Posted by: sarahwakefield | July 19, 2010

Week Four&Five: Planning for change

The past two weeks have involved a plethora of exciting events, including the formality of my graduation, an exec away day and the rather formal Board of Governors for the University. During the latter event, one wise  man told me that it was easy to make changes in one year, or even five, which are noticeable because they mess something up, but making positive changes are usually so incremental that the fruit they bear are often not seen for many years. This seems to be because often the most positive change we can make in work, and even in family and friendship groups, is one of a culture change and laying strong positive foundations.

However, when chatting to students who have elected me, or senior University officials it doesn’t sound dynamic or sexy to say my big aim for this year is to lay in place a culture which will allow positive student led change to occur in future years. Indeed, there is a chance this year we will fall far short of the potential which Manchester has.  One of the unique and most exciting aspects of being part of ‘the student movement’ is  the fluidity with which everything flows as each office has one year to make their mark. This also means we have to be cautous of being active, not reactive (see last weeks blog) whilst having achievable, yet ambitous aims.

The theme of July generally seems to have been that of planning. Although we have all been getting down with representation we have also been attempting to  get some plans in place for the coming year.

Chatting to various exec members we know a big part of the problem is that we can work extremely hard, for lots of hours (usually more than we’re contracted for) but end up feeling like we have achieved very little. Indeed, if we are  constantly coming up with amazing ideas, but not getting much further with them than the ideas themselves then we can end up achieving very little.

Thus we have been talking about some exciting ideas which are possible for us to achieve this year and not infringe on the steady process of creation of a positive culture. This year, therefore, we’re going to impliment a priority campaign for the first time in many years. That priority campaign is going to be based around education funding and will be focused on the NUS’s demo which will be taking place in November (many more details to come!). We’re also getting a new branding campaign for the union going so we can better communicate to our members the many services which we offer as so much of what we do. We had an exec away day where we spoke about lots of these issues including how we can ensure that we are focusing on issues which students are concered about. Rather than guessing, this year we will be sending out staggered surveys to students to make sure we are focusing on those things which only a union can provide such as an awesome course rep reward system and better society development.

We’ve had a planning month, but without engagement of students and good representation this will all fall down. With cuts facing the University the Union’s funding is not secure either and we need to get good at what we do. That means lots of unsexy planning and cluture change along with some flashy ‘this is what your Union does for you’ advertisment, and if you want to get involved, you know how to contact me!

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