University Campus Suffolk
University Campus Suffolk
New Year, New Union
By Linda Walker
With the new University Campus Suffolk Students' Union Executive Committee now firmly in place, the staff and students are gearing up for a year of change both in and out of the lecture theatre.
Preceding the completion of the new flagship University Campus Suffolk building on the Ipswich waterfront comes the birth of its Students' Union.
Paddy Reilly took up his position as the Students' Union General Manager in February 2007. He was faced with the task of building the union from its then non existent position to a fully functioning organisation.
The Students' Union became a legal entity in September 2007 and from that point came the unenviable task of moulding the union to cater for an increasingly diverse student body.
Not just a bar
The union is responsible for looking after student welfare and providing on-campus facilities for students. These include the fantastically equipped arts shop and the modest Student's Union bar.
Paddy is keen to stress that although commercial services are key to the union's success it is important that students to do more to get involved in the union than simply propping up the bar.
"It's the single biggest problem I have to face," said Paddy. "The words union and bar seem synonymous with each other but as we get more students in from the outside hopefully mind sets will start to change."
The Students' Union will serve students based at each of the five sites. The Students' Union Executive Committee, along with Paddy, will work from the main Ipswich campus and make regular visits to the other sites at Bury St Edmunds, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Otley.
A unique union
While it appears unlikely that individual Student Union offices will be funded on each of the five sites, Paddy says every provision will be made to ensure that all students feel a connection with the union.
"There are very few examples of where this has worked. You'd usually have a university which is spread over two campuses certainly not five.
"The campuses are so far apart that it makes things little harder to organise, but over time there will be a lot more integration."
A new president
The Students' Union Executive Committee officers that were elected are Howard Smith, president, and four general committee members - Charlotte Bowles, Louise Miles, Andy Speed and Ed Watson. Howard gained 142 of the 239 votes cast.
Like many students who take an interest in student affairs, Howard recognises the positive impact that this can have on his career. He also has high hopes for his time in office.
"Being a brand new university and a brand new union I saw this as my opportunity to put my mark on something," said Howard. "With the amount of building work going on in the education quarter in Ipswich over the next few years, I want to make sure that the Students' Union is really at the forefront of that.
The Students' Union bar.
"I also want to increase student involvement in the university and make sure people get what they want from the union, including the bar."
Howard showed me around the bar which, despite being small, was enjoying a busy lunchtime. There was also evidence of a number of clubs and sporting activities to keep students busy.
Like Paddy, Howard is keen that the bar isn't the only important factor in the union's development, but he admits that it is something he is regularly asked about.
last updated: 26/06/2008 at 11:27
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