I should imagine (as I did), what the sabbs actually do all the time. When not releasing ground breaking news every five minutes, it’s easy to think that we do nothing. Infact, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity in the Union.
Most of my ‘update’ is taken from my report to the Trustee Board, with a few extras!
On Sunday 5th August, a power surge hit the College data centre whilst our server was in backup mode – corrupting it. The company commissioned to develop the website five years ago wanted nearly £15k to put the server back online (£5k in unpaid ‘support’ fees for support the Union says we never received, and nearly £10k in labour costs). Naturally – as we were developing a new website anyway – I said no. I have spent quite a lot of my time helping develop our new websitethat went live on the 20th September. The old website cost the Union circa £70,000 to develop. As this one has been coded by myself, two staff members and a student volunteer, it has cost £420 and offers more tailored functionality than the old site.
Links with other Unions
I have been actively seeking to associate ourselves with our neighbouring Unions. This is for mutual benefit: our students and theirs get to interact with more people, they get use of our facilities and clubs and societies, and we in return see an increased turnover in the bar, conferences (through a partnership where one institution is using our facilities for a conference), and membership services (through increased club participation).
I have reviewed and presented to the Chairs of the Board, Council and Court plans to reform the constitution. These plans are now ready and waiting to go to Council. The Managing Director and I have started the groundwork on how to structure our new constitution and regulations.
Liaising with local companies, I have secured discounts for students in a few local businesses; more are to follow!
Entry fee proposals
The Union doesn’t have enough data about its customers to make a fully informed (and intelligent) decision about scrapping the entry fee to the Union bars on a Wednesday and a Friday outright, yet. In the first few weeks of term we will be monitoring very closely customers’ and the times people arrive to use the bar.
We have, though, poured over the Stewards’ and door staff’s logs of how many people are in the building, and the bar takings and tried to model different pricing scenarios.
In the Executive Committee meeting today we repealed all past policy on charging to enter the Union. We don’t have policy on the prices we charge for drinks, that would be crazy as the pricing needs to competitive but sustainable: neither should we have policy that sets an entry fee.
For the time being, we have scrapped the entry fee between 20:00-21:30 (so it now comes into effect at 21:30, not 20:00), and reduced the cost from £3.50 to £2 on Wednesdays. We hope that this will encourage students to come use the bars after sports (as all sports clubs arrive back at the Union before 21:00!) and a lower price shouldn’t stop other customers arriving later.
With the changes to Wednesday nights in Metric (less drum and bass, more cheese) we hope that a £2 entry fee for those that arrive later will now actually be value for money – the atmosphere should definitely be better when you arrive!
This will all be reviewed three weeks into term when we have more data to see if more changes need to be made.
We are yet to go through Friday’s data, but will do so before the start of term.
More details will be in Stefan’s blog.
Union Commercial Services
Again liaising with a local company, I have secured a cheaper way of catering clubs and societies. This is building on an agreement with College last year in which external caterers can be used in departmental spaces.
Website/facebook/twitter are all good, but our one main route of communication is viaemail. This has had a complete overhaul – I hope you like the new look!
Commercial Services & Wardens
Work and talks have started with the director of commercial services and the head of the wardens’ committee regarding how we could re-instate the hall senior subsidy.
Preparation of Papers for Council
Much time has been spent researching discussions to be had at the first three Councils of the year, including value added scores, open academic publishing, the creation of a ‘market’, widening participation and UKBA. I have also been writing up renewals of policy that weren’t done at the end of last year.
Responding to Calls for Evidence
I have written half of a response to a call for evidence, the other half being written by our representation co-ordinator. Vague plans for our NSS response 2012 (Olympic themed!) are also being worked on, but are on the back-burner until the full NSS results are released.
Preparation for Presentations
I have nearly twenty presentations to give in the next few weeks; preparations for which are well underway!
Outlying campus visits
The sabb team have been visiting outlying campuses to try and ascertain what different issues can be resolved there, and what the Union can do for students specifically studying there. We are researching strange fire regulations at Hammersmith and minibuses for students in Silwood.
Hopefully understandably, over the summer is the best time to take holidays for us too. We came into these jobs straight from finishing our exams, and are expected to be around all year… as such, we’ve each been covering other parts of each other’s roles. I’ve done three sets – around twelve – sub-warden interviews on behalf of Becky and am tempted to keep doing them after they turn out to be quite good fun…