Dear PG friends,
I hope you are well and getting back to your routine for your study after the long break – we have less days for the winter break in Japan. My mom only had a break between 30th December and 5th January...
Nomination for this year’s election opened on Monday 17th January and will be closing at 10am on 10th February. I recommend you try to nominate yourself for whichever position you are considering at a moment. Whether you get elected or not, I assure you that it will be a great experience you can talk about later in your life.
Today, I would like to explain why I ran for this role and what my actual role is which might have been hidden behind the official description of the full-time officers.
I was an MA student and heard about the election (March was election term in 2020) on 13th January 2020 right after the break. Why do I know exact date? Because I write a journal every day haha I was a course rep at the time and always struggled with communication from UEA, and the learning system UEA had. Many of my friends had been complaining about their courses.
I didn’t know what my role was supposed to do; however, I only had one strong belief in this. ‘I really want to help PGs who don’t know where to go for help.’ That’s the only thing I expected. Helping one PG at a time.
However, helping PGs is not the only job this role is required to do. Which I will explain below.
My weekdays are filled with a lot of meetings (both online and in-person) with
- internal (with SU staff)
- external A (with UEA staff and students)
- external B (outside UEA e.g., other SU’s or organisations)
You have a right to say ‘No I don’t need to attend the meetings’; however, most of them tend to be high priority for this role. I could list them all here, but it is too long so maybe not today. Or you can check them under officer report on Union Council’s agenda.
Whether you attend those meetings, there are some responsibilities coming as an officer package with you. And you cannot say no for this package..
Full-time officers automatically become the Director of three companies – SU, LCR (club in the Union House) and the Waterfront (in the city centre)
This means that five of you are top of the organisations. You get paid every month. You have to pay the council tax. You will have power, but you need to respect the power at the same time (mad king is not acceptable ref. Game of Thrones). Any decision for the SU, five of you are the people who decide. Sometimes it is an easy decision but sometimes it is very important decision which may or may not affect other people’s study and research.
Full-time officers are automatically elected as Union Councilors – Union Council is where the officers are held to account, so you are required to attend these meetings throughout a year. You can also propose new policy as a councillor. If the policy would be passed, that could change our system drastically depending on the content of your policy.
Full-time officers automatically become trustee. You are required to sit on the Trustee Board every other month – which is one of the most important meetings as well as the union council.
Chair of the committee
We have five important committees within the SU which each full-time officer chairs each meeting. Before you start working as an officer, you will be given the opportunities to pick up the committee which are:
Appointment and HR Committee: about 4-5 times a year to discuss SU’s HR matters
Finance Committee: about 4-5 times a year to discuss SU’s finance matters
Management Committee: every other week to discuss daily SU matters
Risk Oversight Committee: about 4-5 times a year to discuss any risk within SU
Chairing means you are an MC to operate how the meetings are done. You follow the agenda and ask members to approve minutes etc. Sometimes you would say ‘oh you are on mute mate’. Or mute someone because their dog is barking behind them... You ask members to vote for a decision and ask if they are happy with the decision. But don’t worry about the detail. You will have SU staff support and training on this.
University Council or Senate
You five need to decide who will attend the University Council and Senate.
Two officers will attend the University Council where they make decisions about general university matters for about six times a year. This is equivalent to our Union Council but UEA version.
Three officers will attend the Senate where they discuss decisions recommended by the sub-committees such as Learning and Teaching Committee and Student Experience Committee. They will be about four times a year.
These are the main things that I was not aware of before I started working as an officer. Sorry if I disappoint you but I think you should have this information before you run for the role so that you will be ready and plan the detail what you would like to achieve.
You are asked to make a decision, a decision, and a decision. Read the papers to prepare for the meetings and sometimes they are more than 100 pages... Then you also support PG students. I expected to work with students 95% of this role but it is actually about 50% in fact. However, another 50% time are all for supporting students and improving UEA better for students after all.
What I like about my job
Working with students – their opinions matters more than anything
Working with the other officers – they are the one who you can trust and support each other
Finding myself that I never thought existed in me
It is one of the best experiences you would ever have in your lifetime. If I went back two years ago and told myself about all above, I’d still run for this role because again it is great experiences to work with different people in Higher Education where everyone has different view for everything. I have learned so many things so far and became stronger than before.
If you are considering nominating yourself to my role, please feel free to get in touch with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I will answer any question you have.