Friday 20 September 2013
What’s your name and role in the SU?
My name is Sarah Sarwar, and I am the President for the Students Union
What did you used to study at QM?
I studied History and Politics at QM
What’s your favourite memory from studying at QM?
At the time I probably hated life, but looking back some of my best memories are from the final weeks leading up to my dissertation deadline. I spent most of my time in various libraries and archives and I felt like a ‘proper’ historian. It was one of the most trying times of my academic career but easily also one of the most rewarding.
You’ve only just started in the role, but do you have any plans for what you’d like to do after you finish in the post?
I’ve got a place on Teach First ready for next September, and I’d like to do a Masters in Educational Policy. But I want to do a million different things, so I never like to say I have really fixed plans.
Why did you decide to run for the SU Sabbatical Officer role?
I’d never really been involved in student politics before, but I was a notorious whinger. The opening of nominations brought all sorts of issues to the forefront of my mind and I felt like I might be able to offer something a little bit different and new, so I decided to go for it in the very last minute!
What is your role and what does your role entail? How long will you be in the post for?
As President, I oversee the strategic development of the union. My role exists to act as a student voice representation on various bodies and boards at college level. Its my job to make sure that all students are given a platform through which they can develop themselves and their skills and get the most out of their student experience.
What part of your role are you most looking forward to getting your teeth into?
As a student I complained a lot about accessibility to the union and society development. It will be really interesting to see things from the other side and look at how we can best reach students that might not engage with the union as much.
What about the more challenging areas?
Tackling student engagement is going to be one of the most challenging aspects of this job, because it’s so hard to measure and there is continuous scope for growth. The real challenge will be assessing how we can channel our efforts to have the most tangible and effective outcomes with respect to engaging with previously slightly disenfranchised groups.
What campaigns will you be working on over the coming year?
One of the biggest projects this year will be the unions on-going commitment towards community development and cohesion. We’re planning really exciting community events and programmes throughout the year to make sure students are able to bridge the gap between the campuses and the local community. We’re also hoping to host a large community fete at the end of the year to celebrate the relationship that Queen Mary enjoys with its local community.
Why is the SU important? What does it do?
The SU is vital to the development and protection of student interests. It exists to represent students on issues and give them a voice in the way their educational institution is run. It is the SU’s job to make sure that students get the most from their time at QM, whether its skills development, recreational or personal assistance. The SU essentially takes care of student needs in order for them to enjoy a fulfilled and enriching university experience.
What is your favourite part about the SU?
My favourite part of the SU is probably going to be our huge community of societies, (though I’m biased being an ex society president myself). Societies really display the huge variety of students we have on campus and really display the vast array of things that an SU can do for you during your time at university. Societies were where I made some of my best friends and it’s where I really felt like I was part of a wider Queen Mary community.
How can students get involved in the SU? Do you need to be in your first year to make the most of it?
All students are automatically given union membership upon enrolment, and that means they can get involved in every single aspect of union life. Whether is participation in a project like ‘Mums and Dads’, joining a society, doing a sport, volunteering, student media or even just attending some of the great nights at Drapers or The Griffin; there is no end the various opportunities on offer. You can find out more at www.qmsu.org or always just drop by the SU Hub and ask what’s going on!
For new students – and students coming back for their next year – what would be the number one thing you recommend they do in the first few weeks of term?
New students MUST all buy a fresher’s pass and go to the fresher’s fair. It’s where you first come across the best things the union can offer you.
Returning students, I’d really encourage you to have a look on the website and get involved with some of the new projects we’re starting up this year. Union projects aren’t just a lot of fun but also a really great way to develop your skill set and boosts employability.
Find more about Queen Mary Students' Union: www.qmsu.org