Posted by: sarahwakefield | June 18, 2010

Week One: Meetings (University, NUS, staff, exec), training and a few more meetings

A week of many meetings! It has comprised of everything from a team building game of rounders to a meeting with two University senior staff, chatting to the NUS President elect Aaron Porter to getting my head round union finances.

It’s really exciting to have finally started the job which I was elected to in March. Since that point I’ve had to contend with a dissertation and final exams and I had a really great time finishing my degree and focusing on some academic work before getting stuck into my role in UMSU. Much of this week, and next week, is spent working out exactly what that role is going to comprise of and when I’ve done that I’ll put it on another tab on this blog and with a jargon buster for any acronyms which I use.

There really has been no rest for the wicked: on Sunday the new exec left from the Union steps at 8.30 for a lodge in Lymm which has conference facilities (and really good cream teas) to have a training from two NUS regional directors. They helped us think through how we work together as a team (there’s 13 of us, with hopefully another to be elected in October,a non sabbatical representative for post-grad and mature students), but more importantly hammer it home to us that our role as elected officers is to Represent students. This means that much of the Union’s Commerical work is done by staff members who run our bars, shops and gigs which helps raise money so we, the exec officers, and make sure that we are working on representation of your views to the university whether on Acadmeic affairs, events or campaigns and general “enhancement of the student experience”.

We had three days on training and this produced some beautiful images which I will upload to photos soon!

After this we got into the Union on Wednesday morning to start our inhouse training which has been given in lots of interactive sessions by the outgoing officers and include sessions about building effective campaigns, governance and what being a trustee involves. It was a bit of a shock that Gabriel and I had a meeting in the very posh John Owens building in the University to talk about some of the changes which the Union is going through at the moment half an hour after I got in the door, but it was a really good wake up call for me to realise that on non academic issues a large part of my role is to be the medium talking between the Union and the University and in a year of cuts, this is a role which it’s important to take seriously.

I’m really enjoying getting stuck into work, and I’m hoping enough planning and preparation at this stage will ensure that many of manifesto pledges which you elected me on can be fulfilled and the Union will be a building and a community which really can improve the lives of all the students in Manchester.

Something which previous friends who have worked as Executive Officers in UMSU have warned me about it that you don’t know any organisation until you’ve worked for it, but perhaps better communication and a welcoming atmosphere can  help offset this. Hopefully you’ll be able to learn a bit more through this blog and coming in to chat to me, but more importantly the exec officers, council and other Union active students being out and about chatting about what goes on here and why it’s great fun to get involved. Remember the Union is there to represent you, use your assets!



  1. While the commercial side of UMSU is important and best left to people who know what they’re doing – the union is our building as well, and students have to share it with other groups that make us money. Please don’t forget who that money is for when they try to make it difficult for us to book rooms and hold events there.

  2. Miles (Activities) is really keen on getting the room booking system improved (perhaps online) this year.

    There are some amazing less-used spaces, especially on North Campus which we’ll have to look into publicising more.

    Hope this helps!

    BTW great post Sarah!

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