Final Words from the President
In true student fashion I’ve spent quite a long time staring at a blank page; a blinking cursor taunting me as an empty mind produces no good ideas. I will admit though, unlike my student days, I’ve given myself more time to complete this, my final Lookout piece. But still, walking down the street, taking a shower, doing the washingup, nothing has sprung to mind on what exactly deserves to follow these words.
So I went back and had a look at the dozen or so previous articles I’ve written for this fine student magazine. It was good reminiscing but it’s always slightly odd reading your own words; wondering why exactly I tried so desperately hard to cram as many terrible puns into 500 words as I could. Equally it was interesting to see the different tactics I took, early on I attempted to summarise the work of a President and the Students’ Union (maybe for my own benefit?), other times I spent time talking about the progress we were making on key issues, and in some very pleasing pieces I talked about the successes. And then every so often I just meandered for reasons currently unknown to me, I was probably just really hungover when I wrote those ones. I guess it would be traditional for an outgoing piece like this to be more of a summary, so let’s give that a try
However, there is one final thing to say. From the 1st of July the Students’ Union at the University of Greenwich will have a new President, its first in two years. I’m proud and pleased to say that my successor will be Harry, the current Vice President Student Activities (Fun Sabb as we call him). I first met Harry at some point during his first year whilst playing some hockey, looking fresh faced and innocent as the freshers always do. Nobody would have known that years later we’d be working together and that he would be taking the reigns once I moved over. Harry is both talented at his job and extremely capable, I have no concerns about what is going to come next and I’m excited to look on from a distance and watch the next steps develop. I wish the best of luck to the incoming team; and encourage them to remember the reasons why they ran for election in the first place.
The original values and passion for why we run are not always easy to remember but they should be treasured.
And for you, lovely reader and student – it’s been an honour and a pleasure to serve as your President. I sincerely hope that whether you’ve been at Greenwich for years or just months that the Union has influenced your life in some positive way. I wish you all the best for the future, and look forward to seeing many of you around in the years to come.
Over the years I’ve had the ultimate pleasure of being able to attend dozens of events run by students, and to watch shy, quiet, and undeveloped first years blossom into passionate, organised, and developed people. It truly is heart warming to see events run by students that are successful and are enjoyed by other people. It wouldn’t be fair to pick out one specific event, but whether it was a guest speaker or a party of some type, or even a game show they’ve all been incredible in their own way.
Every so often a week comes along that is the week from hell. Consisting of very early mornings and very late nights, often slaving away over papers, sitting in meetings, and attending student run events they can physically and mentally drain even the most driven person. In a strangely sadistic way I thoroughly enjoy a busy week, a sense of achievement at the end, but if it consists of a 6am start and a 2am finish every day (I’m looking at you freshers) then I’m going to be a grumpy man!
This one is close to my heart and therefore easily tops the list. Last year it was voted on by Council that the University should work towards the implementation of Gender Neutral Toilets in all of the buildings across all the campuses. This is a bigger job than anyone would imagine, so it’s still a work in progress. But that’s not the point. To a huge majority of our students, they don’t give a second thought to visiting the toilet. Amongst our student population are students who do not define as male or female, society refers to these people as trans but in reality it’s not that simple either. What is simple is understanding that some people don’t comfortably define into the strange binary gender setup we have in this world, and for that reason a simple task like having to choose a toilet can be uncomfortable. Gender Neutral Toilets create an environment where everyone feels welcome, no matter how they define. And that for me is truly a very important part of a Students’ Union’s work.
NOT SO BIG SUCCESS
There are a lot of these. Before I started my role I was chatting to some second year Presidents from other Unions and one of them said that the guaranteed thing to happen is for you to make mistakes. I didn’t put much merit behind this but it’s true. The wrong judgement call, a lack of attention on specific issues, a simple bad day can have a real impact. But in reality the thing I look back on and feel the most down about is the lack the Union does for many groups of students. The work we do for disabled students, students of faith, students who define as LGBT, students who are carers or have come from a caring background, and so many more do not get the attention or help they deserve. I have no doubt that the tide will turn on this in the future.