The Linc sat down with the new University of Lincoln Students’ Union President for the next academic year, Hayley Jayne Wilkinson, for a chat about her plans, her dreams and aspirations for the Union, and what she’s most looking forward to being the President of the SU.
Before we continue, it’s important to mention that this is the second year in a row that three women have held the sabbatical roles at the Union, with Hayley herself being the first full-time female Activities Vice President last year. This bucks a national trend that says females hold only 30% of the top jobs in the workplace.
Hayley said: “A lot of it is changing now. Personally for me, before I was involved with the Union and before I came to university, I didn’t even know there was a problem until my eyes were opened. Actually looking at all the stats and the government positions, it actually is a male dominated world. When people come to Lincoln and see the Union, they’ll see three women, one of which president.”
She continued to explain how the Union are continuing to try and bridge this gap between males and females being handed the top jobs in industry.
“It’s the second year we’ve been running the Women in Leadership workshops. It’s making women aware that they can do it as well, and those who feel intimidated can come along.”
Sammi Storey is one of those women and she takes over the VP Activities role from Hayley at the start of the new academic year, which Hayley says will be difficult to let go. At the same time she says: “I’m now President (chuckling as she said it) and I know it’s in good hands. Sammi will do well.”
“There’s so much more than can be done in Activities, and I’d like to see Sammi do that and I’ll support her in that.”
They’re many students who don’t engage with what the Union do for them. The election turnout came in below half at 32%, but that’s still a record. It’s likely to go up next year. However, it still shows a disconnection with many students.
Having tried to cover the work of the Union over the past three years at the Student paper, learning to understand it’s governance, how it works, the impact it can have, but having never needed it myself, it’s hard to see what the sabbatical officers do.
They get elected for a year, then the next they are gone, unless they run again, but even then they can only stand for two years. How much change can they realistically achieve?
But having spoken to Hayley and seeing the effort all the sabbatical officers put into the job, the amount of effort required to do the job is commendable.
Hayley said: “As a sabb, our door is always open. It’s a hard role, but I love it. If it wasn’t a hard role, I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much.”
“They’re a lot of decisions that we have to make and we don’t make them likely. This is our future on the line. We’re held to account for the decisions we make and we are liable for them as well.”
“We get voted in by students. We are passionate for students. We are not against students. That’s what people need to realise. We are not there for a fight; we are there to work together. Don’t forget that I was a student and I wanted bigger and better things for my society. I was President of the Dance Society and that’s why I’m here. Not for power, but because I want to make changes for everybody and give everybody a voice.”
Hayley explained as well as that, as a Union, they are trying to get those students that are disenfranchised more and more engaged with their Union.
She said: “We are trying to reach out to students to make them understand that there is something here for them, and they can do what we do. And once they are engaged, I can see that voter turnout going up.”
The last thing I asked Hayley was about what she wanted to change as next years President. First of all, what if money was no object?
“Money no object, a purpose built Student Union that would have everything in it, like a bar and shop.”
“But I’m not complaining!! I love this!”
But of course, money is always an issue, so what would it be then?
“My shop. My Students’ Union shop. As well as opening up student employability opportunities. I want to support students finding valuable work experience in Lincoln rather than having do it away from the University during summer.”
If even one of those aspirations becomes a reality, it’ll have Hayley’s mark as President stamped all over it.
This is my final article as editor of The Linc. And it’s nice to end it talking to next years SU President. I wish Hayley and her three VP’s all the luck for the next year and if you see them around campus, go over say hello, ask a question about the Union because all the effort they put in is to make sure the students have the best possible experience at universe. That in itself should be applauded.
Oh, and just incase you missed it, here’s Hayley’s campaign video from the recent election. It’s definitely worth another look…..