Emily Griffiths, who will depart her role as AU President over the summer, will probably look back at the interview she gave to The Saint almost exactly a year ago and feel it seems like a lifetime ago. She was successfully elected on three main policies: accessibility, inclusivity and development. Let’s assess how she has succeeded on achieving these goals.
Griffiths had originally looked to open one hour drop-in sessions for all AU clubs every day. However, when she got into office, she quickly realised that this was unrealistic for her to achieve. “I’ve got so many projects going on at once; there almost isn’t enough time in the day.” The drop-in sessions never transpired, but Griffiths did set up volunteering drop-in sessions, which, along with her experiences working with Project Zambia, allowed her and her colleagues to offer their expertise to clubs on volunteering within and without the community, as well as focussing their charity work.
When it comes to representational elections, inclusivity is of course a key word, as it allows a candidate to include his / her entire electorate. Griffiths defined her promises within inclusivity as improving opportunities offered to students, such as the gym experience, and making headway with plans for a pool. However, once again, the post did not allow Griffiths to implement the changes she had hoped to. It transpired, as revealed during an interview on STAR with Alexander Jones, that the gym experience was not actually under the remit of the AU President – something of which Griffiths was not aware while campaigning. As for pool developments, in an interview earlier this semester Griffiths outlined the plans for the redevelopment of the ageing Sports Centre, which included the moving of the recently renovated Astroturf to make space for another sports hall and also a swimming pool. The work is of course all dependent on funding from the University, but Griffiths assured me that the money would be released in stages and that this long-term project had certainly been furthered during her time in office.
Griffiths wanted to improve links with universities in the UK and abroad, and increase corporate sponsorship and club fundraising. This has probably been her strongest area. Anyone who has stumbled into the Union on a Wednesday night will know that the money raised by Sinners Sport has gone to some very worthy causes; along with the biggest ever Sinners being held in Semester 1, club fundraising events have been even more successful than in previous years, and you can hardly move in the Sports Centre without seeing evidence of the improved corporate sponsorship. As for links with other universities, the AU have a dedicated fundraiser in the United States who is working on funding for the redevelopment, and Griffiths’ networking skills have been utilised to their fullest extent, with a trip to Durham to work on Project Zambia providing in some very useful case studies for the now-famous AU Exec changes, to name just one example.
The Saint’s assessment
In recent months, Griffiths will certainly be remembered for her role in revolutionising the AU Executive Committee. Her appearance before the SRC is probably the closest she will ever come to facing a Select Committee in Westminster; she dealt with questions for two hours with admirable gusto, never once erring from her avowed course. It would be unfair though to reduce her time as President to one policy. Of the three above, the first two were quite clearly nullified almost instantly, while the third she has fulfilled beyond her original hopes. With her campaign policies as a marker’s card, she has failed the student body in the promises she made; however, she has fulfilled many promises which she might have made, had she had her time again.