Image Credit: University of York
A YUSU report has been released by the Students’ Union highlighting the institution’s successes over the past year. The report also details some self-reflection by YUSU, who take time to note that “communication” with students was the most pressing issue for many students on campus, despite repeated attempts by YUSU President Samara Jones, and former YUSU President James Durcan.
2019 was a landmark year for the Students’ Union, which saw a record 32 percent turnout figure during its elections, and it awarded £175,000 to sports clubs, societies, and student media: more than ever before. However, the acquisition of a further three venues has potentially resulted in some concerns about YUSU’s long-term financial sustainability - this was not mentioned explicitly in the report. Mentions of the climate crisis are somewhat absent from the report; despite declaring a climate crisis in late September, YUSU’s enthusiasm for sustainability has been some-what lacklustre since then.
Roses reportedly had a record year, with over 130 fixtures being competed. The tournament also featured the introduction of new elements, such as a fireworks display, and a mindfulness space. The report’s Roses summary concludes by noting the 427 hours of volunteer work at the event, although Nouse suspects the actual figure may have been somewhat higher owing to the large amount of hours worked by York’s student media.
The document also took the time to defend the controversial introduction of the YUSU Working Class Officer part-time role. Following the election of the first Officers in 2018, the role went unfilled until a special second round in the YUSU elections in early 2019, raising serious questions about the necessity of the position and its application at the University.
In the report, the Student and Insight Manager argues that the ‘York Has Class’ conference was a “key success” following the introduction of the role, although the conference has yet to be repeated since its first introduction in 2018. The report takes time to evaluate YUSU’s communication strategy, arguing that a “tailored” approach that would be more useful to students in the pipeline.
A new technological platform will allow YUSU to send emails to students who specifically sign up to certain lists, and will be trialled in the new year. The report concludes with an evaluation of YUSU’s financial estate, which it says is “struggling”. As the owner of multiple service venues across a wide geographic area, YUSU is somewhat unique amongst other Students’ Unions, and Brexit presents an “ever-present” threat to future stability.
Asked whether YUSU continually represents students, YUSU President Samara Jones said: “Different people engage in different ways and that’s right. Students are free to choose which of our student opportunities they want to use and get involved with and there are some excellent stats to show good and growing engagement. In term one alone we had 8,026 unique student registrations to one or more YUSU ratified sports club, society, student media or volunteer network.”
“The number of students engaged in a YUSU job or as an academic rep are constantly growing. I would really like to see more people involved in more things but I think that we shouldn’t be overly narrow in the view we take on engagement and try to suggest that a student who chooses to engage in paid employment with their Student Union is any less important than the student who joins a volunteering network, submits a policy or drinks in The Lounge or Courtyard.”