Since becoming President of the SU after graduating in 2015 Joe has made an indelible impression on the university, and enriched the experience of many thousand of students. Read a Q&A session with him here to find out more about him, his work, and his exciting plans for the future. Make sure you don’t miss the video at the end of the article, included to demonstrate that working for the SU isn’t just about the hard graft.
2015 – 2017, President of Bucks Students’ Union
What does your work involve?
My main objective is to make life better for students at Bucks.
Myself and the two Vice Presidents listen to students and their concerns in multiple ways.
We have an open door policy, all students are welcome to pop in to the Students’ Union at any point to have a chat with us informally or formally, or they are also welcome to contact us over social media.
The Union Council is an open platform for all students to attend and have a say on how the union is run, and we are accountable to this platform. Meetings occur once a month and this is where we hear a lot of the most up-to-date feedback from students and can engage in active discussions. We also frequently invite guess speakers, and have a representation system that aims for each course to have at least one student rep. Reps are rewarded for gathering feedback (good and bad) and bringing it to the PCMs (programme committee meetings) where the feedback is relayed to the academic staff involved in that particular course.
We also evaluate the NSS survey along with all the PCM action sheets to help the university identify what may be key themes affecting students.
As President I tend to deal with the more serious and wider arching issues that can potentially cut across all areas. President is the head liaison between the Union and the University. It’s my duty to get an answer from the university regarding what the issues or questions the students have raised. The President can have overall say on a decision that involves the Union – however the way I like to operate is that I prefer to share my views with my staff (mainly fellow sabbs and Union SMT), or if I need feedback on a potential issue I’ve identified I will ask Union Council for their views.
Everything I do has to have a positive impact on the student experience, and being accountable to the Union Council ensures my ideas remain true to Bucks core aims.
How did you manage the transition from student to SU President?
During my studies I was offered a short term Associate Lecturer position within Sports Science course during a busy period of the academic year, giving me the chance to gain first-hand experience of what it’s like to be an educator. This helped me bag a strength and conditioning internship at Premiership football club Watford FC.
Alongside my studies the Students’ Union provided me with plenty of extracurricular roles that helped me strengthen my transferable skills. Roles such as fresher/activities week helper, student rep, 1st football captain, venue supervisor, university football activator, elected student trustee and then President. I also received a platinum award in volunteering for 250+ hours, which looks pretty on my CV
Being re-elected as President was an achievement I am especially proud of.
Please tell us about a campaign you introduced and managed as the President of the SU.
One of the most significant campaigns that I introduced to Bucks, and ran twice over my two years as President, was ‘Sexual harassment is #NeverOk’. It revolved around making people aware of the topic, where to go if in need of advice, and how to report an issue, to ensure the university is a safe and supportive environment for everyone. Over 2,000 signatures of support were collected, hundreds of people visited the website, this clip was viewed over 1,000 times in different formats, and 1,500 #NeverOk branded wristbands were given out.
What advice would you give to a student who is about to graduate?
Use your network to good effect. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or help. Sometimes it’s about who you know rather than what you know to get your foot in the door so make connections whenever you have the opportunity.
What advice would you pass on to your first year self?
Enjoy the freedom of being a student. There is a lot more responsibility after you graduate. Take advantage of all opportunities that arise at Bucks, especially for free through the Big Deal, you never know what you might learn, or who you might meet.
What does the future hold for you?
I will be moving to Dubai to broaden my horizons and experience different cultures, so I am currently looking for jobs in universities based within the UAE. I have found this first experiences of working in Higher Education, representing students and facilitating positive change, very rewarding and wish to continue this type of work if it is possible. I also have a keen interest in sport, reflected through my degree obtained at Bucks, and I hope to progress this side of my career also whilst in Dubai.
Via the Students’ Union, Bucks New University graduates can support students in a variety of ways. From offering volunteering opportunities and workshops, to simply sharing with your own influential networks the wonderful work they and the students undertake.
Bucks alumni are welcome to visit the Venue free of charge, and for a small fee can take part in many of the additional skills training sessions the Students’ Union offer. For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As we promised at the top of the article, here is a video to show that working for the SU isn’t just about the hard graft…