What does a faculty rep actually do?
This year I have been the UG Faculty Rep for Physics and Formal Sciences (which is a super catchy title!) and it’s been so interesting and rewarding. However, when I mention it to people, I am often met with a blank stare and a question of ? If you’re not quite sure either, this blog is for you!
There are 7 execs within the SU; Education, Sports, Societies, Democracy, Development, Welfare and Postgraduate. Students run for positions on these execs and if successfully voted in are able to get involved with decision making within the Students Union. They can decide on particular areas to focus on, what campaigns to run and also vote on motions for progression to Student Council.
Faculty reps automatically become a member of the Education Exec. At the start of the year, we decided what our priorities would be and have since been working towards them. We also get sent issues to discuss and debate and motions to approve. It’s a really great way to get insight into how the SU works.
These are the big ones! Faculty reps (UG and PG) are invited to go to the Faculty Board meetings. Academic staff from all the departments from a Faculty sit on these as well, so in the case of Science are really large! At these meetings, there is an agenda of items for discussion, as well as time to debate other issues which have been raised. Sometimes other members of staff are invited to present to the Board to give more detail into an agenda point. Although at times a little dry, I found it fascinating to get a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse into the university, and most importantly act as the voice of students on issues that directly affect us!
Part of the role as Faculty rep is to keep in touch with students in order to stay abreast of current issues. The best way I found of doing this is attending departmental SSLCs (Student Staff Liaison Committees). There are often representatives from different years and courses, so the issues raised are fairly representative. Many issues can be dealt with by the SSLC – the ones I have attended have been extremely efficient and well run! – but it’s always good to be there in case an ongoing issue needs the help of the SU.
Faculty reps also get invited to sit on other meetings alongside the big ones I have already discussed. Last term, I sat on the IATL (Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning) module approval committee. We discussed proposals for IATL modules, which are often interdisciplinary, interactive and involve non-standard assessment methods. It was great to be able to add my input into the modules and help decide which ones would run next year.
To make a real change, faculty reps (and other students) can write motions which progress through various committees. If passed, they get implemented within the university. It can be a long process, but ultimately rewarding if your idea helps to make a difference for future students. I am currently involved with passing a motion to improve signposting to support within modules. This means I have had a little experience of how to get things done with an academic structure. It’s a tad convoluted, but I hope that some change can be executed!
If you are thinking of getting involved in student democracy in any way, whether that is running to be a course rep, faculty rep or part-time officer, I would definitely recommend it! It’s an amazing way to learn more about the university and push yourself to develop some great communication, negotiation and critical thinking skills.
Please comment below if you have any other questions about being a faculty rep.