This year's Community Relations Officer is Hannah Raleigh, who can be contacted via email on comrels@. She can also be reached via pigeonhole in the Student Association Reception area. Please do not hesitate to get in touch, as she is happy to discuss any issues with you via email or in person.
Who is the community relations officer?
The Community Relations Officer is the primary point of contact at the Student Association for local residents. As well as sitting on both the SRC/SSC, their role consists of being the representative for all students with regards to community matters. In order to fulfil this role they sit on a number of local committees.
We are a small town that plays host to a large and diverse community. It is inevitable that issues of contention arise which are perpetuated by negative student stereotypes. The Community Relations Officer is there to aid in breaking down these stereotypes by ensuring that issues arise less frequently and are dealt with appropriately when they do. By aiming to have community wide, rather than just student wide initiatives, we hope to facilitate communication and interaction amongst all residents.
The Community Relations Officer aims to provide information to new students regarding road safety and settling into a new town. Additionally, it is important to inform returning students who are perhaps moving into private accommodation about the importance of being a respectful neighbour.
The Community Relations Officer aims to work with SSC subcommittees to increase the number of activities carried out with the involvement of the local community. She also aims to increase the number of student societies who work with local committees, building upon the precedent already set by numerous societies.
Ensuring that student events such as Freshers’ Week, Raisin Weekend, and May Dip cause as little disruption to local residents as possible is another vital aspect of the Community Relations Officer’s role.
What local committees fall under Community Relations?
The Community Council is one of the most vocal local committees, which consists of twenty elected board members and the four Fife councillors. The Community Relations Officer and the Student Association President sit on the board to ensure that students are fairly represented as members of the community.
The meetings are monthly, on the first Monday of the month, at 7pm in the Burgh Chambers of St Andrews Town Hall.
The Local Government Act (Scotland) 1973 states that the “general purpose of a community council shall be to ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the local authorities for its area, and to public authorities, the views of the community which it represents, in relation to matters for which those authorities are responsible, and to take such action in the interests of that community as appears to it to be expedient and practicable.” A wide variety of issues ranging from planning applications to public maintenance matters are discussed.
The Community Relations Officer also sits on the Recreation Committee of the Community Council, which is responsible for the civic roles of the Council. These include the organisation of events such as coffee mornings, bandstand concerts, competitions, and the annual "St Andrews in Bloom" floral competition. Both the Young Citizen of the Year and Senior Citizens' party have also been held in association with the Student Association in previous years.
The Town-Gown Liaison Group is also attended by the Community Relations Officer, where residents voice concerns in an open environment over issues impacting their local area. The Community Relations Officer attends these meetings to ensure there is a student presence, but they are open for all St Andrews residents to attend.
The Police Community Engagement Meetings provide a platform for Fife Police to directly communicate with the wider community. The Community Relations Officer is responsible for representing the Student Association at this level, aiding the Police with its "Being There For The Community" Initiative through regular contact. The St Andrews Multi-Member Ward Plan (2013) cited driver behaviour, anti social behaviour, cycle related offences and alcohol misuse as being the four main concerns identified by the community.
The St Andrews Preservation Trust plays an important role within the local community. Since it’s foundation in 1937 it has pledged to preserve the buildings, character and history of St Andrews for future generations. The Community Relations Officer is responsible for liaising with the Trust, and working together for the benefit of the town.
What is this year's overarching aim?
We are a small town that plays host to a large and diverse community. It is inevitable that issues of contention arise which are perpetuated by negative student stereotypes. However, the Community Relations Officer is there to, in addition to acting as a student representative in, aid in breaking down these stereotypes by ensuring that issues arise less frequently and are dealt with appropriately when they do.
Of course, this has been a long term aim of the Student Association and previous Community Relations Officers, but this does not negate from its relevance. Ultimately, we are all part of the same community. It is important to bridge the gap between students and the wider community. This year aims to improve this as much as possible and put into place a long-term strategic plan. By aiming to have community wide, rather than just student wide initiatives, we hope to facilitate communication and interaction amongst all residents.
What projects have involved previous Community Relations Officers?
The role previously has campaigned on bike lights to ensure the safety of cyclists on the road at night. Noise pollution at night had been of concern to local residents, therefore there was an initiative working with students and businesses to reduce noise after 9pm. The community relations officer has worked with local shops to encourage students to buy locally. In addition, the Community Relations Officer worked with the Student Association and Accommodation Officers to prevent changes to HMO licenses affecting students in private flats.