LUU’s Student Exec Reflect on Their Time So Far

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If you’ve been on campus these past few weeks, you’re bound to have noticed the widespread posters, banners, and general campaigning for Lead LUU.

Each Spring, LUU’s Student Exec are elected in a campus-wide vote. Inevitably, each year this prompts sarcastic remarks from students claiming that the Exec don’t do anything meaningful.

A recent anonymous confession on the Facebook page LeedsFess wrote:

“I legitimately hate the Union elections. I don’t care, none of you change anything, The Gryphon still spouts out the same crap and you all get a pretend job that looks great on your CV.”

This year’s Student Exec have shown passion and drive to change Leeds University Union for the better. Nonetheless, a stigma still surrounds the roles. Part of the issue, in my opinion, is a lack of awareness as to what the Exec actually do.

Given that, I spoke to some of LUU’s current Exec about what they’d done so far this year.

LUU’s Union Affairs Officer, Chris Morris, keeps the Union up and running, and makes sure students get as great a Union as possible!

Talking to The Gryphon, he said:

“I’ve started the Give & Take, a termly student-run Question Time-style event which brings in external speakers to discuss key issues. So far this year, topics tackled have included ‘Mobilising the Black Vote’ and ‘Decolonising Gender & Sexuality’.

“I organised coaches so students could have their voice heard about Brexit in October, and for another demonstration coming up on March 23rd. My work around Brexit has also involved representing students in national press, both on TV and in print.

“I’ve worked to ensure that LUU’s outlets provide value options, with 2 for £10 and a meal & drink deals in Old Bar & Terrace. I’ve pushed the change from Essentials to Co-op to ensure it was right for us and happened at the earliest possible opportunity to give students a better Union shop.

“Both Serene and I sit on University Council – we have both made sure students’ needs are being heard in the development of the University’s new 2020-25 strategy.”

Lauren Huxley is LUU’s Activities Officer, but you might know her as Baldy. She said:

“Something I’m really proud of is that I’ve sorted out a budget for all of the members of the Activities Exec which they can to use on category-wide events, which I’m hoping will make a big difference!”

In addition, Lauren has played a key role in writing the new joint Sports Strategy. She lobbied against a suggested change to sports club funding, saving members thousands of pounds.

As Activities Officer, Lauren increased committee engagement with LUU policy, so that members’ voices are heard through Executive Category Meetings. She has created links with local organisations and shared opportunities across LUU’s clubs and societies.

In addition, she launched the Tell Me More campaign, designed to open up conversations about accessibility and inclusivity within clubs and societies.

She finished: “I’ve reviewed the experience of the Activities Exec, so we can improve this opportunity, and offer students the support that they need to become brilliant Reps.”

Matt Port, LUU’s Welfare Officer, works to support the happiness, health, and wellbeing of Leeds’ students.

He told The Gryphon:

“So far this year, I’ve pushed for free sanitary products in LUU toilets, and am still amidst discussions with the University for broadening this out across campus, too.

“I’ve commissioned primary research and policy work with partners at the Alcohol and Drugs Education Consultancy, which has huge buy-in from the University and will influence a sensible, harm reduction approach to drug use.

“Meeting regularly with the counselling and wellbeing service we’ve discussed optimising and expanding the service, and I’ve represented student voice on University projects worth millions of pounds of students’ money.”

There’s no denying that this year’s Student Exec have worked hard to improve the student experience at Leeds. By continuing to draw attention to the positive impact they have on the Union, perhaps this will encourage students to engage more with the LeadLUU race, and challenge the cynical view that candidates won’t actually change anything.

Megan Cummings

Image: [Leeds University Union]