There are so many ways to have your voice heard and make a change as a student at the University of Hull. With three Student Voice Assistant roles available for application, we asked Ellie about her experiences as a Student Voice Assistant and how students can make a change on campus. The positions provide a great opportunity to develop your CV, learn new skills, meet new people and contribute to positive change.
Over to you Ellie!
When I applied for the job of Student Voice Assistant last year I thought I had a pretty good idea about how the union helped students to affect change on campus, but after getting started I soon learnt there was more than I realised. My role involves spreading the word about how students can get involved with the work of the Student Voice Team - whether that’s through elections, being a Course Rep or Your Ideas- as well as often offering my perspective as a student to the permanent staff members.
One of the struggles we face is that a lot of students just aren’t aware of what our team can do for them, so we have a huge focus on promotion. This year we have tried to expand the number and types of students we reach by appearing in new locations around campus. You might have seen us in Canham Turner, in Courtyard or even at the Lawns, as we know that some students don’t regularly use the union building and that shouldn’t mean they miss out.
Our engagement with students has seemed to improve as a result of this and other steps we’ve taken. Long before voting week it was our job to recruit candidates for the elections, and each of the sabbatical positions had at least two candidates, with the Union President having a whopping seven candidates, making for an interesting and competitive election. Obviously it was not our job to promote specific candidates, but instead, we aimed to get as many students voting as possible. With the success of Question Time, as well as the number of candidates, turnout increased a fair amount when compared with the last couple of years. 16.6% might seems like a low turnout, and students may think this is disappointing. However, when considering the increase that was made (from 14.8% last year) and placing it in the context of other university unions’ elections, which tend to have low turnouts, you can see that this was actually a success for our team and the union as a whole.
Participation can be quite low in general. Students are busy, especially those who study part-time or are on placement, but many overestimate the time it takes to make an impact on the union or university. Yes, running for a president or part-time officer position requires a fair amount of time and commitment but there are other role options. Course Reps are not expected to give more than 1-2 hours a week to their role but they can make a real difference and some courses are currently unrepresented, meaning students are missing out on a key way to improve their experience. Your Ideas is a scheme our team oversees, where you simply need to submit an idea to improve things on campus and if it’s plausible and receives enough votes from other students an officer will be assigned to it and will work to implement it. Even if you don’t have an idea yourself you can make a real difference by voting on other people’s, as sometimes there are great ideas just waiting to get enough votes to be implemented.
This is just a handful of ways our team can help you to affect change, so if there is something you really want changing or to get involved with just come and talk to us! I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as a Student Voice Assistant, learning so much more about how I can make a difference as a student, and it’s very easy for you to do once you know how.
Want to make a change like Ellie? You can apply to be a Student Voice Assistant. There are three positions available. You can apply here.