We asked some previous sabbatical officers for their tips on how to win an election as well as what they do now.
Miki Vyse President 2013-2015 and now Development Manager at the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board
"Being a sabbatical at Leeds Trinity was incredible, I had a pretty unique experience as we were the first year to really utilise the new space and have a full year as a university.it wasn't easy, but it was well worth it. I was the lead student on the QAA review as well for the institution which meant we got to do some really big research into what students wanted, we put a lot of cogs in motion over the two years that I'm so proud to see are still going strong now. We made some really big waves within the university that have made some big academic changes and that was really a pleasure to work on! We got more and more people involved in the union, which meant more people ran in the elections and it meant that we could represent people better and we ratified a new constitution, officer structure and trustee board. I spent my entire time at uni being social, but it wasn't that that won me the elections, I ran against the current presidents re-run so I had to make sure I was saying something new and exciting, I spoke to any student I could and I put my posters up everywhere. I'm now a senior manager in a charity in North Leeds, I work with over 200 members of staff to deliver some incredible services to a religious community, its great fun and I wouldn't be able to do it without the things I learnt from Trinity. I also am doing a Masters and you might see my face in another election in Leeds at some point!
David Crighton Vice-President- 2004-2005 and now a Media Lecturer at Leeds Trinity University
“First of all, it's incredibly fun (if a little stressful)! Running the campaign is fun and if elected it'll be your most enjoyable and entertaining year at university- without a doubt!
Hard work at times though... keeping up to date with assignment deadlines whilst trying to conceive, plan and deliver a manifesto was pretty intensive but worth it. As I was studying media and management at the time I thought it'd be a great opportunity to put into practice some of the theory I'd learnt in management lectures from the likes of Emma Roberts, Peter Thompson and John Early. The chance to run an organisation as one of your first jobs is great for anyone but especially for students studying the likes of management, business, economics, media or marketing- it puts theory into real life from day one!
Tips... be realistic in what you can achieve (don't offer a sports facility if you can't deliver on it!), speak to the University departments who you'll need to get 'onside' if you want to put big plans into action (then mention preliminary talks to give substance to your campaign) and then get out and listen to what people have to say and encourage them to vote (preferably for you)!
If successful the job looks great on the CV, especially when starting out. It's something different to what other graduates will have achieved and demonstrates you've managed a big responsibility early in your career. Half way through my sabbatical I guest lectured with fellow sab, Mark Dolby, and all those years later I'm studying for my PhD and lecturing full time. The job throws up little opportunities like that and they're all worth taking. “
Mark Lowery President 2001-02 and now a Teacher and Writer
“Being President of the students' union was one of the best years of my life. I don't know how the job may have changed over the last 15 years, but back then it was mainly about the social side of things - organising events, balls, the trip to Amsterdam and (of course) Freshers' Week. It was also a brilliant introduction to some of the mechanics of how businesses run (although I was much better at emptying beer glasses than filling in account ledgers).
The election process was a great laugh. I guess you've just got to get your message across, press some flesh, let people see exactly who you are and why they should vote for you and try to get yourself seen as much as possible. I worked on the bar so I was able to chat to lots of people all the time. We also hung huge banners out of the halls.
Anyway - if you're thinking of having a go, do it! You'll make new friends, learn new skills and have an absolutely brilliant year.”
Peter Lawson President 1968-1969 and now retired
“I was elected in 1967/8 to be the second President of the Union following Steve Davis who set the ball rolling in 1966/7. We only had two year groups so the elections were rather low key, though I do remember having ‘hustings’ in the Lecture Theatre and a sprinkling of posters around the notice boards. The Union then was starting from scratch, organising for ourselves social events, gaining student representation on college committees, financing various societies and sports clubs, joining the NUS, etc etc. The Sixties was a time of great social change and it was good to be part of it. Our main achievement was to have 'mixed visiting' allowed.
I did not take a sabbatical year but Jim McCaul, who succeeded me, did as the job become more demanding.
I think those considering entering elections for Union office should realise that there is considerable satisfaction to be had from being chosen by one's peers to serve them in a leadership role. I have no doubt that it enhanced my CV and probably equipped me with skills and experiences that I have benefited from to this day.
I taught for a year at St Michael's College, Leeds before returning to the North East to St Cuthberts GS and then Ponteland HS, retiring as Head of Physical Education some ten years ago.”