End of Year Update: Ellen O'Dwyer

Monday 29-06-2020 - 11:05
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Last week we heard from your Student Officers with their 2019/20 elected Executive Committee updates. We’re ending June with updates from your Sabbatical Officers, and first up is Ellen, your Vice President, Activities…

Hi Everyone!!!

This week marks our last week of our first year in office. I say ‘our’ because our Exec team really have worked together on everything since last summer. I hope you have enjoyed reading everyone’s blog posts so far!

As a first year in 2016 I never ever expected to be in this position, I never thought I would be the one representing thousands of students, making the changes, organising the events, running campaigns, or standing up against the injustice our students face. But here we are, a whole year as a Sabbatical Officer later!

None of us could have expected the year that has been thrown at you, but I am so endlessly proud of your positivity, patience, and spirit through it all.

I know this is not the end of the year that you all expected or planned for and I know you are heartbroken. You are allowed to be sad and gutted that your year was cut short. But hold on to the friends and memories you have made and remember all the wonderful lessons Winchester has taught you; no virus can take all of that away from you. Winchester holds such a special place in so many of our hearts – Winchester and your Student Union will always be here to welcome you back when this is all over.

Rather than dwelling on the above I want to take this chance to reflect on the year we have all had and say some thank yous.

I have had the most incredible (as well as challenging and tiresome) year as your Vice President, Activities. I can honestly say I have the best grad job a girl could ask for. To all our students at Winchester, thank you for electing me, thank you for being such a pleasure to work with, thank you for being such a passionate, driven, and lovely group of students to represent, and thank you for bringing so much joy and entertainment to each day and night when we really needed it. You deserve all the success and positive things I know will be coming your way.

To Meg and Vic (I am sure everyone is tired of us saying how much we love and appreciate each other, sorry!), thank you for being the best colleagues and best friends through it all. I have been so inspired by you both every single day. Your care, kindness, respect, and willingness to help for all students is exactly what a Sabb role is all about. You have made so many positive changes which have massively improved the student experience for so many, and you have both stood up for students with so much power when it really mattered.

To our Exec team, we could not have asked for a more passionate, driven, hilarious bunch of Student Officers to work alongside. No matter how many assignments you had due or how many other commitments you had, you were always on hand to help and never once complained. Thank you.

To Team SU, thank you for doing everything possible help us tick off those manifesto points. Thank you for always supporting my ridiculous ideas and letting me down gently when you think they’re rubbish! Finally, thanks for putting up with all the inaudible noises and tantrums coming from my office, sorry!!!

To all the students within the Activities Zone, our sports teams, societies, representational networks, and volunteers. You are the most engaged students across the entire university, you are the ones that make Winchester the fun and inclusive place it is, and you are the reason that students want to stay for as long as possible in Winchester. Well done for all your hard work and success this year. I have loved supporting and celebrating you every single day.

I found it tough at times to keep sight of what this job is all about when I was exhausted at 10am on a Thursday after finishing work at 2am on Wednesday, when my to do list stretched over 3 A4 pages, my inbox was at 70+ unread emails and increasing every day, my plans for the day were put on hold because unexpected matters popped up that needed urgent attention, when a sports team had been naughty and my whole day was spent trying to defend them, when I saw people saying we were doing a bad job on Twitter, or when I was panicking about not having enough time or money to do all the things our students want and deserve. I have also questioned what on earth my job is when I was dressing up as an elf, meeting Radio 1 DJ’s, lying face down on the floor outside BOP in minus temperatures completely sober (haha), getting a minibus stuck in a multi-storey car park, or taking students to hospital (!!!).

With this being said, I promised myself last summer that as long as I had achieved 1 thing every day that made a student’s university experience that little bit better, then I would have done this role justice. I truly believe I have achieved this. At the times when the job became overwhelming and stressful, all I had to remember was that as long as I am representing the students that elected me – that was enough.

This year in the Activities Zone, we introduced trained Wellbeing Reps for over 50% of our activity groups.

Hundreds of students took part in our brand new This Girl Can, Rainbow Laces, Time to Talk, and Boys Do Cry campaigns.

We raised over £2,000 during RAG Week 2020. And well over £10,000 was raised for our RAG charities throughout the year.

We introduced 6 Representational Networks and hired a Representational Networks Assistant.

We introduced new teams and societies who entered competition for the first time ever.

Team Winchester records were broken, and new traditions were made.

We battled a storm all Winton Weekend and still had the most incredible time in true Team Winchester style.

We introduced so many more celebrating success initiatives including weekly activities champions, RAG event of the month, team takeovers, society in the spotlights, and personalised postcards.

We are about to host Winchester Student Union’s first ever Society and Networks Celebration.

There are so many more highlights I could list but I am sure you all have endless amounts of your own happy memories to reflect on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. I have seen this year how powerful and important the student voice is, and I am so excited for the future. BRING ON NEXT YEAR!!!

SU love always,

Ellen x

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