2012 – Am I ready?

Posted on April 1, 2011

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Today I find myself in an interesting lull for KUSU. The Union offices are unusually quiet, elections and varsity now having been ticked off the calendar. The calm before the storm of exam season and preparing for fresher’s week and training the new elected officers provides an enjoyable pause in which many of us are finding time to reflect.

My reflections are somewhat different to my colleagues. On Wednesday, I was very pleased to discover that I have been elected as President of KUSU for 2011/12. Whilst I share the pride that my colleagues have of the work we have completed or begun over the last 9 months, my thoughts are turning very much towards the future.

Some of you may have read my previous article, 2012 – Are We Ready. The question I asked then was, are universities ready for the changes that 2012 will bring to Higher Education. Today the question I am asking myself is are KUSU ready for 2012, am I ready to lead the way for the organisation?

Hopefully in this article I will answer the second question reasonably thoroughly, but the first is somewhat more difficult to answer.

My immediate reaction to whether KUSU is ready for 2012, is to say no, much as I did in my article regarding the university. We are as yet unfit for purpose and often operating in a manner that is irrelevant to our student body. However there is a sense of purpose and need to drive change in KUSU from both officers and staff that is refreshing and inspiring.

Changes will be needed over the next 12 months and many of those changes are already underway. The Union will be reformed within KUSU to give greater access to democracy and services. Work is already underway to bring about the creation of 3 forums designed as sounding boards for students interested in improving, the Union, the University or the community. These forums will then put policies to referendum for the membership to decide upon.

Devolution of the Union services to sites will be a key area for development. Kingston Hill is the primary site for 35% of the students at Kingston yet the only facilities offered by the Union are the bar and advice services 1 day a week. It is key that we work within the next phase of the University’s campus development plan to lobby for space to deliver equal access to services on Kingston Hill.

We also need to ensure that we develop a virtual union platform that students can access via our website. This will allow students to access facilities such as the sports and society memberships, society accounts and information on our commercial services online.

In short my vision is a simple one. It is the vision that I outlined in my manifesto and one I hope I can begin to achieve: “A Union accessible and relevant to every student”.

Rome was not built in a day. This will not be achieved over night. But it is my hope that with the help of the team, a lot can be achieved on the road to this vision. One day we may hear the future students of Kingston, standing  in the senate (or in our case a lecture theatre) orating to the masses in a lively debate before the vote is put to our electorate through the wonders of 21st century communication. Rome will not be built in a day, but maybe Rome may be built in years to come.

Chris Dingle – President Elect – Kingston University Students’ Union

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