Well we had our second review meeting as an Exec team together on Friday, and discussions were as lively as ever. Each officer was set the task of producing their dream team of six Sabbaticals and to give each officer three main powers (these being the things an officer should spend 80% of their time on). The idea was to see if there were any particular Sab roles that ALL of the officers thought should exist. We have not yet agreed that there should only be six officers, but we set this as a difficult target in order to get us thinking far more about the structure and within set conditions. Some Officers believe that a team of six is not enough, and others feel it is too many. The process we are using to carry out this review is still running smoothly and we really do feel we are approaching this in the best possible way.
So, what were the results? After each officer put explained their reasons behind their ideal team of six, we put them up on the wall and matched up any that were either identical suggestions or related in some way. We saw some suggestions for completely new Sabbaticals, such as ‘VP Student Engagement – Which would be responsible for JCRs/Societies & Rag, along with being the leading officer for Events and ours Venues’. We also saw suggestions to perhaps merge two Sabbatical roles into one, so for example ‘VP Arts & Media – Responsible for developing the theatrical talent based societies, being in charge of the media departments and to celebrate achievements within the community’. These are just two examples of the kind of Sab roles that were suggested by each officer, and some were completely different to each other, others just had slight changes to remits or even just simply different job titles (there was a lot of discussion about the title of A.U President and Winchester President in particular, and whether the make-up titles of a President and all the rest as Vice Presidents is the correct one.)
After all suggestions were put up on the wall, we could see that all officers suggested that the Sabbaticals President and VP Academic Representation should exist. With all of this information, we felt the next step was to run through each individual Sab role and to define what its title should be, and what its ‘three powers’ should be.
On the topic of President –
There was a lot of debate on what the President should be specifically responsible for, so not just the Union as a whole, but what projects they should be consistently involved in throughout their time in office. Some of the three powers suggested were –
1) Overall leadership of the Union – Including leading the Sabbatical and Exec team
2) Figurehead of the Union – Liaise with the University, responsible for the Unions Public Relations
3) Chair of Trustees – The President to take closer responsibility on issues such as finance, staffing, strategy, compliance & Commercial services
There was also a lot of debate as to whether the President should be the Sabbatical responsible for the JCRs. This has been a remit that has shifted between the President and VP Welfare for the past couple of years, the room was much divided in opinion with this suggestion for the President but it is certainly something worth debating.
On the topic of VP Academic Representation –
For the remit of this Sabbatical role, the following areas were identified as being key to this officer –
1) Defend students’ academic & educational issues and rights – University policy & practices/ National Government policy
2) Promote academic awareness to students – Current provision/Study skills
3) Amplify student voice through rep system – Course reps/Schools/Faculties/ Senior University leadership team
There was a discussion particularly on the title of this Sabbatical role. It has not long changed from VP Education & Representation; however many of the officers believed the term ‘representation’ was crucial to the job title. Also that it was simply the ‘and’ in the previous title that made the role confusing, whereas Academic representation describes the role perfectly.
These roles are obviously not rubber stamped in the review process, but we are starting to see results and agree on what officers we feel should exist in the new structure. There is also still room to change the specific remits of both these Sab roles, and there is even continuing debate over the exact job titles of each role. It was a very beneficial meeting and one in which we felt we covered a lot of ground. We are meeting again in the next fortnight to continue the review and are hoping to have an even better understanding of what specific Sab roles we feel should exist. There is still a lot of debate to be had, so do get posting us your thoughts on what we’ve discussed already! We continue to value your input a lot and we are constantly engaging with whoever we can to make sure we get as much input into this process as possible.
Keep watching this space and blogging your thoughts!
Billy FitzJohn (Union President 2010 – 11)