New vice-president for activities turns his three wishes into clear demands

“Basically I was the genie and the idea was to give the members or a club three wishes or three priorities of what they wanted to have and I would try and help them out by doing this,” Zacharia says.

He knows that for this plan to work, the societies need to be realistic: “If the skiing society asks for a trip to Canada, it’s not going to be as easy as that.” He does, however, know how much the students need him to be  easily contactable and feels he will be more accessible than previous vice-presidents have been.


Andreas Zacharia giving his victory speech in March’s SU elections. Photo: Sam Cox

“We’ve just set up a new system in the SU where the doors are going to be open on Tuesday 2-4pm and Thursday 10-12pm, where my office is completely open and people can come in and we can find out exactly what they want to do, without booking a meeting.

“I can’t see students coming to me and giving me a list of three wishes, I don’t think that’s going to happen, but knowing exactly what they want because I’ll have spoken to them is going to be a way of combating the three wishes thing,” he says.

The new VP for activities firmly believes accountability is something that needs improving. This is something his predecessor Chris Farrell didn’t do particularly well, with the last meeting he attended being way back in December 2009.

Zacharia is addressing this issue: “I think myself coming in now, it’s a lot about the communication strictly between the students and the SU. There was a lot of times where I was doing my campaign and everything, and I was telling the students what job I was going for and there were people that didn’t even know who the current vice-president was.

“The main plan for me is get out there and talk to a lot more students and find out what exactly they want…a lot more communication, that’s the main aim.”

As well as playing rugby for Cyprus, Andreas was the president of the rugby society last year. Something he feels needs to change under his reign is that he’s going to be visible on the sidelines watching the many Wednesday afternoon fixtures.

The 21-year-old said: “I’m a completely different personality to Chris [Farrell], to be honest with you, obviously he did things his way. I do intend on rotating my time so every Wednesday I’ll be at a football game, then a hockey game, making sure I’m going to different societies and checking them out.

“Getting myself to their meetings and letting them know who I am so they can tell me exactly what they want. And, also so I know what’s going on in their university lives.”

The one problem any president or vice-president in the SU is always going to face is the amount of time they have in office. Achievable goals need to be set and then monitored over the course of both semesters. Anyone who believes in anything more long-term may need to consider their role within the SU.

Andreas certainly doesn’t fall into this category and knows if his stay is to be an efficient one, he needs to concentrate on short-term solutions.
“One thing I’ve always said to myself is that I want to do things that are going to happen, here and now, I don’t want to be one of those guys who comes in and says ‘my plan is going to be five years long’.

“I’ve got plans like the pep rally and Varsity for this year, they are going to be big parts of my year in office.

“I want to concentrate on things that are going to happen now so students can see that things have happened so when they look back over the year and say ‘what’s he done?’ They’re then things there to kind of prove what I’ve done.

“There’s been guys in the past who’ve come out with nothing really that’s happened and you’ve asked them ‘why’? Then they reply ‘because the university’s not really in the situation where they can put my plans forward’ – well that doesn’t really help us now does it,” a practical Zacharia says.

The cuts to university funding are something that the new VP for activities knows will undoubtedly affect his budget. Yet he does stress that societies need protecting, so his aim is to get the message out to students, particularly freshers, to attend events such as pep rallies, Varsity, and awards ceremonies.

Zacharia knows how frustrating it can be as a part of a society or club, when the clear focus is lost because enough effort isn’t being put in to give the students what they want or need.

He said: “One issue we had last year was that there was money there in a pot as a development fund for guys to use, and to come forward at council meetings and say ‘we want to do this, is it ok? Can we have the money to do it?’

“That money was there and not being used, so one thing I’ll tend to do in these council meetings is to push it and say ‘listen guys there’s money there, if you want to use it, if you want to go to a tournament, you want to get something for your club put it forward to the council and we can make it work’.

“There is money to use even though there are cuts happening, but we’re not broke. There is stuff to be used and we can’t let it go to waste and having it go to places where it shouldn’t have been.”

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