My first couple of months as the AU President has been a blast, I’ve relished the challenges, and really feel like I have grown up into a real adult now, dealing with so much responsibility, and even more money!
Here’s a brief update of the things I’ve been up to this summer, and how they are going to positively impact (hopefully) the student body this academic year.
Conferences, lots of conferences. I’ve visited areas of the country never visited before this summer – NEC Birmingham for NUS SU’s, Bristol UWE for BUCS Conference, and most exotically, Reichel Management Centre for Y Talwrn! These conferences were an excellent way to throw me headfirst into sabbatical officer life, meeting other officers from other universities, and seeing the day to day problems they faced, when compared with my own, and networking with other sabbatical officers from both Wales and the North West. It was after these conferences that I began to truly understood how underfunded and under-represented Bangor University is in the world of sport, and caused me to do some digging. I consequently found that Welsh Governing bodies consistently fail to represent Wales as a whole, but instead only support clubs and universities in South Wales. This is something I plan on questioning throughout the year, working closely in conjunction with Director of Commercial Services Richard Bennett.
This summer, I have spent more money then I have ever earnt in my entire life. Luckily, due to the hyper-frugality of the Opportunities team last year, the AU were left with a large surplus for the year, that I was tasked to split and spend on the AU as I saw fit. This was both an excellent administrative task for me, but also a great way for me to get to know each of the 57 clubs we have here at Bangor, as it caused to me to scour through their Club Development Forms, for me to try and figure out what I could buy for each club, that would truly help them in their development/performance. Consequently, I was allowed to start my job on a high and make all of my clubs happy, as each club received an item that they had listed on their club development form, which they will benefit from as soon as they return to training sessions.
After this initial financial task, I was given my second book balancing mission. Allocating the grants. With this being an annually, highly contested issue, I approached with great caution. After seeing an increase in the allocation to the AU of £15,000 this year, it would have been very easy to knee jerk, and allocate each club more than they had last year, but I didn’t feel that was 1) fair, or 2) good business acumen. Instead, I worked closely with Sharon Brown and Kathryn Hughes, and allocated what we felt the clubs would need to just survive the year, and for some sports, the amount that would allow them the development that had potentially been neglected in previous years. This has meant that I am left with a large amount of surplus for the year, that will be used in order to fund the first ever AU Dragon’s Den, where clubs can pitch to me, Kathryn and Iona Williams (Sports Development Manager) for items of equipment to benefit their club, or for money towards events that will help raise money for the club (as self-sufficiency is one of my manifesto items for the year).
As you will have seen on the Agenda, VX3 is one of the talking points, and for very good reason. Last year, my predecessor began to enter into a kit deal with the brand VX3. This was an item on his manifesto, that he had the AU body vote on, which was passed via then, but from there, much of the communication stopped. Both to the student body, and the remainder of the SU team. As a result, when I started my role, I was landed with a contract that I was expected to just sign. This contract was fraught with flaws, and small clauses that to me didn’t make sense, so I took the decision to take a step back, have it looked at by a solicitor, and to bring in VX3 and ADM for a conversation. Since the conversation, talks have flown by, and we are now on the verge of signing a well written contract, that will hopefully benefit the brand of the AU and the commercial presence of the Bangor Students Union.
With an increase in grant allowance for the AU, came an increase in the Coaching Budget, something I aim to take full advantage of. Bangor have consistently finished in the 60’s in the BUCS league table, and I’d love that to improve, but for students to develop the skill to do that, they need better coaching. In the past, the traditional sports such as football, rugby and cricket have had good quality coaches, with lesser known sports being left to coach themselves. I have taken big strides this summer to recruit coaches for the smaller clubs such as Volleyball, Lacrosse and Canoe Polo.
Black History Month
As the Sabbatical Officer Lead, and an individual of Mixed White and Black African – it seemed wholly relevant for me to be the lead. I’ve been working closely with Idriss Kamtcheu (ACS President), who has created a full month of organised events, from movie nights, to Great Debates, to even themed nights in Academi. As well as Idriss, I’ve been working with Liz Milman, who is the head of the Jamaica-Wales Alliance, and the Race Council Cymru, to hopefully hold a successful event in North Wales to celebrate Black History.
Student Opportunities Assistant
This week (03/09/18) I was part of the recruitment process for a brand new Student Opportunities Assistant. This was a great experience as I’ve never been part of an interview on the other side of the table! After interviewing 5 excellent candidates, we were left with a top two we couldn’t decide between, and after a brainwave from the Societies Co-Ordinator, it was decided they would both share the job and split it into 2x 10hr contracts.
All in all, I’ve had an excellent summer building the foundations for a great sporting year at Undeb Bangor. I look forward to working with you all for the year, and hope that together we can achieve extraordinary things.