Taryn O’Connor is a candidate for the role of Director of Events and Services, and she has outlined four key policies which she hopes to implement in the event of her election.
O’Connor’s first policy is to re-vamp Freshers’ week, to create a better experience for St Andrews students. She wants to “provide more diversified acts,” such as comedy, dance shows and theatre instead of just DJ and live shows. She also promotes contacting affiliated groups ahead of time to utilise them and plan the overall timeline of Freshers more efficiently. Freshers’ is a typical starting point (current DoES Chris Macrae ran the same point in his campaign last year, though O’Connor offers a more detailed plan than her predecessor) but the reality of her goal here seems a little unlikely purely on the basis of St Andrews inaccessibility: the difficulty of getting here may be a discouraging factor for many performers. However, overall her ideas of diversifying acts and her emphasis on advanced booking and organisation seem plausible and sound.
Bigger Venues, Better Spaces
O’Connor wants to utilise more university spaces for events, such as Younger Hall and The Byre, which both have greater capacities. This would free up Union space for more student events throughout the year. It is possible that O’Connor has not considered the potential of increased ticket prices if an event is staged on university property, and perhaps even that the University might reject this proposal when concerning evening/night events on account of the risk of property damage. In this case, high attendance would be important to continue this usage, and high ticket prices for a basic event may not be seen as worth it. O’Connor also addresses Saturday nights at the Union, suggesting greater society involvement and collaboration to provide a more interesting experience, such as themed events. This seems to be a good idea: generally themed events such as Disney Bop at the Union are popular, and a wider variety of interesting themes might attract more students more regularly.
A Better Night Out
Though phrased differently, O’Connor essentially is advocating cheaper, larger drinks at the Union and affiliated bars: much like all her predecessors over the last few years. The suggestion of drink promotions (72 hour) would probably be successful, and this combined with her proposal of the usage of larger vessels such as fishbowls or pitchers to carry these drinks does appear to be popular. The willingness of the Union staff to cooperate with these proposals remains to be seen: in her manifesto O’Connor does not indicate any familiarity with the staff and this would probably be important in negotiating these deals. O’Connor supports better publicisation for student and commercial events: while not unique, this does have merit and the utilisation of the Design Team and more marketing spaces would probably improve awareness.
Support for Societies and Subcommittees
O’Connor reaches out to the societies in this policy: she emphasises the importance of building a strong relationship with societies and ensuring the availability of the Union for these societies, no matter how unconventional. This could be considered an important point for this year’s campaign: with recent developments of RockSoc’s difficulties in booking the Union for their own events, and also issues with Wiley’s performance during Refreshers Week, the usage of the Union and treatment of societies in conjunction with it has been called into question, and so it is important that the new DoES provides a reliable, trustworthy contact for those societies. O’Connor also espouses a stronger relationship with the Athletic Union outside of sports teams at Sinners. It’s unclear how exactly she would achieve this, or whether it’s even necessary: the weekly Sinners nights are always highly popular.
The Saint’s Assessment:
Overall, O’Connor presents some interesting ideas with a fresh outlook on them: the idea of drinks in different vessels and variation in venues seem innovative. Her strong stance on more efficient organisation, cooperation and a closer relationship with all societies seems positive, and encouraging considering recent problems with societies and events. However, rather than just suggesting solutions, O’Connor should also explain what she herself is bringing to the table, and demonstrate personal involvement and experience in achieving her goals.