Spotlight on Volunteer Officers

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How do they volunteer their time?
Each Volunteer Officer has a specific responsibility, with some representing specific groups of students such as liberation groups. Volunteers are able to shape their volunteering depending on their interests or current issues. They may choose to run campaigns, events or attend meetings with staff to have conversations about making positive change to lives of Aberystwyth students.

Volunteer officers are also a voting member of Senedd, which means they have the opportunity to directly influence Student Union decision making.

What have volunteer Officers done so far this year?

  • Faculty Officers have attended three Faculty Academic Affairs Committees (FAAC) since the start of term. It’s important that Faculty Officers have attended these meetings because as current students, they have an understanding of what it’s like to be an Aberystwyth student at the moment, and can effectively voice student feedback. So far, they have been able to discuss issues such as accessing online lectures and resources, postgraduate inductions, employability and special circumstances.
     
  • Liberation officers have been involved with a range of activities; your LGBTQ+ officer created an online vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance, and has been helping coordinate activity for LGBTQ+ History Month including writing a blog post on lesser known identities. Your women’s officer is currently working on a video project to stand in solidarity withthose accessing abortions in Poland. Your BAME officer is looking into the University’s provision of Halal options, and your disabled students officer wrote an important blog about their experiences as a student with a disability for Disabled History Month.
     
  • Section officers have also been hard at work; your environment and sustainability officer submitted policy to Senedd to join the NUS Student Switch Off initiative, and your mature students' officer has had various meetings with high level University staff to facilitate discussions on improving the support available for student parents.

How have they adapted their volunteering due to COVID-19?
Everything has needed to be online this year, but it hasn’t stopped meetings going ahead or campaigns being planned. It’s still possible to have conversations and connect with others, so it’s positive that they’ve been able to continue their activity.

What benefits can you gain from becoming a Volunteer Officer?
Being a volunteer officer is a really unique opportunity; it enables you to connect with likeminded students and ensure that all students have the experience they deserve at university. Depending on your role there may also be the opportunity to attend an NUS Conference to meet students from other universities and hear more about the long term strategy for Higher Education.

You will also develop a lot of transferable skills which help build your skill set. Some examples of skills a volunteer officer might develop are:

  • Campaigning – how to identify a problem, motivate people and create genuine change.
  • Communication – you will be working with diverse groups of people, so adapting your style of communication will be key.
  • Organisation and time management – volunteering alongside studying is always a balance, so getting involved with one of these roles is a great way to experiment with different time management techniques.

How can you become a Volunteer Officer?
Since Volunteer Officers are representative roles, you need to stand in our Spring Elections.
This isn’t as scary as it sounds and you’ll get help from SU staff to support your campaigning if you’d like to go for a role! The best advice we can give is to go for it – you’ve got nothing to lose, and lots to gain!

You can find the list of roles available here: https://www.abersu.co.uk/shapeaber/elections/volunteerofficers/

If you’d like more information email Alice, our Democracy and Campaigns Coordinator – alr80@aber.ac.uk

To stand in the election (good luck!) fill in the online form here: https://www.abersu.co.uk/shapeaber/elections/

Still unsure? Why not pop along to one of our Candidates' Academy sessions, which are happening once a week until the end of standing. These are informal 2 hours sessions, where we go through the role of the SU and our top tips for campaigning in more detail. Check out the blog post here.

Candidates' Academy: What is it, and why should I go to one? (abersu.co.uk)

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