Nominations are now open for RUSU’s 2020/21 team of representatives.
The roles- which are open to all students at UoR- include the five salaried positions of RUSU President, Welfare, Activities, Education and Diversity Officers, as well as part-time roles including Women’s, BAME and LGBQ+ Officers.
The election period- running from January 13th to February 28th– will also feature the selection of next year’s student trustees and school reps, resulting in more than 1,500 students stepping into leadership roles across the categories.
Commenting on the benefits of the part-time officer roles, current International Officer Sara Mattar said: “Throughout my role as part-time international officer I have enjoyed many things, especially working closely with the diversity officer and part-time officers.
“I have enjoyed creating campaigns and events for internationals to make them more integrated in the University community.”
The roles also offer unique opportunities for skills development including leadership, the promotion of change, and most importantly, networking and meeting new people.
Sara added: “One of the many opportunities I have enjoyed during my role is the opportunity to attend the UKCISA conference in London. The talk focused on what internationals are facing in education and how we can make it better for them.
“I would encourage each student to go for a part-time position as you work closely with the University and are the voice of all students you are standing for.”
Those who apply for the part-time officer roles must self-define before nominating themselves as this information is an important aspect of the positions.
Students can also choose to nominate themselves to represent the entire student body in one of the five full time officer roles.
Speaking to The Spark about her initial reasons for applying, current RUSU President Molli Cleaver said: “I love working with people and being able to make their experience better. I was really lucky to have an amazing University experience but not everyone does, so I wanted to work to tackle that problem and make theirs even better.”
Molli- who is now 6 months into her role- also highlighted the benefits of the position: “This job is like no other job you will ever have. You are suddenly thrown out of your graduation gown into a position of quite big responsibility and influence where you get to drive the direction of a multi-million-pound charity.”
“Background access is another huge perk. I’ve learnt that there is a lot on campus that I had absolutely no idea about; it’s really interesting to see what goes on to keep the University running and to be a part of that is exciting.”
“Another perk is the team. I may be slightly bias, but the team you work with at RUSU is such a strong and welcoming community. Everyone has been nothing but warm and inviting and this extends out beyond RUSU to all University staff.
“On a serious note, you are also given an equal voice and voting rights in all decisions where an Officer might be involved, so this role is beyond just being a head figure for the organisation.”
Molli also reflects on her favourite moments as President so far. She said: “Going along to the honorary graduations in the Summer was a great experience. I also get to do TV and newspaper interviews from time to time which is a weird sensation as someone actually wants to know what you have to say.
“I really love seeing students excited for something. It means we’ve done our jobs right and makes what I do extremely rewarding.
“I guess the one key part of my role is chairing the RUSU Trustee Board which oversees the running and delivery of RUSU.”
And although the election period is known for being one of the biggest and most exciting events of the RUSU calendar, Molli also notes that applicants need to put time and thought into their applications.
Molli said: “The roles are very different so even if you are only a little bit curious, I’d highly recommend coming to talk to one of the Officers.
“The number one thing I have learnt is that the role is far bigger than you will imagine; there is so much that goes on behind the scenes I had no idea about until I started.”
Her top tips for the all-important manifesto also included: “Be realistic, don’t over promise and don’t rush it. If you win, you’re mandated to complete your manifesto so make sure your ideas are achievable.
“Feel free to come and talk to the Officers and speak to students around you to see if there is genuine interest.”
And those applying for the roles aren’t the only ones who need to commit some time to their decisions.
From February 25th (11am) until 28th February (3pm), all UoR students will be welcomed to vote for the candidate they think is best suited for each role.
A question time event will also run prior to the voting period when candidates will speak to students about their manifestos.
Commenting on the importance of voting in the election, Molli said: “These are the people that will be driving the direction of RUSU for the next year, so you have to make sure that the right people are representing you.
“Question time is a really good way to understand the candidate’s motivations, manifestos and how they respond under pressure to a room full of students.
“The elections take up such a small proportion of your life that it is really worthwhile that your voice is heard, and we are giving you the platform to do so.”
Molli also gives readers some direction for recognising a strong candidate. She said: “I think the word genuine sums up a successful candidate pretty well. Is their manifesto genuinely there to enhance the student experience? Do they want the job for the right reasons? Are they someone who you believe can represent your voice?
“Don’t just vote for someone because they are popular or because everyone else is voting for them, try to see the bigger picture and whether their ideas meet your values and demands.”
Nominations are open from Monday, January 13th at 10am until Friday, February 7th at 3pm.
You can vote for your favourite candidates at rusu.co.uk during the voting period (25th-28th February).
The results of the elections will be announced at the Results Party on Friday, February 28th.
To view the full elections timeline visit https://www.rusu.co.uk/pageassets/representation/elections/annual-election-timeline/annual-election-timeline-19-20-B.pdf.