For the past three months, the Students’ Association president Chloe Hill and her sabbatical team have been working behind the scenes to ensure that Freshers’ Week – and indeed the entire academic year – run perfectly smoothly. From the very early stages of requesting an interview I quickly realised that Chloe Hill is extremely busy; whether it is attending meetings with the University Court and Residential and Business Services or meeting with the Students’ Representative Council, it seems as though Chloe always has somewhere important to be.
[pullquote][My role] is largely in being a diplomatic voice and putting across student views. [/pullquote]
We were able to squeeze our interview into a 30-minute window during her office hours on Sunday, before the mayhem that is Freshers’ Week had fully begun, which was scheduled to occupy the vast majority of Chloe’s time for the week ahead.
To set the stage, the previous president in his article in this issue referred to the twelve months he was in charge as “the most challenging and rewarding as any I’ve yet encountered.” The president’s work begins immediately from the night they are elected. They begin looking at the feasibility of their plans and examining how they are going to spend their summer in order to make sure that their election promises can become realities.
Chloe Hill spent her summer in a very quiet St Andrews dividing her time between a full schedule of meetings and planning for budgeting, events and future discussions. One of her first orders of business in her new role was to understand the massive, intricate system that is the University’s administration and the Students’ Association. This system includes hundreds of committees that Chloe will be working with throughout the year.
This summer her team completed the all important orientation guide, freshers’ book and other welcome books, for which I know first-years will be eternally grateful, in addition to a full budget for the year.
As far as her major plans go, she is well on her way to having many of them in place – or at least the foundation in place – by the end of her presidency. Her three major policies were to set up a Scottish sabbaticals forum, fix fees for international students and charge rest-of-UK students three years’ tuition for four years of attendance, and, lastly, to establish a Union-run letting agency.
For the sabbaticals forum, Chloe has already spoken with sabbs from universities throughout Scotland and many are enthusiastic about such a forum. The only challenge for her has been to get in touch with all of the sabbs she would like to incorporate into the forum. Many of them meet regularly within the National Union of Students meetings, but Chloe’s forum would not be for all of the UK, just for Scotland.
Her plan to fix international students’ fees is nearly be in place as she has met repeatedly with the administration and, in particular, the Planning and Resources Committee, known as PARC. Her ‘four for three’ plan has been put on hold as she tries first to work with the administration on issues where they share more common ground.
Lastly, her Union-run letting agency is still in the planning stages, but going well thus far and The Saint will be able to provide you with more coverage over the next few months as more details are released.
As many students have been asking, the redevelopment of the Union is well underway and the first phase is expected to be complete in spring 2014 with the glass exterior, a new café, BESS shop and bookstore. The renovations will include a complete rebranding of the Union and shops with a new logo and design. The main Union bar will be closed from January through May 2014; however, the beer bar in Venue 1 will then become the ‘main’ bar during this period of the renovation. The final result will include two bars: a main Union bar and a sports bar. The University has pledged £11 million to the Union redevelopment while the Students’ Association has raised £1.75 million.
As part of my interview with Chloe, I asked her to reflect on the importance of her presidency both as being president during the end of the 600th anniversary celebrations, but also because, as few students may know, she is the first female president of the Students’ Association in 13 years and, as she pointed out, only the fourth in 50 years.
She was particularly excited about seeing Secretary Clinton speak last Friday and remarked when asked about who she was looking forward to speak most, “Hillary Clinton is an obvious, basically the most powerful woman in the world, I can’t think of anyone cooler to meet at the moment.” She continued saying that many of the speakers are “feminist academics, it’s women that are the best at what they do, so it’s going to be really good and the principal has been working really hard to make sure that that is a big part of it because it’s a lot of what she’s been doing since she’s been here.”
She concluded her reflection on being one of a very few female presidents by saying, “That’s mad, I don’t want to just rant on about women all year, but on the other hand, I’ve kind of been given the soap box and if we wait another 13 years and have another few presidents, I want to shout it a bit, in a good way, but it’s the fiftieth anniversary this year of the male and female unions joining to make the association.” She continued, “We have more female to male students at university, but for some reason we still always have male elected representatives and presidents. We have a very small number of female professors compared to males. You know, the first female professor here in St Andrews was only here in 1992. How mad is that?”
We finished the interview by discussing how she will keep in touch with students. She has created her own Facebook account ‘Chloe Hill Pres’, regularly checks her email email@example.com and, as much as she despises Twitter, tweets @StAPresident.
Photo: Sammi McKee