6 months ago I wrote an article about how I went from not knowing much about the OU Students Association to observing one of the most important Association meetings. In this video, I talk about what has changed for me in the last 6 months since my first Hoot article…
Hi everybody, for those of you that do not know me, my name is Gareth and back in January, I created an article for the hoot. It followed my time as an observer at the Central Executive Committee meeting, and I detail how I had gone from becoming a brand-new volunteer, to attending one of the highest committee meetings in the Students Association. It detailed exactly how I had gotten into things, how I was feeling and how my first meeting went.
Today, I had reason to actually look back on the reasons I became a volunteer, and it reminded me of that article. I actually thought, it might be worthwhile doing a bit of an update, as the last 6 months since then has been pretty chaotic. At the end of that article, I actually mentioned that the best way to get involved was to take the first step, so today I am actually going to talk to you about the next steps.
So, what exactly has happened in the last 6 months for me?
Back in February, I decided that I was going to stand in the upcoming election. I spoke to some experienced volunteers, including the current holder of the office in which I was planning on standing for which was the Faculty Association Representative for Business and Law. I also spoke to some other members and asked them how they felt about being part of the Central Executive Committee, and following my experiences at the meeting as an observer [in January], it really clinched for me that I really wanted to be involved.
Standing in the election was really nerve-wracking for me. We had to create a 2-minute presentation about what we wanted to do, basically like a manifesto. It was not until the end of the two-week nomination period, and when the forums opened, do you actually realise who you are standing against. Now for me, it turns out I was standing unopposed, which in one sense, I was really disappointed at. I was actually looking forward to a good debate with somebody else about what sort of things they wanted to do for the faculty, and what I wanted to do for faculty. I do not pretend to have all the answers, and I thought I could have gained a lot of insight from it, but it was not to be.
So it came to the time of voting, and as I was unopposed, I just had to ensure that more people wanted me than those who wanted to re-open the nominations, which thankfully, hardly anybody wanted to reopen the nominations, so I was elected to be the next Faculty Association Representative for Business and Law and I am going to be taking over that role on the 1st August [from Matt Porterfield].
Also, some of you may be aware, that during this time, there was a little thing known as a global pandemic starting to happen, with everyone’s lives being turned upside down, and I know that I had a lot of meetings planned in March on campus, including my first ever Faculty Assembly meeting. All of this got cancelled, with some of them moving online. I also know that myself and many other representatives, not just on Central Executive Committee, were really busy answering students questions about what was happening, what different terminology meant, and it was really quite a stressful time for all of us.
We have now started to become a bit more used to it [the pandemic], with a lot of exams and EMA’s cancelled, and some will be sitting there in the coming months. What really changed for me because of it, is how much more I became involved. I do not know if this is because of the recent election, or because it is easier to get students involved online, but I found my calendar filling up a lot more, and I have been in a lot more different things. A particular highlight for me is my involvement in the development of the new law modules, coming out in Oct 2021 and actually providing a student’s perspective on the difficulties that we face. A particular area of that where I had some influence was around the timing of assessments and how sometimes when studying full time, they can clash quite a bit.
The other big event that has happened in the last couple of months was the tragic death of George Floyd. Now, I never considered myself to be a racist at all, but I have really found myself questioning my own views on whether what I feel is actually correct. I think it has been the same for a lot of people and there has been a lot of inside reflection. I think this is still ongoing for me as I have tried to understand what changes that I should make, to make the world more tolerant for people around me.
I attended a recent event hosted by Wonkhe, who had a couple of guest speakers from a black background, who talked about their experiences, and they actually challenged a lot of my own thoughts I had going into it. This is something which is ongoing for me, as I am sure it is for everyone else, but I think it is important that we don’t just let it die out and go quiet, and we need to continually challenge it.
Also, as we are now approaching the first of August, we are getting closer to when I take over the office, so I have had a lot of discussions with Matt [Porterfield], the current post holder, about the things that he is currently doing, which I will be taking over from him when he goes off to his new role. I have also been speaking to a lot of the reps from the faculty, just so I can get as many experiences as I possibly can.
I am really looking forward to actually taking over on the first of August, and I am excited to see what sort of changes we can make, especially as we get used to this new normal, where we will have a chance to put our own stamp on things whilst things start to get readjusted.
Back in January, I was talking about that Central Executive Committee weekend, and we are now going into another Central Executive Committee weekend, where I am going to be an observer but this one is going to be a lot more different, where it will actually be the handover weekend where we will say thank you to the outgoing committee members, and the new committee members will be involved in the discussions that they have so that we are best placed to go forward when we take over in just over 2 weeks’ time.
I am looking forward to the next part of my journey and have enjoyed reflecting on the last 6 months with everything that has been happening to me. I am looking forward to looking back again in 6 – 12 months’ and seeing what has changed, cause if I have learnt anything from the last year, is that things can change really fast. Sometimes they will be outside of your control, like the COVID pandemic, but you can also make a lot of changes yourself. I have gone from nothing to actually be a member of the Central Executive Committee in the space of 12 months. Looking back on that journey, I really can’t see how quickly it happened, but I really want to encourage everyone who wants to be involved, to actually take that first step. That will then lead to the next step like it has for me.
Take care everyone, and hopefully, I can come back in 6 months and update everyone with what I have been doing and the changes I have managed to put in place.