InFocus: Emily Griffiths, AU President

Photo: Sammi McKee

Pim Ungphakorn: What are the best and worst things about being AU President?

Emily Griffiths: The best thing is being able to interact with the students and getting to see all the great things that go on behind the scenes at the sports clubs. I’ve also enjoyed learning more about how the University runs—things are far more complex than you realise as a student. There hasn’t really been a “worst thing”, but the main difficulty is prioritising work. There’s so much to do which is exciting but it is a challenge.

PU: In your campaign you mentioned how important it was for you to get people of all sporting levels involved. What have you done to achieve this?

EG: This year we’ve got five Saints Sports Scholars who we’ve selected who are all international athletes. We provide them with support, finance and academic flexibility. Performance sport is improving. We’ve brought in new head coaches this year for a number of teams and we’ve now got a new golf development programme. Obviously, being St Andrews, we’re one of the top golf areas in the UK anyway.

For those less confident in sport, we really tried to emphasise that beginners are welcome to all the clubs. As part of the “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind Award” which we are working towards, we have initiatives to encourage students to get involved in sport. We’ve collaborated with the Students’ Association to organise a Rev(ital)ise Week during revision week which will include fitness classes in Venue 1, and tips on healthy living and revision in Venue 2.

PU: What are your hopes for our teams this year?

EG: We’re really hoping to catch Stirling in the BUCS points. Edinburgh are a much bigger institution with nearly four times as many students as us so they’ve got much more competitive teams. But we aim to get closer and closer to them in the points each year. Just recently our water polo team beat Edinburgh who won the league last year. We are getting great results from a number of different teams—basketball, lacrosse, fencing—which is very encouraging.

Pre-season this year was a huge success: we had more than 500 students and 23 clubs attend. Coming back and training earlier than other Scottish universities has given us an advantage over Scottish universities when it comes to the BUCS games.

PU: How is the sports centre redevelopment progressing?

EG: It’s been a staged process. So far we’ve had the astro and tennis courts resurfaced, and the 3G pitch has been open for a week or so. The 3G pitch is a great step forward—it means training and matches can still take place in bad weather.

The next stage will be constructing a new eight-court building attached to the sports centre, and hopefully indoor tennis courts too. The sports centre building itself will also be renovated eventually.

There is room for a swimming pool, if funding for it is secured. It is something that we definitely want. Redevelopment does not specifically fall under my remit. It is a University project and its funding comes from the University.

PU: What can we look forward to next semester?

EG: We have lots of exciting 600th anniversary events planned, such as the Your600th Challenge, in collaboration with the Your600th Campaign. Participants can do 600 of whatever they want to do over the year, such as run 600km, or walk 600 miles. In March we’re launching a Wellbeing Week which will culminate in a world record Strip the Willow (a kind of ceilidh) attempt, and we hope to encourage locals to join in. We are currently getting permission to close the road for it.

We’re re-launching the Hall of Fame in April. In the past, those that have been inducted haven’t necessarily been tied into the University that much. Now they have to have been a matriculated student or a member of staff.

I’m also looking to introduce a concept called “Friends of Saints Sport”, whereby clubs will gain some financial backing from alumni. I’d like to create an alumni community, where former students can donate to their former sports club.


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