collaboratively with the Union’s marketing team to optimise this section of the website for societies and subcommittees. I believe that if societies were more easily able to post updates, photos, events, and information through their Union webpage, this would both make joining societies more accessible to students who do not use social media, as well as increasing society membership and engagement with all students.
• Optimising Postgrad Involvement
o Postgraduates make up an important part of both the academic and extracurricular
community. Therefore, I believe that working with the Postgraduate Society to ensure adequate events, activities, and opportunities are geared towards the postgraduate community is the best way to ensure that they remain engaged with the Union and what it has to offer. Namely, I would propose that the Freshers’ and Refreshers’ Fayre open an hour earlier so that the first hour could be aimed towards Postgraduates only. This would allow for Postgraduate students to engage with societies and subcommittees amongst other postgraduates, and would also allow societies and subcommittees who are interested in arriving early to target their discussions towards postgraduates, making it easier to increase postgrad engagement and to fill often difficult-to-fill postgrad rep positions.
• More Diverse Activities
o On a similar note, the Union is not utilised solely by resident undergraduate students. As
such, I believe that it is the Union’s responsibility to ensure events and activities can be held in the daytime, making it easier for commuter students, mature students, and flexible learners to participate in Union activities. I would work with the DoES to ensure societies and subcommittees are able to easily book and hold events in the daytime, and I would encourage the subcommittees line-managed by the DoSDA to consider more daytime activities. Likewise, I would like to work with the DoES to ensure student groups are fully supported in holding more alcohol-free events and activities.
Prospects and Possibilities
“Many students are unsure of what they would like to do after University, whether this is a postgraduate degree, a graduate job, volunteering abroad, or a gap year. I want to make sure students not only have sufficient resources and information about ALL of their options, but also have access to the trainings and workshops during their time at University that can help them make the most informed decision and make the most of their extracurriculars.”
• More accessible training opportunities
o The Union already offers a great deal of training for subcommittees, such as Got
Consent workshops and Active Listening training. I would like to expand this so that societies as well as students uninvolved with societies have the opportunity to partake in these trainings should they wish to. I would also like to work with Association members such as the LGBT+ Officer to offer Conscious Awareness training, the DoWell to offer Peer Support or Mental Health First Aid trainings, and the DoES to offer Events training. I would also like to establish more specific risk assessment workshops for affiliated groups, such as how to prepare a risk assessment for a large-scale event (also in collaboration with the DoES), or how to risk-assess a society trip abroad. I believe this would ease both the concerns of societies when preparing a risk assessment as well as the Union staff’s evaluation of the assessments as the groups would be more well- informed of what the Union expects from them.
• Expanding on careers week and careers events throughout the year
o This year, in its’ second year, Careers Week was embedded into the Union’s calendar
and put on numerous informative careers events. However, I believe that these events could have reached more people had they been marketed directly towards student interests, and organised with these interests in mind. I would like to consult society and subcommittee presidents (such as through the aforementioned Google Form) for which careers events and speakers from which industries they would be most interested in, and possibly collaborate with these groups along with the Careers Centre to hold the events. This ensures not only that students will be interested in the events being held but also that they will be well-attended. I would also like to diversify careers week to include more alternative post-graduate pathways such as placements abroad and volunteering opportunities.
• Volunteer recognition
o Student volunteers within the Union put in incredible time and effort into their
positions, which deserves recognition in a streamlined and non-cumbersome manner. The Volunteer Recognition Scheme, a joint endeavour between the Association and the Athletic Union, is a good start, but it can be extremely tedious for frequent volunteers to log each of their individual hours. Having observed these difficulties myself, I would like to take that experience alongside input from the subcommittees using this Scheme over the past two years to work with the Athletic Union in further streamlining the process. I believe that once the Scheme is simplified further it will increase its’ usage and thus allow volunteers to have the affirmation of their work that they deserve. Outside the of the Scheme, I would like to work with the Careers Centre to introduce more CV workshops targeted towards societies and subcommittees that can inform student
volunteers how best to reflect their experience on their CV, allowing them further recognition for their hard work. I would also like to better advertise the CV appointments the Careers Centre already offers, which would provide comparable advice for students who are less involved in extracurricular activities.
In sum, I would be absolutely honoured and thrilled to put my experience and policies into place as your next DoSDA!