An indicative ballot has begun over planned cuts to academic staff at the University of Birmingham.Written by Sabrina Dougall on 26th June 2015
The sabbatical year – Tim Smith (VP Sport)
This week Redbrick interviewed all of the outgoing sabbatical officers as their tenures draw to a close, focussing on whether they achieved their initial manifesto policies
This week Redbrick interviewed all of the outgoing sabbatical officers as their tenures draw to a close, focussing on whether they achieved their initial manifesto policies. The seven officers, who were elected by the student body in March last year, have all taken a year out to work at the Guild full time as part of the wider team of Guild officers. This is made up of 18 officers in total, the seven sabbatical officers and a further eleven officers who work in various other non-sabbatical roles.
The VPS represents student interests in sport and helps to lead University sport clubs and societies. They also maintain equal opportunities and improve the quality of University sports.
What has been your biggest achievement as a Sabb?
'Probably the introduction of the January Sports Fair. Some people took a lot of convincing in order to hold the event, but people voted with their feet and attended in numbers! Many clubs added or enhanced ‘participation pathways’ within their club, and we had lots of sign-ups which was good to see.'
If you had your time again what would you do differently as a Sabb?
'I would dedicate more of my time to a ‘Healthy Eating’ campaign – this is part of my remit which I have not done as much on as I would have hoped this year. As in any role, you can look back over the year and see improvements to be made in each area, but what is for sure is that having worked long days and countless weekends, I couldn’t have done more!'
Would you recommend being a Sabb to others?
'I would definitely recommend my position as VPS. To work every day with a sporting agenda, whether it be leading the clubs or ensuring there is student consultation on the new sports centre, is a real pleasure to do. Like any role, there are some less enjoyable parts but to represent our students and our sports clubs as the VPS is a real priceless experience.'
What have you most enjoyed about the role?
'I have enjoyed most getting out and about on Wednesdays and weekends and supporting our sports clubs. I have managed to get to most clubs this year, and my apologies that I haven’t got round to all. Equally pleasing is seeing clubs grow and develop – being at Dodgeball society’s first ever session where they had over 200 people attend in September was amazing! I have also particularly enjoyed holding Sports Forums and Mini-Forums – we changed around the structure this year and it has been a real success with brilliant engagement.'
Have internal divisions been detrimental to the sabb team this year?
'I believe 6 of the 7 team members have worked well together, and achieved a lot this year. The apparent divide is not ideal, but the rest of us have knuckled down and done our best for our constituents.'
Have the Better Guild Forums been conducive or detrimental to Guild politics?
Whilst sometimes the forums do bring up important issues, many real student issues are missed and the atmosphere of the forum puts many people off contributing. I believe an online alternative should be sought.
What does the future hold for you after university?
I’m off travelling, and holding off the real world just that little bit longer!
Did you achieve a 'better promotion of matches' and how did you do it?
'The main aspect of this manifesto point was to hold more big sporting events for students to come down and enjoy, like Xplosion. Despite pressing for this, for a variety of reasons this wasn’t viable this year, however through the year I have been working with UBSport staff and club committee members to refine the Big Events scheme for next year. Clubs will be able to apply to hold a Big Event, and the best 6 of these will also be live streamed on the internet thanks to UniSport Online, which will give further coverage.' In general, promotion of matches has got better through social media and better inter-club relationships, but there is still a long way to go in this area.'
Did you achieve 'tournaments held for students, raising money for charity' and how did you do it?
'Yes, although only one tournament – not as many as I would have hoped at the start of the year. The work was by no means done alone I worked with the Dodgeball Society and Carnival RAG to host a Dodgeball tournament at the Munrow in autumn. We had 20 teams (120 students) participate and raised over £500 for charity. The blueprint is now there for this to be a recurring event. Unfortunately plans for further tournaments didn’t quite hit off, but I have been supporting the RAs in the organising of their Summer Sports Festival for post-exams.'