A little under a year ago, Ben Peddie was elected Athletic Union president with the campaign slogan “Ready, Steady, Peddie.” As election season begins once again, The Saint looks back on Mr Peddie’s time in the position.
Mr Peddie has provided a steady hand for the Athletic Union this year. His tenure began with difficulties regarding the foundations of the Sports Centre, but Mr Peddie has largely remained calmness personified and ensured that his end of the day-to-day operations run smoothly.
Whilst he is quick to point out that the team around him was excellent and really helped him throughout the year, his openness and flexibility to unexpected circumstances are worthy of commendation.
Mr Peddie prioritised getting feedback on the new Sports Centre and services provided by the AU (something taken advantage of by 70 per cent of St Andrews students) in his campaign manifesto.
To fulfil this promise, Mr Peddie has created a feedback form that will be released to students in the coming weeks. This is an impressive feat and has been accompanied by plans to potentially buy iPads that would allow students to leave real-time feedback during their gym sessions.
Mr Peddie, who has previously volunteered in South Africa, hoped to introduce more volunteering opportunities for students during his time as AU president.
Two months into his tenure, the University appointed a volunteering co-ordinator who has led the way in setting up new outreach programmes and volunteering opportunities. It is important to note, however, that Mr Peddie is not directly responsible for setting up the programmes.
Large-scale events were a recurring theme of Mr Peddie’s manifesto, and there has been a strong increase in events since he took office.
Whilst the success of the varsity match is not something you can directly attribute to Mr Peddie, one of his major achievements was the Road to Murrayfield initiative. Having several of the other University sport clubs compete against Edinburgh during the day was a fantastic move, and the fact that the event ran smoothly is a huge testament to Mr Peddie’s organisational skills.
Another one of Mr Peddie’s goals was to firmly re-establish the concept of Wednesday Night Lights. He hoped to promote a BUCS fixture accompanied by live music, food, and refreshments. Whilst the first Wednesday Night Lights event was by all accounts a disappointment, Mr Peddie and his team demonstrated real adaptability, and the subsequent two WNL iterations have been considerably better. With several more WNL events in the pipeline and Alumni Weekend scheduled for April, Mr Peddie’s commitment to events cannot be faulted.
Anyone who plays sport will know that transport is a real issue. Although Mr Peddie obtained more funding from the University and was able to purchase new buses, transport has arguably become an even bigger issue for clubs this year.
Much of this can be attributed to the departure of the University’s transport co-ordinator in December, and Mr Peddie has set forward a proposal to secure some long-term funding for AU transport. However, those issues aside, his failure to really improve the transport situation must be considered a disappointment.
Other Policies and Achievements
The introduction of a smoothie bar and the creation of a new Saints Sport mascot were two of the most eye-grabbing policies in Mr Peddie’s manifesto last year. While those ideas may themselves have been non-starters, the options from the vending machines in the Sports Centre are now healthier, with less chocolate bars and fizzy drinks available.
Likewise, with regard to the mascot, one of Mr Peddie’s crowning achievements has been his close collaboration with fellow sabbatical officers. One notable outcome of this communication is the proposal to make Rory McLion the AU mascot and further integrate the Charities Campaign and the AU.
As AU president, Mr Peddie has certainly faced a number of issues that have hampered some of the goals he initally set for himself.
Transport has been Mr Peddie’s largest issue, but he has also faced some grievances regarding the continued Sports Centre renovation delays.
It is important to note, however, that Mr Peddie has achieved much of what he set out to do or has at least laid the foundations for his successor to continue improving the sporting experience of University students. For this he must be given credit and remembered as a president who genuinely tried to improve opportunities for students and served as a fine example of continuity in a role with constant turnover.