My First Month at Oxford SU

Oxford SU
Oxford SU
Aug 5, 2019 · 3 min read

By Roisin McCallion | VP Welfare & Equal Opportunity

July 1st has arrived. All those months ago when I was stood outside the Rad Cam in the snow handing out flyers, and then when my name was read out at the results ceremony, this felt a lifetime away, but here we are. My term as a sabbatical officer for Oxford SU has begun.

That first week was daunting, overwhelming and exciting all at the same. There were people to meet, names to remember and acronyms to learn (So. Many. Acronyms.) The 2018/19 sabbatical team were still around for one week only and we needed to make the most of their knowledge; download their brains, so to speak, before they left. The concept was somewhat overwhelming. How would I ever know as much as Ellie did? She’d accomplished so much; I certainly would have big shoes to fill. Enter Ellie stage right with some excellent advice: it’s not about filling anyone’s shoes, it’s about bringing my own. And she’s right, sure, there will be a continuation from her work which I will carry on, but ultimately how I run this year is up to me. Once more I’m simultaneously excited and overwhelmed.

The second week was jampacked with training and induction activities run by the staff. Introductions to committees, the Student Advice Service and Student Engagement. On Wednesday I attended a course on Social Prescribing- my first real opportunity to go out and present as the VP for Welfare and Equal Opportunities. The course was interesting. I learnt a lot and met some really interesting people. Then it was back to the office to learn more about the university structure and committees- there’s more to this sabbatical malarkey than you’d think! Ryan, our CEO, introduced us to the different ‘hats’ sabbatical officers have to wear: employee, trustee, campaigner and representative. It’s a useful way of thinking about the role and I’m sure will prove helpful throughout the year!

My third week arrived and I’m off on a residential to the Cotswolds with the other ‘sabbs’ and the senior leadership team. I had got the impression from last year’s officers that this is where plans really start to be made and you get to grips with what the role entails, and they weren’t wrong. A day spent working with a consultant on how best to work together as a team of officers and our expectations of senior leadership and then a day working out our annual plan and objectives based on the manifestos we were elected on. It was very intense, but it was great to have everything down on paper: although I might not have everything nailed, I at least have a starting point now and feel as if I know what my year will (hopefully) look like.

And now, after all that, it’s time to get going. Despite a month jampacked with training, meetings and handovers I know I’ve still a got lot to learn, but I’m excited for the year ahead and confident that alongside my fellow sabbatical officers we can accomplish some great things.

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