Daniel Hutchinson, the Students’ Union President, is almost out of time. As the academic year draws to a close, so does his term as the man in charge.
When elected as a part-time officer in October 2007, Mr Hutchinson said he’d “have a damn good try” at changing things. That was 19 months ago, and it’s been over 10 since he became the Union’s President. The Linc had a look to see if he’s succeeded in his efforts.
Speaking of the President’s job, he says: “You never quite know what you’re letting yourself in for… you come to understand how wide the role of the president is. There’s a lot of things I wish I’d done.”
Mr Hutchinson made four pledges in his manifesto last year: to improve the university’s shop, to keep the library open 24 hours, to create an accommodation ‘league table’, and to increase SU control over the Engine Shed and Tower Bar.
He says: “12 months is a short period to do that. There’s a lot more I could have done. Most of the work I have been doing I wouldn’t have even thought about before the elections.
“There’s so much you have to do in the role of president as a matter of course.” Mr Hutchinson also blamed external constraints for preventing him from making good on his pledges. Even so, it seems he hasn’t managed to make any significant progress on these issues.
Pledge #1: Improving the shop
Improving the university’s shop, currently on the ground floor of the library, was at the top of the list. Yet it’s still in the same place, and its stock hasn’t particularly changed.
A lack of space across the university is to blame, says Mr Hutchinson: “There’s no flexibility to move the shop, either to make it bigger or to increase [the range of products].”
The only thing that can be done, he says, is “to keep it [on] the university’s agenda” when they’re considering developments on the Brayford campus. Café Resource, he says, shows how some things previously offered by the shop can be brought back.
Pledge #2: A 24 hour library
This is something where Mr Hutchinson can claim a small victory, as the library was opened for 24 hours for a short period to compensate for noise from nearby building work. He says: “The Union persuaded the university to make the 24 hours extend over a greater period.”
He says the “trials made a point” that students would use it, and that a similar number of students were using it early in the morning as in the late evening.
The problem is the amount of money given to the library in the university’s budget, he claims.
Pledge #3: Accommodation ‘league table’
Mr Hutchinson simply says he hasn’t been able to do this during his term, and then moved quickly on to say the NUS is going to focus on accommodation at a national level.
“I wasn’t stopped by anything, but like so many things there’s so [much] to do on top of want you want to do,” he says, “If I did my time again, it’s perhaps something I wouldn’t have promised.”
“That’s something I don’t like, [as it was] something I did want to do.”
Pledge #4: Increase SU control over the Engine Shed & Tower Bar
“At the moment [they’re] totally controlled by the university,” he says. According to Mr Hutchinson, discussions are taking place between the university and the Union to see what the two groups want out of the venue.
“It’s a long-term [thing], it may happen one day. Obviously the SU want to see it happen… last year’s [Students’ Union] team would have said the same thing.”
He then went on to note that there are “a lot of vested interests” in the Engine Shed and Tower Bar.
Daniel Hutchinson in 2008 — The shape of things to comeTweet