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As elections take place across campus, SCAN set down to talk to some of the leaving Part Time Officers about their experiences and how their roles have changed over the past year.
Why did you run for the role?
Fé Mukwamba-Sendall (Part Time Officer: Mature): I actually got the role introduced in 2015. I realized there was a huge gap in support, that mature students were really the last ‘minority’ on campus with a CCO.
Laura Brown (Part Time Officer: Women+): I ran in the by-election because no one else on the committee could, and when elections came around again I had realized I was capable and liked it. So I ran again.
Freya Williams (Part Time Officer: Students with Disabilities): I ran for the role as I’ve suffered a lot of isolation due to my disability and wanted people to have a safe and confidential place to communicate their issues and also spread positivity.
Best parts of the role?
Fé: That it exists.
Laura: When a campaign goes really well, like reclaim the night, International women’s day – I remember sitting at the open mic night, and it was a great feeling, like hey, I did the thing. Also meeting really great people.
Freya: The best part of the role was being able to communicate people’s views and encourage peer support within the group. I was able to introduce people to each other who have now become really good friends and myself meet some great people.
Worst parts of the role?
Fé: We’ve had a hard time getting awareness about the role out. Especially for mature undergraduates, who have a very different experience.
Laura: Sometimes you’re shouting into the void. You don’t always get the support you need, LUSU doesn’t always use their reach to get things out there. It can be really hard to get things talked about, to get campaigns off the ground.
Freya: The worst part was feeling so anxious whilst talking in front of a room full of people at the meetings. Luckily everyone was welcoming!
How has the role changed while you were in it?
Fé: Having the PTOs on the Exec now has been more engaging.
Laura: The names changed since we’re not CCOs anymore. We get less money because part-time officers are all one budget. From a policy standpoint, it really makes the motions process difficult, as everything liberation groups cover is controversial and will have to go to the student jury so policy has to be right the first time.
Freya: (came into the role this term) I’ve attempted to make sure there are fortnightly meetings for our group.
What do you wish you were able to do but were unable to?
Fé: Get us through as an association, which is still hopefully happening. It would allow us to better represent all mature students, and push for more standardized support across campus.
Laura: Free moon cups, which were too expensive.
Freya: I wish I was able to give more time to the role, as it is so important and we all deserve awareness! I wish I was able to kick-start campaigns more and get more attention from students.
What advice do you have for the person who comes after you?
Fé: Juggle things correctly. I was not able I was able to give the role all the attention it needed, especially as a new role. Make sure the voice of mature students is heard and not forgotten, especially undergraduates.
Laura: DELEGATE. You have a committee for a reason, life is hard and busy, don’t let this consume your life. Part Time Officers need to people running because they want it, not for political reasons or as something to add to their CV.
Freya: I know they’ll be great, it will be stressful but make sure you look after yourself too! You will make a lot of people happy and proud!