The UMSU Chapter

This is a page in which I’ve archieved some of the information I put on here while I was General Secretary for the University of Manchester Students’ Union – which was an incredibly exciting and challenging year for me.

What did I do?

My name’s Sarah and I am UMSU’s General Secretary for 2010-11. It is my role to stick together the opinions of students and all the work the Union does and ensure that we are representing you well to the various structures of the University.  Due to this a large part of my time is spent going to University meetings, the most senior of which is the University’s Board of Governors and in this I work closely with the Academic Affairs Officer. It would be impossible for one person to understand every student, so the General Secretary’s role also involves ensuring that the Union’s staff, building, commercial outlets and finances are working to represent students interests. In jargon this is referred to as ‘enhancing the student experience’, but what this means is giving you the best opportunities for activities and feeding back to the University what you think of your academic experience here.

Making sure UMSU  is an active and not reactive pressure on the University

–          I will be making sure that issues which students, Union Council and Exec bring to me are put on the University’s agenda at meetings, rather than passing comment on the University. This involves talking to different people within the University at regular intervals and of course canvassing students for their issues of concern.

Putting Higher Education cuts at the top of the agenda

–      This is UMSU’s priority campaign for this year and successful campaign against the threat which cuts present involves organising for a big demonstration on the streets of London, but also educating our Council and members about what cuts mean so we can present the University with a strong and robust response to any proposed cuts.

Making sure UMSU  is accountable to you

–      I will be out and about round campus for at least 2 hours every week and will encourage all Exec and Council members to do the same. I am also working on setting up a Student Voice Department in UMSU which will collate your opinions so we can feed them back to senior levels of the University.

Reviewing UMSU’s structures to ensure they work for you

–      We are working on a review of how UMSU is run and we will be looking at how we can improve the way we promote your interests and represent you, in everything from our commercial services to our academic representation, from our governance to our society provision. This will incorporate evidence which we gather throughout the year from you about what you think we do well and not so well.

This is what I am pledging to do if you elect me. With a lot of experience in different areas  know what is realistically achievable and how to get it done. If you have any ideas or comments please get in touch with me!

My official video along with the other election candidates is here

Vote Sarah Wakefield #1 for General Secretary.

Experienced, Positive, Independent.

For a Union that can.

The Union can improve the life of every student in Manchester.

The Union is more than a building.

It is a place of empowerment, achievements and friendship.

Under one roof you can host a radio show, get published, find welfare, run a campaign, watch films, make art, get academic advice and support, put on a play, drink beer, party at Pangaea, make policy, get elected, go to debates or melt lots of Fairtrade chocolate.

There’s much more, and if you think anything is missing, the best thing about the Union is you can make that missing thing happen!

The Union can listen to you.

The Union can be for everyone.

The Union can campaign for you.

The Union can be accountable to you.

The Union can improve the life of every student in Manchester.

The job of the General Secretary varied involving many jobs including overseeing the Union finances, shops and bars while organising campaigns and getting excited about students and their passions!

I am standing because I want to see the Union fulfil this potential.

Please help me by voting Sarah Wakefield #1 for General Secretary.

For a Union that can.
Sarah Wakefield is passionate, principled and approachable, she has the energy and experience to deliver for students – excellent qualities for an excellent General Secretary!” UMSU General Secretary 2009-10

I am not standing to further a political career, but because I am passionate about making a difference and the job of General Secretary will allow me to do this full time! So please vote Sarah Wakefield #1 for General Secretary.


The Union is most effective when it listens to its members!

I want students to know what the Union is doing, how they can run the show and why this makes a difference.

–          Increase the level of student participation in the union by getting first years represented on Council by introducing a November by-election to make sure first years have a voice and representation in the Union.

–           I want to see an increase in numbers of students making and voting on Union policy making sure the Union is looking after their interests by getting General Meetings online, while keeping the Wednesday debate.

–          Make sure students are in the loop on all Union activities by using Student Direct and Fuse FM more effectively.

–          Get students involved in the local community by continuing to support the Union’s own community groups, Student Action and RAG.

“Sarah Wakefield is more fun than a bouncy castle and her enthusiasm never ceases to amaze. I believe she is the perfect candidate for the job!” UMSU Activities Officer, 2009-10


The Union belongs to you, so it can work for you!

Having chaired two societies and written for Student Direct, I understand the difficultly of balancing a degree with an active Union life. I will make sure the Union is a friendly place working for all its members.

–          Ensure societies and students have the resources they want by reviewing the current resources and rooms available for students’ use.

–          Revamp the Union café and update the menu by expanding take-away options, increasing the selection of fresh sandwiches and getting more veggie and vegan options.  Getting more seating areas for students to relax and feel comfortable.

–          Keep the Union free from fascism, racism, homophobia and sexism and ensure that all under-represented groups have a voice in Union democracy by continuing to support liberation campaigns.

Sarah Wakefield is one of the most hard-working and committed students I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I’m quite sure the quote ‘if you need something doing, ask someone busy and they will do it‘ was written about Sarah!” UMSU Women’s Officer 2008-09


The Union can represent your concerns on the increase cost and diminishing quality of higher education!

With my experience organising two Fairtrade weeks and with Reclaim the Uni I know how to run campaigns. I will give student issues priority in Union campaigns by talking to students on North and South campus about their concerns with their education.

–          Fight against cuts and increasing tuition fees and run effective campaigns to protect the quality of education.

–          Increase awareness of the welfare and academic support the Union provides by promoting the Union’s advice centre.

–          Continuing the Union’s commitment to environmental and social justice issues by promoting Fairtrade, the Student Sustainability Forum and supporting the campaigning societies.

Sarah Wakefield is a well experienced campaigner who will the use the knowledge she has to run amazing elections and studenty campaigns. An all round good-egg.” UMSU Campaigns Officer 2009-10


The Union and University can let you know how and why they spend your money!

Using my experience on Council I will give support to students who engage in the Union while making sure everyone knows what is going on.

–          Clarify the role and responsibility of Union Council members and provide better training and promotion of their work.

–          If elected, I want to spend at least two hours every week outside of the Union, talking to students including time on North Campus.

–          Increase the information on what the Executive get up to in their working hours by advertising open exec meetings and increasing information online.

–          Ensure University Management hear the concerns of students, who pay their wages.

“Sarah Wakefield is a rare find in a students’ union; multi-talented, exceptionally hardworking and genuinely committed to furthering democracy and accountability. You’d have to go some distance to find someone quite as positive and resourceful. Sarah can only be a force for good as far as students are concerned.” UMSU Student Direct Editor 2009-10

For a Union that can

Vote Sarah Wakefield #1 for General Secretary

Experienced, Positive, Independent.

My Experience in UMSU

Check out some of the experience I’ve had doing different activities in and around the Union. This was originally up as part of my campaign, but it’s interesting to keep here as it will help you understand what I have direct knowledge of if you’re interested in getting something started and I hope it also shows the scope of activities which one student can be involved with in their time at University.

UMSU Council (Humanities General Member) 09-10

Challenging Orthodoxies Society (Secretary 08-09 and Chair 09-10) 07-10

Student Direct (Writer/Features Editor/Politics Editor) 07-10

Make Trade Fair Society (Chair and Activist) 07-09

Fairtrade Week (Coordinator) 08 & 09

Pangaea (Volunteer) Winter 09 & Summer 09

Reclaim the Uni (Member) 09-10

Harmony Gospel Choir (Singer) 09-10

Fuse FM (Guest) “A Little Bit Moore” Spring 09  “The JCB Show” Autumn 09

Open Media (Member) 07-09

Critical Mass (Participant) 08-09

PPE Society (Member) 07-10

Dalton Ellis Hall Committee (Charity Representative) 07-08

myUMSU (Member) 09-10

Fairtrade Steering Group, University of Manchester 07-09

Fairtrade Steering Group, City of Manchester 07-09

Reclaim the Night (Volunteer) 09

Riveters (Member) 08-09

G20 Put People First March (Participant) 09

The Wave, Climate Change March (Participant) 09

Amnesty International (Member) 08-10

Student Sustainability Forum 08-09

Ubuntu Fairtrade Cola (Brand Representative) 08-09

Friends of the Earth 07-09

UK delegate to conference on ‘The Future of the EU’ 08-09

I also included some of the nice things which some people have said about me during the campaign.

“Sarah Wakefield is passionate, principled and approachable, she has the energy and experience to deliver for students – excellent qualities for an excellent General Secretary!” Gabriel Hassan, UMSU General Secretary 2009-10

“Sarah Wakefield is more fun than a bouncy castle and her enthusiasm never ceases to amaze. I believe she is the perfect candidate for the job!” Jacques Graves, UMSU Activities Officer, 2009-10

“Sarah Wakefield is one of the most hard-working and committed students I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I’m quite sure the quote ’if you need something doing, ask someone busy and they will do it’ was written about Sarah!” Jennie O’Hara, UMSU Women’s Officer 2008-09

“Sarah Wakefield is a well experienced campaigner who will the use the knowledge she has to run amazing elections and studenty campaigns. An all round good-egg.” Laura Williams, UMSU Campaigns Officer 2009-10

“Sarah Wakefield is a rare find in a students’ union; multi-talented, exceptionally hardworking and genuinely committed to furthering democracy and accountability. You’d have to go some distance to find someone quite as positive and resourceful. Sarah can only be a force for good as far as students are concerned.”Jennie Agg, UMSU Student Direct Editor 2009-10

“Ever since I was fortunate to meet Sarah I’ve been amazed at how much work she does for students in so many different areas. From Fair Trade to Online Voting for GM’s Sarah has a steady head in the midst of a lot of politicos. If anyone can be trusted guiding our Union to greatness it’s Sarah.
I don’t think you’ll find a harder working, more dedicated and cooler Gen Sec around. Get ready for the best Union year yet! ” Mark Harrison, Proposer of the ‘Get General Meetings Online’ motion, 3rd Year Physics Student

“With a passion and enthusiasm in and around the Union I was lucky enough to encounter early on in my time there, Sarah Wakefield had persuaded some of the most cynical people to walk through its doors of its importance. That ability to engage alone puts her head and shoulders above anyone else in becoming the Union’s General Secretary.” Girish Gupta, Student Direct News editor 2008-2010, 4th year Physics Student.

“Sarah is highly motivated and a natural leader – during her time with Make Trade Fair she took the initiative and showed she had the drive and imagination to build something really special. I can think of no one better than Sarah for General Secretary.” Barnabas Prouse, Co-Chair Make Trade Fair 2009-10

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