48 hours in the life of the CUSU Education Officer
One of the questions I had when I was running to be a sabb was what an average day would look like, and I still don’t know. The cliché is true; there’s no such thing as a typical day. The best I can do is a diary of two specific days last week, but read this knowing it’s a long way from comprehensive!
In to the office at 9am for a Sabb meeting – we don’t usually do much that’s scheduled before 10 but today we need to finalise the Democracy Review proposals for CUSU Council next Monday. We work through the consultation responses and decide on a plan, and then it’s over to Evie to write up the final proposal so it can be sent out this evening.
Next up is the elections meeting. I’m not on elections committee so elections are a whole lot less work for me than for some of the others, but we still have a weekly catch-up on how it’s going, what we’re doing to increase engagement, making sure everyone we know is thinking of running is getting enough support and all the other things that go into making sure CUSU’s democracy runs well. (My action from the meeting: to write this blog!)
Then I have an hour or two of getting on with some work. I’ve got a load of emails to reply to, mostly about some work I’ve been doing with the libraries on study skills support, a project with the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning on student involvement in curriculum design, and some committee papers I make a note to read later. We’re also coming up to the nominations deadline for the Student Led Teaching Awards, so I spend a few minutes spamming group chats to make sure people know about that.
At midday I head across the courtyard with Sophia (GU President) and Emrys (Disabled Students’ Officer) for our weekly standing meeting with the Director of Education Services, Alice Benton. We have regular informal meetings with a few different key figures from the university, and they’re a great opportunity for sounding out ideas, asking quick questions and working out how to navigate the sprawling and complicated structure of the university.
After that I have a quick lunch break (Important advice: Espresso Lane is the best café near CUSU by far) before heading up King’s Parade to the Old Schools, which is the central HQ of the university and where the VC and team are based. I’m there for General Board, which is the senior academic board of the University. It’s the most important committee I sit on but certainly not the most useful – generally by the time anything particularly important to students reaches General Board, CUSU has had the opportunity to see it already. This either happens at more junior committees or informal meetings, which are where a lot of change is really made.
Today starts with a Trustee Finance Committee meeting. All the sabbs are trustees of CUSU (except the Welfare & Rights Officer who’s a trustee of the GU) so we’re involved in the governance and running of the Union as well as our day-to-day campaigns and representation work. For the Finance Committee that’s a bit more work than usual right now, as we draft the 2019-20 budget for CUSU Council later this term.
After that I get on with some emails again (NSS Boycott this time) while I sit with Evie at the rent negotiations drop-in for JCR and MCR officers, and we have a quick planning meeting for possible staff pay strike action later this year as we come up to the end of the staff ballot.
The main event of the afternoon is the SUAS-Sabbs meeting, where we all meet with the team at the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service to hear about what they’re doing, and to help translate what they learn about students’ experiences into campaigns work for us. SUAS is one of the best things CUSU does and makes a huge difference to so many students; it’s one of my regrets from my sabb year so far that I think we’re still not good enough at shouting about the work they do.
The day finishes with a quick catch up about the Student-Led Teaching Awards (over 500 nominations and venue finally confirmed!) and then a meeting with rent campaigners from one college. After that I head home, but I can’t stay away from CUSU too long because later this evening it’s the Women’s Campaign party – a great end to a busy couple of days.