Guild Sabb Interviews

Ben Meakin

Guild President

Ben Meakin

Briefly describe your role in the Union

As President I organise campaigns to help students in Aberystwyth get the best experience from their time in Aber. This includes everything from working with the other sabbs on something such as ‘I Love Aber’ week or sitting on university meetings to make sure that the senior management are making the right decisions for students. Ultimately the buck stops with me if there are any issues that involve students of Aber.

What can students come to see you about?

My door is always open (unless I am already seeing someone) and with that in mind students can come and see me about absolutely anything! If they have a problem and don’t know where to go I will be able to point them in the right direction or help them myself.

What did you study as a student here in Aberystwyth?

I studied Geography before I was elected.

What attracted you to Aberystwyth?

I came to Aberystwyth because the Geography department looked amazing and with so much ‘geography’ on the doorstep it seemed like a logical place to be, I soon found out there was so much more in Aber than my course and got involved in Bay Radio and a few other sports and societies which ultimately led me to where I am today.

Where is your office in the Guild?

My office is near the end of the corridor through the doors at the end of The Joint, look out for the signs!

What, if anything, would you like to see change within the University over the coming year?

With the incoming 9k fee’s I think there is a lot that needs to change in the university and I’m sure lots of changes will happen. I want the Guild to become more of a central focus for student life in Aber all day every day, not just at night.

What plans do you have, within your role, for the upcoming year?

Well one of them I’ve mentioned above, but I also plan on creating a big focus on Private Accommodation so that students are given as much advice as possible as it can be a daunting world looking for a house with your mates. I also want to work with the careers department, as students need as much help as possible in the current job market. I’m also planning on changing the democratic processes of the guild such as GM’s and generally making it as sexy as possible!

Tammy Hawkins

UMCA

 Briefly describe your role in the Union

I’m this year’s Welsh Affairs and UMCA President (Welsh Language Students Union. My role as UMCA President is to represent the Welsh students within the University and organise various events for the Welsh speaking community.

What can students come to see you about?

Anything they want – I’m always happy to help. But my particular role covers Welsh Affairs, so anything regarding the Welsh language.

What did you study as a student here in Aberystwyth?

Welsh

What attracted you to Aberystwyth?

Pantycelyn and the great Welsh speaking community – the beautiful setting was a HUGE bonus!

Where is your office in the Guild?

I’m down in Pantycelyn Halls of Residence, next to the Large Lounge (Y Lolfa Fawr)

What, if anything, would you like to see change within the University over the coming year?

It’s engagement with students over all, but particularly to insure the Welsh speaking students’ needs are fulfilled as plans for the “New Pantycelyn” develop. Also to ensure that the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol(Welsh Medium National College) is given it’s rightful status, and used to it’s full potential within the university.

What plans do you have, within your role, for the upcoming year?

I hope to encourage those with an interest in the Welsh language/culture to join us in our great union I’m hoping this year to ensure that plans for the “New Pantycelyn” meet the standards required by the Welsh students, and to launch our new work experience scheme ‘UMCA in the Community’. By working very hard with the other Sabbs I hope to ensure that you have a great year at uni, and that create memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

 

Alun Minifey

Activities Officer

Briefly describe your role in the Union

I am the Activities Officer, I look after and ensure that all sports clubs and societies within the guild are supported by the guild. From putting on events training and giving general guidance I try and ensure that all the non academic activities within the university are enjoyable friendly and constantly available. I along with staff organise the Rugby 7s, Varsity, Superteams, Societies Dinner and quiz and  I hope to add even more this year. Which includes the brand new Guild of Students Awards Evening. Also as a sabbatical I try and ensure that union is delivering for you the student.

What can students come to see you about?

They can see me regarding any issue, anything to do with guild, anything to do with a club or society and generally getting involved with us. I am pretty open and honest and I will to the best of my ability give you an answer on any subject within the university.

What did you study as a student here in Aberystwyth?

History

What attracted you to Aberystwyth?

Nothing, I was meant to go to Reading; told you I was honest, but the sea, the atmosphere the students create in town really drew me away from Reading and plus I got a bursary.

Where is your office in the Guild?

My office is just through the double doors at the end of the underground, first on the right pop in and have a chat

What, if anything, would you like to see change within the University over the coming year?

The union to get more funding and for activities in general to be given more backing for them to grow into clubs and societies that are recognised nationally. For there to be more sports facilities available for our clubs to be able to train whenever they want.

What plans do you have, within your role, for the upcoming year?

To make sure that we engage with as many students as possible and get the try and promote the guild as the heart of the student experience where everyone can get involved with anything they want. This year I want to set a pathway for all our activities to develop and put an infrastructure in place for years to come. And to make everything bigger and better for the students here.

 

Jess Leigh

 Education Officer

 

Briefly describe your role in the Union

As the Education Officer I have been elected to represent all student on academic and quality issues. From contact ours with your lecturers to how many books and computers are available in the library… I am your sabb! I also spend time representing students on academic appeals, unfair and bad practice hearings.

What can students come to see you about?

Not to repeat what’s above, but anything with regards to your degree and how you progress through University; not getting along with your department to no resources for your course. I am happy to help and campaign for it! My key campaigns this year are: A 24 hour computer room in town, consistency of feedback on assignments and improving the personal tutor system.

What did you study as a student here in Aberystwyth?

International Politics

What attracted you to Aberystwyth?

The sun, the sea, the sand and the course – boring I know, but it definitely wasn’t the hill!!

Where is your office in the Guild? Upstairs, through the door at the back of the main room… on the right F6

What, if anything, would you like to see change within the University over the coming year?

Consistency of feedback, so all students have constructive feedback from academics that they can work with to help them improve.

What plans do you have, within your role, for the upcoming year?

Campaigns… a 24 hour computer room in town, consistency of feedback across all departments and improving the personal tutor system.

 

Tom Burmeister

Student Support

Briefly describe your role in the Union

Student Support covers a massive area, but broadly it’s everything to do with “Student Welfare”. So, students that run into accommodation issues or are struggling to adjust to student life or simply need signposting or referring to the correct service, all fall into my area.

However, the job is not all reactive. A lot of my job is also about setting up events and campaigns to help students feel included in university life and raise awareness of welfare issues important to students. Right now most of time is consumed by organising Fresher’s Week and our cohort of Fresher’s Heroes who’ll help the latest arrivals find their feet and settle in.

What can students come to see you about?

Well, first rule, if in doubt, just send me an email. As I’ve said my job covers a massive area, party because you can never quite predict what problems will crop up with the 8000 odd students we’ve got here. That said, if you need a chat, from feeling totally overwhelmed by work, to needing to know who to talk to about finance troubles, or that you have an issue that you think we should be campaigning on, come in and we’ll tackle it together.

What did you study as a student here in Aberystwyth?

Although I started with a joint honours in History and Interpol, by the end of the first year I’d switched to a single honours International Politics. While I learnt plenty regarding international development and some critical terrorism studies, I ended up really pursuing my interest in media representations of warfare in popular video-games and the kinds of impressions they leave you with. Basically, yes I got to play Call of Duty as ‘research’ for my dissertation – but honestly, stopping and taking screen-shots and notes every 30 seconds kind of takes the fun out of it.

What attracted you to Aberystwyth?

Top of the alphabet…Nah, only joking… partly. I came to university as a ‘mature’ student having spent 7 years working in coffee shops and bars before doing a one year fast track ‘Access to HE’ course back home in Redditch.

I was a little stumped about where to go, but I knew I wanted to do politics and history. So visited Sussex Uni and wasn’t impressed by the campus at all. I visited Aberdeen and found the history and buildings impressive but felt quite depressed by the grey city around me… not to mention all that world destroying oil money.

Finally, when looking at the list on UCAS a friend mentioned they were from Aberystwyth and said it was a really good place. I visited and I just fell in love. It was sunny (as always on Open Days- lies I tell you!!), there’s that view from the concourse, and once I heard the about it being the ‘founding department of International Politics’, I was sold.

Where is your office in the Guild?

My office – G4 – is ‘strategically’ placed through the back of the Underground food court in the Union. Even if you just need to unload some banter I will be happy to oblige.

What, if anything, would you like to see change within the University over the coming year?

‘If anything’? – Why not EVERYTHING! Well, maybe not everything, but certainly we are not short of issues this coming year. I’ll pick one for this and use the other for the next question.

Admissions & Accommodation

Tactically, within the University there needs to be continued work in dealing with the fallout from the over-subscription this year. So making sure there are facilities for all the incoming students in terms of learning and living resources, while also encouraging adaptability and flexibility in the settling down of accommodation issues so everyone is comfortable before essay deadlines and exams.

Strategically, what we really need to focus on is next year’s private accommodation sector. Firstly, we need students better informed of their rights, and encourage them to take their time deciding before signing anything. So every student knowing that their deposit is protected is a key goal. Furthermore, Aberystwyth landlords and letting agents are far from the best, and introducing an accreditation scheme alongside continued discussion with the county council to raise standards, could really change the playing field for students.

What plans do you have, within your role, for the upcoming year?

Developing Student Support Services

While I understand that individuals are working as hard as possible to make the support services we have work the best they can, I am inclined to believe that there are serious structural issues with how they are organised.

For example, the only counselling service that exists for students is provided by our extremely hard-working Student Advice and Counselling Centre within the Guild (just down the hall from my office), and comes out of our ever decreasing budget. Sometimes stretched to their limit in terms of capacity, and counsellors working above their pay-grade in terms of case-severity, this service needs development to deal with the issues mass-scale student intake brings up. However, with the Guild struggling to make money, and the service invested up-to and beyond the self-dictated ring-fence within our budget, the current situation allows the university to sidestep taking responsibility for a well funded counselling service.

In no other university I can find, is this the case. The counselling service should be part of a broader, well resourced student health plan provided by the university, working closely with a Mental Health Advisor to help strategically plan support around the academic year. The Guild should be providing broader holistic health advice, signposting and referrals, plus impartial advice – legal or otherwise.

While it is unlikely that this could change in the next year, I intend to do some serious ground work in preparing the way for such an outcome, so my successor (or indeed myself, should I stand and get re-elected) can hopefully follow through on what I believe is a logical vision.