You've probably been hearing a lot about student rep elections recently, and yes, I’m going to join in. With just a few days left to nominate, I’m going to try and persuade some of you to run for an officer position.
At this time last year, I was starting to think seriously about running myself. I was the president of the LGBT+ society and had the best year running it. I wanted to do more to try and change the way the University treats students like me. I had struggled through my degree for various reasons, the most acute being the lack of structural support for me as I came out as transgender. I felt angry and let down by the University. I couldn’t bear the idea of other students facing similar struggles being let down as well - or maybe not having the opportunity to get here in the first place! So I ran to be the Equality, Liberation and Access Officer, won the position, and have never looked back.
The year so far hasn’t been easy. The first three months were a whirlwind of new faces, new buildings, meetings, new etiquettes, and quite frankly feeling underprepared and overwhelmed. But the job is worth all that. It’s like finally seeing the backstage the University and Students’ Union, and it is so insightful. Learning the way that both these organisations work left me empowered to make them both better for students, and that was liberating.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the country meeting other union officers, the leaders of the National Union of Students and other influential people within the student movement. I went to parliament to lobby my MP. I’m a company director and trustee of Bristol SU, and all these experiences are completely invaluable.
When I started I was worried that I wouldn’t be very good at being an officer. I was nervous to run in the election, I was scared that no one would take me seriously and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get anything done. But I had no reason to be. Every student I spoke to was nice and polite (even if they were in a rush and uninterested), everyone is genuinely interested in your thoughts and opinions and lived experiences as a student at Bristol, and I’ve already achieved more than I ever thought I would.
Becoming an officer is one of the best things I have ever done so if you’re thinking of running then my advice to you is to give it a go!