The platitude rings true as always in that there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of a CUSU sabbatical officer. Every day is different: some days will be spent working from home writing material for campaigns such as the NSS Boycott, others will be spent bouncing from meeting to meeting with everyone from the Head of Education Services to members of CUSU Campaigns to academic reps who have queries and ideas they want to chat through to the other sabbatical officers. I’ve bitten the bullet, however, and picked a random day from the past week to give you at least some insight into what my everyday working life is like.
I got into work at 9am in order to read through the morning’s emails and post a reminder about boycotting the NSS before the first meeting of the day. This was my monthly one-on-one with Graham Virgo, the Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education. The CUSU and GU Presidents also have these meetings and they’re really useful for finding out what’s going on in the upper echelons of the university as well as testing out ideas on someone who oversees the education work of the university and also has a lot of influence. This week I chatted to him about the NSS, Brexit, and higher education policy moving forward under the new government. The rest of the morning was spent dealing with questions from students and planning Lent Term’s programme of Academic Forums, CUSU facilitated meetings of academic reps from across the university.
Normally I drink my lunch at my desk whilst working (yes, I drink Huel, I know I’m a terrible person) which frees up my lunch break to do some errands in town or to catch a friend in the midst of our mutual busyness. I try not to take a break when other people are in the lounge because I try to make sure I’m not thinking about CUSU at all during my lunch break in order to ensure I have a proper mental break from work which then allows me to be more productive/awake during the afternoon. (I miss naps and sleep-ins from being a student). This is especially important when I have committee meetings after lunch – thankfully this wasn’t the case today, as I had a meeting of the General Board of the Faculties earlier in the week which took up a lot of time.
Today, however, the Oxford SU sabbatical team was visiting so the afternoon was busy talking to our counterparts about issues that are similar across the university. I found it especially useful to talk about the NSS Boycott, as Cambridge and Oxford are the only universities to have maintained a three year boycott, and about how Oxford’s Access and Academic Affairs Officer balances the two parts of his role in light of how Cambridge is moving to having two Access, Education, and Participation Officers.
After the Oxford sabbs had gone, I met with the Graduate Union’s Faculty Liaison Officer about reforms to the academic rep system and then ran some training for College Academic Affairs Officers. It was a long day but really varied and so really interesting!