Caroline Christie, Director of Student Development & Activities, has now nearly fulfilled her contract as a sabbatical member of the St Andrews Students’ Association. Ms Christie met with The Saint to discuss her progress over the year.
Notable success was made with discussions of student venues such as the Byre (of which she sits on the committee), the Barron, and Kinkell Byre, with Ms Christie stating that she maintained student relationships so that student could get the best value for their money. This has given students, including those at Christmas Ball, additional freedom in organising various events.
Secondly, Ms Christie stated that there were over 50 sports teams represented at the Refreshers’ Fayre, which suggests that students did receive “priority access to space within the Union so they can early promote.”
This work with the Union, Ms Christie revealed, was also reflected within the Association’s sub-committees. Ms Christie has created “forums” for varying societies within the Union, beginning with Charities. She believes that next year this will develop to include other types of societies affiliated with the Students’ Association, including debate.
Ms Christie said that the forums have given societies a chance to discuss things “specific to them” whilst also receiving a voice within the Students’ Association. This reflects her campaign promise to “create a regular, collaborative forum in which heads of similar societies can get together.”
Ms Christie appears to have delivered on her promise to “ensure that funding for student activities is maintained.” She stated that she is present on “most sub-committee meetings” and is there to be a helping hand if societies need it. This certainly appears to have been achieved, as this academic year alone 33 grant proposals passed through the societies committee.
Ms Christie said that she has worked with sub-committees and the Careers Centre to provide a multitude of available pathways for students. She argues that it is essential for the DoSDA to “create the link” and care about the futures of students and their potential careers. She stated that by working with the sub-committees, the “links [for the future] have been formed so events can be held on a semi-annual basis.”
Ms Christie admitted that some of her manifesto policies were not implemented during her year in office. Most notably, there is no move yet to introduce “optional society fayres,” which Ms Christie cited under the “Inclusive” section of her manifesto.
However, Ms Christie said that there was simply “no interest” in a second fayre, and it was extremely difficult to find a date to hold the event.
There has also been some delay in the development of a volunteer portal, but Ms Christie said that this should be released in the coming weeks after being beta-tested by one sub-committee.
Overall, Ms Christie’s sabbatical period appears to align well with her manifesto promises. Ms Christie did reveal that it was extremely challenging to “write your manifesto before you have worked in the job,” but she has objectively achieved a majority of her written goals. She ended the interview by remarking that the year had been all about “the team she’s worked with” and that “the ability to come back to an office with people who support you is key.”