Gandhi said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” and if you feel that your experience at the University of Salford needs to be changed then here is your chance. The nominations for annual sabbatical officer elections are now open, this means you could be potentially running a multimillion pound charity which runs to make sure you love your life at Salford. Sabbatical officers are responsible for looking after the day to day activities of the Students’ Union. There are 5 sabbatical officers elected every year these are: President, Arts & Media officer, Business and Law Officer, Health and Social Care Officer, and Science and Technology Officer.
I am currently working as a Science and Technology Officer, this means I look after the needs of student who are studying in school of Built Environment, School of Computer Science and Engineering and School of Environment Life and Sciences. But this doesn’t end here as a sabbatical officer I look after various project boards, for example I sit on the Estate board of the University of Salford which is responsible for providing state of the art infrastructure and security to all the students studying at various campuses of the University. I also sit on various committees of the University in which we look after academic, learning and social experience of students while they are here at Salford.
Being a sabbatical officer of over 18000 students is quite challenging as we have a wide range of students here at Salford. Such as mature, distant learners, part time learners, students with family / carer responsibilities or simply being an international student. This makes the job difficult as you have to cater for every students needs while being in post and have to make impartial decisions based on your experience. We have students from over 107 different nationalities which brings one of the culturally, religiously diverse student population on campus. You will be that face which students say hello to on every corner of campus and may approach you with different issues related to their experience at Salford. This will be challenging to you as an individual as well as a team of officers to improve this experience at Salford. This experience as a sabbatical officer will improve your personal skills and will bring you heaps of experience to make you an effective leader. Being a sabbatical officer of the organisation you go through several networking opportunities with likeminded people at various national / regional conferences for NUS, BUCS (For Sports and Activities) and any other governing bodies. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to make the connections which can help you in your future endeavours once you finish your term as an officer.
I can say being a sabbatical officer of the students union was one of the best experience I ever had at Salford. I decided to run for the elections as I am passionate about Salford and to help to improve student experience at Salford. I as an officer worked on various campaigns including the famous “Bring back the Campus Bus” campaign which made University reconsider pulling the plug on the student friendly transportation around campus. Another important project that I was working on was the events calendar of the Union had mainly similar kinds of events which weren’t catered for the diverse population. This year we saw more cultural and religious events or activities taking place than ever before Balkan party, Black History Month, Transgender awareness day, Diwali are just examples. I also worked on improving library and software collections in PC suits across campus. Currently I am working along with our Activities and Sports department with starting Varsity with University of Chester.
It is difficult to comment what responsibilities you will be taking up as an officer because some of the responsibilities are to be shared between the team. However there is plenty of things you can work on. These above examples are just to give you an idea of what is to be expected from a “Sabb-life”. If you are not sure of running for this year’s election I strongly urge you to submit that nomination form you have nothing to lose. If you don’t fill that nomination form you will miss out on an experience of a life time. To those who have nominated themselves if you have any questions pop in and have a chat with me or our student engagement team about it.
Have you ever had this moment when you felt that no one but you can change some of the things in your university? Have you dealt with issues that no one could resolve for you? Have you been in a situation where you are extremely passionate about something that applies to a number of students both in your institution as well as nationally? Well, I have experienced that and decided that being a sabb would help not just me but many other students facing the same issues.
Being a sabb is not just about being elected. It is about being trusted. When someone votes for you, they trust you for representing them, for supporting them, for fighting for them. You run in elections and get such a valuable experience. And yes, not everybody that runs is elected but they are definitely rewarded with some campaigning experience, lots of new relationships and motivation.
By being a sabbatical officer one can improve not only their communication or political skills but also their way of approaching people, dealing with difficult situations and leaving a mark. I ran because I wanted to bring a change that would help many and different students. I ran because I am passionate about the experience of the student body at the University of Salford. I ran because I want to increase students’ positive feedback not only on paper but in reality. Being a sabb is not just about you being a President or a Vice-President, it is about you being the first person students choose to count on when in difficult position, it’s about being a good friend, a leader, a true and honest believer.
I hope you decide to nominate yourself in this year’s elections and wish you the best of luck with your campaign!
What is it like to be a sabbatical officer? A fine question indeed and rather difficult to summarise, nevertheless… As of writing this I have served one term as Vice President and I am currently 6 months into my second term.
No day is the same, I can guarantee that and those of you that are elected will soon understand that fact. The very nature of a sabbatical officer has a certain degree of freedom, the ideas and dreams you wrote on your manifesto can come to life, but only by hard work and determination can you turn those dreams into reality. The job will you pull you in many directions, you will have chances to try your hand at many different aspects of the Union and University, which will present you with fantastic opportunities for later life. You will work as part of a team of 5 officers, some you may get along with some you may not, but that is the way of the world I’m afraid. You will become ‘that guy’ and students will say hello to you around campus, some of them you may not have necessarily met but because you are the face of the Union that’s just how it is. You will work long hours because the job simply does not end at 5pm, but mixing work with a social life is key to success as a sabbatical officer. You should challenge yourself (and those around you) to find ways of improving life for students at Salford, failing to challenge yourself defeats the point of nominating yourself in the first place, so with that said.. You will challenge yourself.
Now this next bit is not to blow my own trumpet but an attempt at showing how diverse the role of a sabbatical can be.
I helped with the organisation of the Welcome Week calendar that over 5000 students were involved in, bubble football was a particular highlight for me. I have been involved in securing the extra grant funding from the University that expanded our Activities and Representation department which subsequently went on to hire 5 student placements, of which I interviewed 3. I was involved in the new catering company for the entire University food outlets, down to the contract to the colour of chairs in Allerton Cafe and even the new ‘Salfood’ logo. I was involved in ensuring Wednesday afternoons are kept free of timetabling commitments (to be in place fully by Sept 2015). I was involved in the process that secured £624k for our new Bar and Cafe Atmosphere (you new students don’t know how bad the old place was!), from the financial bid to the interior design of the venue. I am the Festival Director of Atmosfield Festival, a student music festival to be held in Peel Park on May 30th. I helped plan the Student Rep conferences in November in which over 250 reps attended.
They day to day life of a sabbatical officer is difficult to bottle up, I hope those of you reading this have at least a small understanding of the role and go on to run in the elections. I won’t lie and say it is easy; you have to convince hundreds of students to vote for you over a very intense 1-2 week period. So fill in that nominations form because if you don’t you’ll never find out if you could have been a Vice President or President of the Students’ Union.