Why you should get invloved in the SU
Written by Abdi Hassan
To give an introduction to this article, I am a penultimate year Business Information Technology student at Leeds Beckett University. This article is to provide information on what the students’ union does, what opportunities it offers and how the SU can be an important part of your university experience.
“The Students’ Union is the organisation that represents the interests of students within the University and further afield. Everyone registered on a course of study (be it full time or part time and irrespective of which site they are studying at) are automatically members and can access the wide range of services and activities the Union runs, and are also entitled to get involved in the primary representational purpose of the SU.
Through the elected student officers and professional staff the Union’s main purpose is to work with the University to better the educational experience of all students, and it does this through a variety of approaches, such as representation at senior University committees and through running the Student Academic Rep system. The Union is student led, with the senior elected officers (sabbaticals) having a high level of access to University Senior Managers and a responsibility to actively involve students in the development of Union policies and strategies.” – An introduction to the students’ union from the University of Cumbria.
Not everyone is aware of how important the students’ union is and the opportunities and resources available to them and this means that students can miss out on what the SU can offer them. I was unaware of the SU until a friend recommend that I use students’ union to help me support my education. So when I went into my second year, I decided to become a course representative. I was nervous, quiet and scared that I wasn’t able to do the role properly but I received support from the staff including the Vice Presidents who all play important specific roles. I also decided to join societies. I ended up joining Ethical Hacking Society, then later on I had joined CompSoc which was attended by students from similar courses and this helped me network with fellow students. I met a variety of different people, from placement students who could gave me advice on how I should go about securing placement to final year students who were sharing their advice on how difficult final year is. It also helped me develop knowledge and skills in different areas in IT and all of these things helped me with my confidence. I made friends I would have never made because not many people socialise during lectures and seminars and societies gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. After discussing with fellow students I knew from my class and students from societies that I was involved with, they recommend to me that I should run in the student union elections for a sabbatical officer role. So I considered it as possibility.
However, everything took a halt when I suffered a leg injury with septicemia (Blood poisoning) during my first semester which put me in the hospital for a month and then took another 2 months to recover and walk again. This had put a halt in my placement search and studies, when I had returned to university. The Students’ Union elections had started. I had put myself forward for it as I had lost all my confidence and thought it was perfect opportunity to do so. I still had a bad leg from the whole previous incident but that didn’t stop me. I had ran a campaign to get myself elected and learnt many skills including marketing, effective campaigning, public speaking and networking.By the end of it, I had gained a lot more confidence. Even though I lost, I still came third out of seven people. Afterwards I put it on my CV and I got offered so many placement interviews from the experience. The university ran a general election campaign to get students voting and from the experience of SU elections and my renewed confidence, I was offered employment from SU to support the campaign. I also returned to my course rep duties and gained a voluntary position as a Digital Champion to support how technology is used within the university.
By the end of the year, I had been nominated for Campaign of the Year from Give an X general election campaign, course rep of the year 2015 and awarded outstanding contribution to the SU with Give an X Campaign team at SU Awards last year and still continued to be involved as many would know including being elected AET Faculty Rep for the next academic year and placement student with the University’s IT Services. I also received academic support for my learning disabilities. I have also developed skills and experience that will help me in my career and my confidence is really growing from it all. The students’ union was the platform I needed to develop and enhance my experience at university.
In conclusion… The students’ union is the perfect platform to stand out from the crowd. It offers an advice team to give you advice on any issues you might be facing at university. It’s in charge of the academic course rep systems and there are also employment and volunteering opportunities, events, societies and opportunities to get involved with media. Many students who got involved with the SU have gone on to find employment and develop great careers.
Find out what opportunities your students’ union has! That is all from me.