Two roles decided? Summary of second review meeting

Hello everyone,

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!

Thanks,

Billy FitzJohn (Union President 2010 – 11)

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Name your Six Sabbaticals

Hello everyone,

This Friday we are due to meet for the second time to review the Sabbatical structure. We have set a task for all Sabbs and Exec to complete by Friday in order to make sure we make further progress, and we’d very much like you to get involved too!

The task is to come up with your ‘dream team’ of Six Sabbaticals. Then write a working job title for each and a power of 3 for each (so the three most important things that they should spend 80% of their time on).

So, for Example –

Vice President Student Activities:

  1. Support Student Group Leaders
  2. Develop Student Led activities
  3. Increase opportunities for participation and development in the Union

Dont forget to take a look at the “what should they do” so you can make sure that your team covers all the remits needed.

Please do get blogging your thoughts and make sure you get involved, even if you can only come up with a few definite roles you’ve decided on; we’d very much be glad to hear your thoughts before we meet on Friday!

Best,

Billy FitzJohn (Union President 2010 – 11)

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Current Sabbatical Roles

SUSU currently has 6 Sabbatical Officers.  These are students elected in the Spring Term of each year to work full-time as leaders of the Union in the following academic year.

The current Union Standing Orders describes their job titles as:

  • President
  • Athletic Union President
  • Vice President (Academic Affairs)
  • Vice President (Media & Communications)
  • Vice President (Welfare & Societies)
  • Winchester President [elected by Winchester based students only]

There are also currently 8 part-time Executive Officers.  They carry out their roles at the same time as studying, so they have a smaller work portfolio.

  • Academic Representation Officer
  • AU Officer
  • Environmental and Ethics Officer
  • Equal Opportunities Officer
  • Junior Common Rooms Officer
  • Postgraduate Officer
  • RAG Officer
  • Societies Officer

All 14 are Trustees of the Union.

Each Sabbatical Officer works to a generic job description covering their duties as a Trustee, a Student representative and more general duties as the leader of their work area.  The Standing orders then lay out specific job roles for each post.

The full copy of the new Standing Orders of the Union can be found here.  This is the version recently presented to the AGM.  Some amendments have been passed which will be incorporated soon.  We will provide a new link when it is available.

Briefly the Sabbatical Roles are as follows:

The Union President

Shall have overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the activities of the Union’s officers, delegating duties when appropriate, this entails:-

·         Having overall responsibility of the Union as a whole.

·         Leading and giving direction to the sabbatical team

·         The President shall be responsible for the Union’s finances:

·         Support officers and committees in their work, especially:

·         To be responsible for managing external relations, with the university and beyond

AU President

Shall be responsible for promoting the strategic development of Sporting Activities, Sport Southampton and the Athletic Union as a whole, this entails:

·         Taking a leadership role in the promotion of sporting interests within the Union.

·         Take a lead in providing strategic direction to the Athletic Union Committee

·         Encouraging students to become involved in recreational, intra-mural and club sport.

·         Promoting a healthy lifestyle and equality in sport.

·         Representing students’ views and interests regarding sport to the University and other external organisations.

·         Producing and managing the Athletic Union Budget.

Vice President (Academic Affairs)

Shall be responsible for representation of the student perspective on academic issues within the University, this entails:-

·         Establishing and supporting an effective course representation system for all academic areas within the University.

·         Providing strategic direction to the Education Committee.

·         Sitting on working groups and committees within the University.

·         Keeping the University informed of student opinion on academic affairs.

·         Enabling and facilitating representation from           International Students, Mature Students, Postgraduate Students and Part-Time Students.

·         Maintaining close contract with SUAIC and assist in developing its strategic direction.

·         Supporting the Academic representation Officer in co-ordinating the School Presidents and any Students’ Union presence at the University Academic sites

Vice President (Media and Communications)

Shall be responsible for effective communication between the Students’ Union and its membership through a variety of media and the promotion of student issues, this entails:-

·         Facilitating two-way communication between the Students’ Union and its members

·         Having overall responsibility for Union media, signing off on every external publication

·         Assisting Union Officers with Union campaigns, while being the overall co-ordinator of the Media Resources Centre.

·         Developing and maintaining the Union’s Marketing Strategy.

·         Prepare and release Press Releases on behalf of the Union.

·         The overall co-ordination and organisation of Freshers’ Week.

·         Supporting the Equal Opportunities Officer in co-ordinating any campaigns, including the organisation of resources to support the work of the Equal Opportunities Officer.

Vice President (Welfare and Societies)

Shall be responsible for representation of the student perspective on welfare issues within the University and beyond, and for promoting the strategic development of societies, RAG and volunteering within the Students’ Union, this entails:-

·         Providing strategic direction to Welfare, Society RAG and Community Volunteering, through their committees

·         Co-ordinating action on welfare issues.

·         Taking a leadership role in the promotion of society and volunteering interest within the Union.

·         Taking a lead with the Equal Opportunities Officer on issues relating to equality and diversity

Winchester President

Shall be responsible for representing and supporting the view and needs of Union members based in Winchester, this entails:-

·         Having overall co-ordination and responsibility for the Students’ Union in Winchester.

·         Representing the views and interests of all students studying in Winchester.

·         Overseeing the development of facilities of the Students’ union in Winchester.

·         Overseeing the marketing of Students’ Union facilities in Winchester.

·         Being the primary Students’ union contact with the Head of the School of Art.

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The new Sabbs get started

Hi everyone,

So the Sabbatical Role Review is back under way.  As you can imagine it has been quite a busy handover period for me and the new Executive team for 2010/11. Despite this, the Sabb review is something that we wanted to ensure did not lose steam and be overlooked during this hectic time. Therefore we have scheduled two days to open the discussions on the review, one having already taken place last week and the next to be on Friday 13th (that lucky date!).

As you can imagine, our first meeting involved heavy open discussion and it is noticeable just how early in the process we still are with this review. Whilst building on the early work carried out by our predecessors and engaging in the decisions and discussions that took place between them, we wanted to go back to the drawing board and start with a blank sheet of paper so to speak. The approach we took was to imagine we had no Sabbaticals yet in place, whilst making sure that all the responsibilities that a Sabbatical should have would be fulfilled in these roles. We started this by reviewing the ‘what should they do’ blog post from the last team discussions and added a few areas we felt were missing. It may turn out that this “blank slate” approach may not be needed and our roles will simply just have to be tweaked, however we felt that this way was best to open the discussions amongst officers.

There was very little to conclude from the discussions at this opening meeting, but it was extremely encouraging to see so many engaging conversations between Officers and so many different points of view.  The comments on this blog post have been especially helpful to us.  We have also taken a look at some of the other Russell Group Students’ Unions to see what Sabbatical Officer posts they have in places, which has created an even broader spectrum for us to work with.

So all in all, an encouraging start and we’re convinced these discussions will move on and continue in good time for the next SUSU Elections – we’re hoping to take a proposal to Union Council in the first term.

Keep blogging; keep posting your thoughts, as in all these discussions we will often be directly referring to your comments. We can’t do this alone and we need as many viewpoints as possible to come up with the perfect Sabbatical structure for Southampton!

Please keep watching this space; I’m sure there will be lots to report! Keep blogging!

Regards,

Billy FitzJohn

Union President

2010-11

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What should they do?

One of the outcomes from the recent Sabbatical look at their successor’s job roles was a list of all the things that should come under the responsibility of a Sabbatical.  Whether they are simply held to account for them, or actually leading and delivering the activity and service.

It is clear that Sabbatical Officers have highly complex roles.  Many Students’ Unions clarify these by suggesting that they wear four “hats”.  So what are these hats?

  • Campaigner
  • Representative
  • Trustee
  • Activity Leader (Portflio/Minister)

In the recent Sabbatical Review Session the current sabbaticals identified these current and new job roles and accountabilities, which they feel ought to be covered within Sabbatical Roles.  These are listed below.  You can click here to read the current allocation of roles.  The next step will be to decide how these should be grouped into jobs.  But before the new officers can begin to look at that we need to hear your views, so tell us what you think in the comments.

Campaigner

  • Campaigns to
    • Improve awareness
    • Promote support available
    • Change something
    • Push for change in the University
    • Push for change locally and nationally
    • Push for issues to be resolved
  • Campaigns in Halls
  • Improve funding, student space, degree shows, facilities and halls at Winchester
    • Academic Campaigns
    • Welfare Campaigns
    • Lifestyle campaigns

Representative

  • Liaise with the University on
    • Sport
    • University Accommodation
    • Academic Policies and practices
    • Equality issues
    • Student Experience generally
  • Represent externally on
    • Welfare and housing
    • Academic and HE Policy issues
    • Life in Southampton
  • Individual Student Representation (SUIAC)
  • Held accountable to students for all decisions through Union Decision Making bodies

Minister/Portfolio

  • Supporting student –led groups
    • JCRs
    • AU Clubs
    • Societies
    • RAG
    • Community Volunteering
  • Overseeing student media
    • SUSU TV
    • Wessex Scene
    • The Edge
    • SURGE radio
  • Delivering Welfare Campaigns
  • Promoting Community Relations
  • Academic Representative System
  • Delivering Academic campaigns
  • Communication
  • Co-ordinating Freshers’ Week
  • All Union Publications
  • Media Relations
  • Running Winchester SU
  • Sport Development
  • Events
  • Commercial Services
  • Democratic Processes
  • Port of call for support

Trustee

  • Ensure the Union is well run and secure
    • Union Strategy & Planning
    • Finances and other resources
    • Democracy
    • Equality & Diversity
    • Ethical and Environmental matters
    • Discipline of members (inc clubs / societies)
    • Union Marketing
    • Staffing
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Sabbs discuss Sabb roles

Okay so at the beginning of June, as promised at the AGM all of the current Sabbaticals met up to discuss the Sabbatical Review and look at all of the roles and the possibility of new jobs that needed to be incorporated.

The discussion, as you can imagine was not simple and went on and on and on for a very long time. We discussed the current Sabbatical Roles and each of the duties and accountabilities placed in them as well as some others that we had been given a steer to by council and AGM. These included Events and Commercial, International and Post-grad and a Welfare and Socs split. Other themes that emerges were things like Community, Satellite Sites, Accommodation, Sports Development and Media Relations.

Before we began our discussion we had a long and hard think about what a Sabbatical is for and why do we need Sabbaticals to the jobs that we do. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is not simply just to give it a Sabb as some jobs can be done much better by people who are after all doing it for more than a year. We talked about the jobs that Sabbaticals carry out and how some of their jobs could be done by staff and the things that really should be done by Sabbaticals.

One of our first conclusions after much considered discussion was that themes such as Post-grad, International and Sites were, although representative of concerns about under-represented groups, too cohort specific. Working on this logic we would have a Sabbatical for every significant group on Campus, which, with a limited number of Sabbs is infeasible. Our conclusion was that all of the Sabbs should provide the range of services that in their specific remit, to all groups. Otherwise we end in a situation where single Sabbs provide all the services that all the Sabbs are meant to provide to their one specific group.

The discussions carried on further. We decided to raise events as a possibility of a Sabbatical position for Events as Commercial, not simply because it was raised at AGM but because it has been brought up consistently in a number of our consultations throughout the year. We discussed this in great depth and we also took a steer from the discussion at the AGM. Some students did not feel as though a student fresh out of their degree, was as qualified as a professional events manager to provide consistently good events years on year. Sabbaticals vary in quality year on year and that’s not something that we feel that we could rest our events on. We did conclude however that there was a gap in accountability for Events and Commercial Services and we decided that this should definitely be explicitly put into a sabbaticals job description, though currently it lies implicitly within the president’s and partially within Media and Comms, probably because of the marketing aspect.

We were presented with a similar dilemma when the question of accountability for democracy came up. Once again this is a duty tacitly assumed by the president but without anyone explicitly responsible for it, bits and bobs falling in between different Sabbs. We determined that this also needs to fall within someone’s explicit remit.

We also discussed the possibility of splitting Welfare and Societies which is a bizarre combination, not replicated, as far as I know, anywhere in the country.  We discussed in great depth the idea of combining Sports Clubs and Societies into the Remit of a VP – Clubs and Socs or VP Student Activities. This is a much more common role nationally. It would also free up the Welfare Sabbatical for nuancing.

We went on for a long time, but I feel that we made a lot of progress for our initial meeting. Our almost concluding sentiment was that there needs to be a shake up, but the answer was not necessarily increasing Sabbs, although this may be necessary. The solution was most likely in changing current roles and assigning remits into current roles. It is a really exciting discussion and we are completely open to how people think the Sabbs should work. If you have an opinion please make it known on this blog. Or if you have any views on what we have discussed, please (respectfully) make them known. We are all ears.

Steve O’Reilly
Union President

2009-10

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Give us your thoughts

We’re ready to get this ball rolling.  If you’ve got any views on the Sabbatical review, post them up here as a comment.  The current Sabbaticals are getting together on Thursday 3 June to start looking at this.  They’ll explore various questions:

  • what is the point of a Sabb?
  • what is their current role? (outline from constitution is here)
  • what do they currently spend their time on?
  • who else could do that (if anyone)?
  • what else is as important?

So, if you’ve got any thoughts on these or other aspects of the review – let us know in the comments here…

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