Outgoing Student Trustee, John Doran, gives an insight into his experiences of being on the RGU:Union Trustee Board
The Trustee Board is a relatively new addition to the structure of RGU:Union but it quickly became a very, very important one. Trustee boards exist to oversee two particular areas of an organisation: their activities and their financial status. I’ve been a part of that process for the past two years and now that my post is up for re-election (and I’m not standing again) I wanted to take this chance to explain just how important good trustees are to RGU:Union and the type of candidate that would be great to replace me!
The Trustee Board is composed of external trustees, Union staff members, RGU staff and most importantly, trustees that are drawn from the student body - the group that the organisation exists to serve. The Board oversees the £400,00 budget of RGU:Union and carries the legal responsibility for how that budget is implemented, or any other activities that it undertakes. It is very often consulted on the ways that the Executive Committee or the Union’s staff could work to improve the performance of the institution and under the current pressure in higher education, this particular function is incredibly important. I wanted to list a few of the qualities that are key for a good student trustee to have and hopefully you’ll see some of these in yourself and consider running for my old post:
1) Be enthusiastic about improving the Union
Although the Board does not meet very often, when it does you will be asked to trudge through a swamp of paperwork covering the accounts, feedback, new projects… the lot. Being enthusiastic about the state of RGU and wanting to make progress on campus will help you get through all of this paperwork.
2) Be unafraid to ask questions and to state your opinions very clearly
Having a good knowledge of a particular area of the Union’s work will be really beneficial to you, if you’ve been involved with a society or if you just happen to understand accounts very well then you’ll likely make for a good trustee. However, you’re never going to understand everything that’s being discussed and not being afraid to raise your hand at that point will make you a great addition to the Board.
3) Understanding the distinction between the University and the Union
The Union is fantastically good at identifying opportunities to work alongside the University, however (in my opinion) it has so far struggled to work in opposition to the university where it ought to. Being enthusiastic about expanding the Union’s resources and about getting a good deal from the University should be the belief of any student but should definitely be important to a Student Trustee.
4) Be the type to show up
As with all things, 90% of the hard work is done once you actually show up. Come along to the meetings, show up at the AGM (and ask questions) and take every opportunity you can to speak with the Union and help build it up during your two-year tenure.
Being a Trustee is a very rewarding job, one that takes up very little of your time and gives you a great opportunity to help influence the work of RGU:Union. It makes for a great addition to your CV and helps to give you a first-hand understanding of how organisations (like the one you’ll likely go to work for) operate on a daily level, as well as on a larger sale.
Best of luck to all of the candidates this year for all of the vacant posts!
More information on the By-Elections can be found at www.rguunion.co.uk/elections