The SA Home Student Officer, Syahira Khan, spoke to IGNITE recently. She told us about her year in office, which included her work with the Welfare Committee, the surveys that she carried out, the type of feedback she has received regarding the food situation on campus, and dishes out advice for her replacement.
How has your experience as Home Officer been?
In these 9 months, I’ve learnt a lot, especially about internal issues. It actually takes a long time to get things sorted. If you look at my manifesto, you can see a lot of points with good intentions. However, executing it was quite tedious because I’m a full time student. Other than that, I loved it. I love my team; they’re very supportive. Overall, I would say that it was a good experience.
Did you manage to achieve any of the goals that you set out for yourself as Home Officer?
I have achieved some. However, I would say that it’s very different this year. Executing plans take a while because it’s not just about wanting to execute it. You have to have a team and there’s only so much you can delegate. I feel that we don’t publicise our work, so a lot so students don’t know what we do. You can only have so much transparency. You can have recordings and stuff like that but how many people actually check their emails? The SA has such a bad reputation. Before I was part of the SA, naturally, I got negative views from my friends but I was quite optimistic. You won’t know that you’ve tried your best until you actually take on that role.
In regards to my goals, I’ll be very blunt and say that I haven’t achieved all of them.
However, I have achieved some goals, such as carrying out surveys so that the upper management can gauge for improvement and from there they can act on it. I think surveys play an important role.
What steps have you taken to generate more participation from local students in student-related events?
There is only so much you can do because awareness about events plays an important role. I’m carrying out local surveys now, so I’m don’t know the participation rate yet. As for participation, that’s more of the SA Activities Officer’s role while for me it’s more to do with Welfare and handling the reports after that and looking at students’ feedback. With my surveys, I will be able to gauge the participation rate. The Activities Officer and I basically work hand-in-hand.
How were the response rates for the surveys that were carried out?
The overall response was better than expected. We were able to gauge the pros and cons, as well as overall improvement and satisfaction levels and the upper management then deals with it. We are basically the medium of communication. We don’t have a say on contracts, but we do have a say in what we want. Getting contracts is not easy, especially in a term of 9 months. There is only so much they can do. I think students should be more understanding and appreciative, because Nottingham is one of the top universities in the world. Also, the campus is beautiful compared to so many other universities. It’s normal for human beings to want more but you have to be feasible and appreciative. I mean, which university has a gazillion study areas?
How has the response/feedback been for the newly opened food franchises on campus?
We have been getting good responses for the newly opened food franchises especially for Secret Recipe and Subway.
However with regards to Sodexo, there will always be negative feedback.
Sodexo say that they cater to the Google crowd*. The student population wants something fast, with maybe a couple of gourmet selections. However, with Sodexo we can only say so much because at the end of the day it is up to them. They want to have our feedback but they’re so busy because they have franchises everywhere. So instead, increase the variety, as with the newly added vending machines. People don’t have to always go to 7 Eleven, especially with the lines. This way, the lines can decrease a bit. I think Subway and Secret Recipe are brilliant. You can have your healthy options with Subway while with Secret Recipe you can sit down if you want.
Are there any plans to bring more food franchises to UNMC?
I’m not sure about that, because it wasn’t mentioned in the meetings but I’m sure there is. Maybe the next Home Officer will sort that out.
What were the issues that you faced and were any of them particularly challenging?
Managing my welfare committee was very tough. It takes a lot, especially when problems hit the fan because you have to clean it up. I found that there needs to be changes in the welfare committee with regards to recruitment. Also, the committee needed to have more discipline. I was too lenient with them.
I think I could have done more planning during the summer.
More planning in regards to surveys, such as having a template. I would also recruit the welfare committee during the summer, because we spend a lot of time recruiting and training them during the first semester.
Any advice for future candidates?
Of course, I actually have a list! First would be in regards to the welfare committee and the Malaysian Society and trying to work along with them. Next, would be in regards to surveys – having templates and getting them sorted. Also, plan your events and make sure they are events that you can execute. Finally, you should always have a Plan B and stick to your events for the whole year.
Interview by Le Vian
Written by Jeanne Wong
*We were unable to verify the statement that Sodexo caters for the Google HQ in Mountain View, California.
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