Receiving an email last week asking me to write a letter reflecting on my time as Athletic Union president last week felt very odd, with my immediate reaction being “but I’ve only just started?”
There is no doubt that this has been the most challenging and at times frustrating year of my life, but it has also been the most rewarding. As a true sabbatical, taking a year out in the middle of my degree, I will return to my last year of studies with a hugely improved understanding of the University we are all a part of, as well as the wider world of work.
Right from elections, running the “Ready, Steady, Peddie” campaign, I knew this was going to be a very enjoyable year. I have had the pleasure of being a part of an exceptional Sabbatical team, without whom this year would have been very tough. Having never been a part of any elections campaign before my own, I was slightly apprehensive over the challenge of running a campaign, but thanks to my amazing campaign team, coupled with the fact that all candidates are going through the same thing, meant that the week was, although undoubtedly extremely tiring, nothing to be scared of.
When presidents from other universities ask my why we have such high physical activity participation (70 per cent — the highest in Scotland), my general response is “well, there’s nothing else to do in St Andrews,” which always gets a laugh.
A special mention must go to my Executive Committee, who have been extraordinarily dedicated to their roles and the Athletic Union. As I write this I am on a bus on my way back from Sheffield, we have been down at BUCS Nationals, along with 2 of the Exec, who have worked tirelessly all weekend to ensure that all our athletes attending have the most enjoyable and successful time possible. Some of our athletes came away with medals, and even more coming in near the top of the leader boards across the weekend. There is no doubt that all of those who attended have had an extremely enjoyable, and some have had the marvellous opportunity of competing side by side with Olympians.
That leads on to why I believe that this has been such an amazing year. It is truly spectacular the ability our tiny little university from the Auld Grey Toon has to punch above its weight on the national sporting scene. Whether it be our sole pole vaulter finishing above Loughborough this weekend, Ultimate winning the BUCS Championship (making them the best uni team in the whole UK) or – and this is where I may be accused of being biased – our Rugby 1st XV beating Edinburgh for the 4th time in a row, wherever you look our teams are always punching prospering at a level where they would not be expected to. We are 5 times smaller than Edinburgh, unable to offer any help with tuition fees like Loughborough, or offer Sports degrees like so many of the top sporting unis, yet time and time again we deliver at the top level.
When presidents from other universities ask my why we have such high physical activity participation (70 per cent — the highest in Scotland), my general response is “well, there’s nothing else to do in St Andrews,” which always gets a laugh, but the reason our clubs and societies are so successful is because we are a “bubble” and everyone gets involved in something in their time here. This has undoubtedly made my experience so worthwhile, knowing that the improvements I make will improve 70 per cent of students’ experiences while they are here.
For those unsure about whether the position is for them, I would really recommend coming and having a chat with me so I can explain my answer to that question I have been asked time and time again this year: “what do you actually do?” In truth, there is so many things that you have the pleasure of dealing with, that I could either take this entire space to write everything that I have done, or just explain that if it involves sport at St Andrews, you will be involved, whether it be the permanent staff consulting with you to get your thoughts, or shaping the direction of the Athletic Union and driving it forward.
There is no doubt that by running for the role of AU president, you are opening a door towards an extremely exciting, thought provoking and valuable experience, and you will spend a year representing some of the most energetic, hard working and talented students that St Andrews has to offer.