Caroline Christie is the sole candidate running for Director of Student Development and Activities (DoSDA) this year.
As Festival Director of On the Rocks, Ms Christie has valuable management skills and experience which arguably set her in good stead for the position. Her policies show good knowledge of Union affairs and the responsibilities of the DoSDA.
Ms Christie’s manifesto highlights three main priorities: heightening inclusivity; ensuring students enjoy their extra-curricular activities and offering rewards for their commitment to them. Her individual promises are explored in more depth below.
The candidate promises to aid in the integration of the new Associations Councils’ postgraduate members; make herself available to Union users; become more involved in society access to Union space (and other University venues); ensure funding is maintained for student activities; and hold mid-semester optional society fayres “for those who could not, or did not want to, get involved early on”.
Ms Christie’s pledges to support new postgraduate members and to make herself available to Union users show a commitment to being open and accessible which, though unoriginal, is praiseworthy. Despite this, Ms Christie does not go into detail about how she will effect these changes.
Likewise, it is not explained how her involvement will improve society access to and use of University buildings, though this shows a recognition that advising and coordinating the booking of venues could be a helpful and important part of her role.
With regard to maintaining funds for student activities, this is possibly not within the remit of a DoSDA. Moreover, her promise to “advocate for what we do with our vital funding” is notably without any description of what changes she would advocate.
That said, her promise to hold optional mid-semester society fayres is a good idea and one which could potentially cause a second influx of members, helping with society funding and allowing people to join new societies if their first choices do not work out.
Ms Christie pledges to improve Union rules “to allow societies to flourish”; adapt society training to the needs of different types of societies; host Drop In sessions to quickly resolve small problems; increase funding to smaller societies through the Student Activities Fund; and create a forum which would allow similar societies to share ideas and collaborate.
It is not explained what changes to the Union’s framework Ms Christie believes would allow societies to flourish, but encouraging creativity is a positive mind-set to have.
Furthermore, no explanation of the unique training demands of societies is offered, however this is clearly a thoughtful policy which could improve the running of societies if well implemented. If successful in her candidacy, Ms Christie would do well to involve societies in the design of new training.
Her pledge to host Drop In sessions again shows her stated commitment to increase availability. Perhaps however she has not fully realised the time-consuming nature of these pledges.
Promising expansion of the Student Activities Fund would either mean taking money from larger, more popular societies (which have arguably earned their use of funds and will provide benefit to the most people) or increasing the available funds, which again may be outside the remit of DoSDA to promise.
Nonetheless, encouraging collaboration between similar societies is an innovative policy that may enrich the student experience, formalising something which already happens informally between some societies and providing a platform for further cooperation.
Ms Christie promises to oversee the expansion of the volunteer portal to allow students’ volunteering time to be officially recorded; and encourage the Careers Centre to provide help and guidance for students looking for non-traditional graduate careers.
It should be noted that the expansion of the volunteer portal was already planned to go ahead and was an achievement of the incumbent DoSDA, Kyle Blain. However, Ms Christie’s awareness of ongoing projects within the Union shows commitment to the role and Union affairs. Meanwhile, the proposed plan of action concerning the Careers Centre illustrates a consideration of alternative post-university options which will be popular amongst many students who do not want to assume a typical graduate job.
The Saint’s Assessment
Despite a few rather vague policies and perhaps an overestimation of the power DoSDA has over funding, Ms Christie’s manifesto undoubtedly shows knowledge of the role and ongoing Union affairs. She provides some innovative policies that may well improve student societies and, if achievable, her commitment to be extremely accessible can only benefit the student body.