Erin Lyons: We’re half way through the first semester, how is it going so far as DoSDA?
Meg Platt: It’s going really well, it’s just been busy, busy, busy. It’s strange my job started in July and I remember thinking ‘oh there’s loads of time’ and now it feels like I’m playing catch up every day.
EL: You had plans to move Employability week to November, what’s happening with that?
MP: It’s actually going to be in February now. When I was originally looking at Employability week it was going to be the week right after the referendum which wouldn’t have worked.
Employability week is going to be trying to target second and third years in particular, and first years as well if they’re feeling keen. I’ve been working a lot with the Careers Centre, Paul Brown and his team there. I think a lot of what they do, especially because of all the fairs they’ve got going on right now, a lot of that is targeted, or attended at least, primarily by fourth years. I want to take this opportunity to get sub honours students involved and try and get them interested.
EL: One of your main campaign pledges was to improve the Union website, how is that going?
MP: Those who are very involved with the union will know that we are contracted with BAM right now to do our website and do all of our marketing. BAM have actually got in contact with us and they will no longer be doing websites, so our contract was set to go on for another year but what’s nice is that by the end of May we will be out of that contract. We’re still exploring our options but I’ve been working not just with the Sabbs but with Rachel, our Design and Marketing Officer in the Union to see what the best solutions are going forward.
I think what is really frustrating about the website isn’t just the layout but it’s how complicated it is to change anything. My bottom line is that I want something societies can use, whether it’s selling tickets, promoting events, it has be something that is flexible for them.
We have been speaking with the University and with DUSA (Dundee University Students’ Association) because they’re updating their website at the moment. Another thing we’re thinking about, with the referendum coming is there is the possibility that we could be joining NUS Digital. I want to be really clear, that is an added extra, so if in the referendum we vote to join the NUS it doesn’t mean necessarily that we will be getting NUS digital, there are universities that are with the NUS that don’t use it.
I’m sure as a student though it must be incredibly frustrating to hear ‘this is happening, we’re working on it, I promise!’ They need a tangible result so in the interim we’re trying to do as much as we can through Facebook and STAR. I know it’s not enough but we’re trying to do everything we can.
EL: The Union redevelopment is going to impact on the space available in the building for societies, how are you managing that?
MP: I’ve been working quite closely with the University on that, obviously the thing they are really keen not to jeopardise with the redevelopment is student experience. There will be some room closures as all the work in phase one is happening at the front of the building. Student Services is right over Bess and the problem is they can’t be doing their advising where there is building work. So we’re going to be moving them up to the top floor in the music room and part of the TV room.
Obviously this is not ideal as space is at such a premium so I’ve spoken to the Proctor’s office and provisionally, it hasn’t been confirmed yet, they’re going to be lending a few spaces in the University when they wouldn’t be used for classes, so after 5pm. The bottom line is we will find space.
EL: The NUS referendum has now been confirmed, how important was it for you personally to stay impartial as DoSDA?
MP: It certainly wasn’t something we had to do, it’s not a requirement of running a referendum but I think all of us felt more on a personal level than a professional level that a lot of the issues last year that happened with referendum, the fact that some of the sabbaticals had such strong opinions, I think that muddied the waters a bit. Our bottom line is we really want this to be a referendum that is free and fair and I on a personal level think that is really difficult when there are sabbaticals taking sides.
I trust the students of St Andrews, they’re a pretty clever bunch, and I think they can make those decisions for themselves. We’ve been working quite closely with NUS and a group called Counter Culture that did an independent audit, something which we didn’t have in place last year, the Elections Team will be releasing that information as soon as it’s ready.
EL: Finally is there anything else you have organised for this semester that you are particularly excited about?
MP: I’m really excited about the St Andrews festival; recently I’ve been working a lot with the different performing arts groups and with the community to get that off the ground a bit more. I think in the past couple of years it has maybe not been quite as good as it could be, in terms of the fact that we are St Andrews and here is St Andrews day; there are so many potential things that could go on, we’re such a creative community.