First-year student Sarah Soe Jia Wei, the lone candidate for the SA Activites Officer position, focused her hustings around boosting awareness of all clubs and societies.
Change Minor Things for Major Impacts
Appearing nervous, the School of Education student began her speech by explaining her intention to “change minor things for major impacts”. The first example she gave was regarding the process of event proposals with regards to the SA website. Soe explains that currently, the responsibility of the SA website is under the Vice President.
However, if she becomes the Activities Officer, she would want to take over the management of the events calendar on the SA website. Soe promised that upon gaining access to the event calendar, the confirmed proposals of events would be put up as soon as they were accepted. She believes that this would lead to the website being viewed by more people. Soe also assumed the minimum amount of events put up on the calendar was causing the lack of visitor traffic. In this case, clubs and societies would only have to plan the event. This, Soe believes, would be a very helpful change.
Improving the EMT.
Next, she touched on her plans to improve the ‘Equipment Management Team (EMT) System. EMT members maintain the equipment owned by the SA, carrying out routine tests and reporting any necessary repairs. They also assist in setting up equipment for SA events whenever required. Soe then explained that her EMT improvement plans tie directly to her idea of implementing a new reward scheme for clubs and societies.
Soe believes that some clubs are more under-appreciated than others. She links this to how the numbers of members which a club has can affect the amount of recognition they receive. Hence, Soe explains that her plan is to change the fact that the Annual Ball only gives out one award for the club of the year. Instead, she would give all events a fair chance by creating more awards. So, specific clubs and societies would compete in set categories, for instance, all the sports-related clubs would compete for a ‘Best Sports Club of the Year’ award, while the academic related clubs would work towards a ‘Best Academic Club/Society of the Year’ award.
According to Soe, this would encourage clubs and societies to be more proactive. To add on, she shares her opinion of how some people create events just for the sake of satisfying the one major event per year rule for clubs and societies. Because of this, she says, some of the events are not well executed. Hence, she believes the reward scheme would change that.
Combining Fresher’s Week and the CS Fair.
Soe then moved on to her point of improving the Freshers Week and the Clubs and Societies (CS) Fair. Her solution is to combine the two events. Fresher’s Week would be reduced to only two days instead of five, and the event would focus mainly on activities and games intended to introduce the new students to the campus and the country. The CS Fair would then follow in the next three days. However, Soe says that she is not planning to have the CS Fair at one specific venue, but instead, have the booths all over campus. The students would be given an itinerary which would help them find the booth of the club or society that interests them. According to Soe, their track across the campus grounds would help them get to know the campus layout better.
Then, keeping within her limited time allowance, Soe hurriedly explained her final point. She explains that she wants to bring the Accommodation Halls into societal events. Her plan is to have a sort of ‘Nations Cup’ but between halls, such as ‘New Halls’ versus ‘Old Halls’.
Question and Answer Session.
The floor was then opened up to questions from the audience. Soe was first asked about the specifics of her plans to assist clubs and projects that need funds. According to the audience member who raised the question, a large amount of money is directed to SA events. This may or may not be due to the different level of quality that each event aims for. Thus, the audience member stated that it would be fairer if a bigger sum of SA grants were awarded to more events and club projects. To this, Soe responded that she was not very sure of the current situation with the clubs. But she supposes that if a valid reason is presented for more financial aid, coupled with a promising turnout, then the grant should be awarded.
The next question was regarding Soe’s plan to concentrate the Fresher’s Week into two days, specifically concerning the types of activities that would be held. To this, Soe tells her own experience as a volunteer at the previous Fresher’s Week. She says that although she enjoyed the experience, she felt that some of the events planned could have been shorter. She also related the question to her own experience as a fresher, during which she expected to be introduced to more of the university and localities, as opposed to the off-campus events and trips that are usually held for the freshers. Soe thinks that it would be best to do ice breaking activities and then maybe one outing, which would be enough for the freshers to get used to the campus environment.
Questions from the current Execs.
Not long after, Uraiba Asif, the current SA Sustainability Officer, followed up with another question. She began by saying that she likes the idea of combining the Fresher’s Week and CS Fair, but she wonders about the existing or current students who may not like the idea of going around campus to sign up for clubs and societies. To this, Soe says that she believes existing students would already have a preferred club or society in mind, and thus would go straight to the area of that club or society’s booth.
She then continues to say that she believes a three-day CS fair would change the current occurrence of sign ups happening later on. She says that this would make things fairer in terms of funds, as students would have time to properly sign up and pay registration fees, instead of informally doing so after the CS fair is over.
Another audience member questioned Soe regarding her plan to decentralize the CS fair, which may negatively impact the lesser known clubs. The questioner explained that when all clubs and societies are situated in one venue, students that check out a more popular club may take interest in a lesser known one, if the booths are next to each other. So, if the clubs and societies are spread out, then the lesser known clubs would have even smaller visibility. Soe replied that this is where the SA website would come in, to help give these smaller clubs more visibility.
Soe then tied it back to her plan to improve the event calendar, saying that she assumes students would visit the site to learn about the clubs and societies before CS Fair commences. Soe also adds that if she becomes activities officer, then the clubs that feel as if they are receiving less attention may approach her, and she would consider a campaigning system to liven up their booth or place during the CS Fair. To this, the audience member responded that she cannot fully accept Soe’s answer as there are specifics that still need to be worked out.
Another audience member then pointed out to Soe that a lot of new students don’t have email and don’t know about the SA website. The overall question directed to Soe was concerning how she intends to let students know about clubs and societies outside of these two sources.
Soe then replied that when someone searches the University of Nottingham in search engines, both the university’s website and the SA website would appear in the results. The same audience member then interjected with her own experience of knowing a lot of people who still don’t actively use the SA website.
To this, Soe responded with acknowledgement that it would be a long process, but she aims to raise awareness of the SA website by reworking the events calendar. Soe then followed up by saying that she would look into these issues, perhaps through timely promotions.
Linur Chubaev, the current SA President, had asked the final question. He asked Soe to elaborate on the reward scheme for clubs and societies in relation to the EMT System. Soe explained that the reward scheme would be based on the EMT who help with the annual ball award every year. Thus, according to Soe, a change in the club and societies awards would sync the two. Some of the methods Soe had in mind were such as holding different surveys for different events.
Soe mentioned that the EMT members would judge events based on the items on the existing survey form, which concerns the total event turnout, the proposal form and so on.
Soe explained that when one club or society outshines another in these criteria, then the club or society would be nominated for the club of the year award. So, if she is elected, she plans to hold a meeting to discuss creating new surveys that judge different clubs and societies on different criteria. For instance, sports clubs would be judged on different criteria from academic clubs.
Written by Amirah Qistina.
Photographs by Ahmed Afrah Ismail.