Nouse sat down with Tim Woodford, the new president of Constantine College, ahead of the launch of their new website.
What does it mean to be College President?
My main role is to lead our Students’ Association (CSA), and chair the executive committee of volunteer students, to develop the college, and our offering, for students.
I got involved in this role through my work at the college’s hockey club, where I was noticed by last year’s CSA. They kindly recommended that I explore further opportunities within the college’s committee, and, loaded with a few ideas, I decided to gamble for the top job. It was an amazing decision, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed leading the college this year. I’m hugely proud of the team, and what we have achieved so far.
Can you tell us a little bit about Constantine?
Constantine, named after Roman emperor Constantine the Great, is a relatively new college having only opened in 2014. Located on Campus East, we are home to over 600 resident undergraduates, and have a community of several thousand students and alumni. We are so proud of the diversity within our community – our members come from across cover the globe, with academic interests that span the entire subject catalogue at the university!
For those who don’t know, could you explain how the college committee works?
A large part of what the college offers students is organised by our CSA – a group of volunteer students who, alongside their studies, give up their time to support the college’s membership. This is made up of STYCs, STYMs, STYM committee, officers, and an executive committee. Each role is absolutely vital in ensuring the college gives students the best possible time at university.
The executive committee members are elected to their roles following a voting procedure held during the first semester, and remain in post, from 1 January January 1st, for the entire year. The executives responsible for events, merchandise, sport, and wellbeing (also known as Vice-Presidents) lead a team of officers that, alongside the President, provide our services for to students. Our events, merchandise, sports teams, and wellbeing initiatives are all managed and developed by students, for students.
You’re launching a new website which is really exciting, what inspired this?
When I first joined the university, having just been allocated my college, the first thing I tried to do was find a college website. I was disappointed that I couldn’t, and felt like an important online ‘hub’ was missing for students. The collegiate system is such a unique, exciting aspect to York University, and I wanted to show that off! The fact that incoming students will have this resource is really satisfying, and I hope it proves as impactful as I envisioned.
There is so much to college life, and it was rather difficult to discover, or benefit from, all of these aspects. Information was fractured over several websites: college information was on YUSU’s site; events were promoted through Instagram (which not all students have); college sport was split between a separate YUSU run website, and page on their main site; and our news articles were found over three 3 outlet websites! None of these had direct paths to one another, and it was really tricky to navigate. With everything in one place, it is now as easy as possible for students to get involved with all opportunities at the college, and can be aware of the new projects and initiatives we introduce.
Did you face any challenges whilst making the new website?
The biggest challenge was finding the right software, and working out what to include. There are some fantastic website builders nowadays, which make structuring sites quite easy, but I was disappointed with their inability to upload a huge number of images to sites. This was my main motivation to specifically look into photographic website services, as they would enable us to publish the hundreds of images we get from each event or project. Having a cascade of images is a far nicer way to see our work – I wanted to show, not tell!
What do you want students to get out of the new website?
I hope the committee’s work reaches more students, and encourages them to get involved in college life. Beyond this, it would be amazing if the site inspires more students to join the student association, and champion initiatives they believe in, to ensure a diverse range of projects and opportunities are developed at the college. Lastly, I hope the site makes the college more accessible for off-campus students, as it becomes easier for them to engage with us, and return to our weekly and termly events.
An innovative addition to the website are our new sports pages. Each of our college clubs now has their own webpage, with a club description, contact information, image portfolio, and direct links to their fixture and results pages on the college sport website. I’m really proud of the job our sports presidents and committees do to ensure college sport is as successful as it is, and I wanted to provide them with a nice way of showcasing their work, as well as connecting with incoming and current students. I really believe it will be a game changer for improving accessibility to sport.
Another facility I am incredibly proud of is our ‘Stories’ menu. I really admire the work of the university’s student media groups, and wanted a space where we could promote their work and websites.
The site was built also with parents and loved ones in mind. It’s a great facility for them to see what the college offers, and what students may be up to!
Can you give us a sneak peak of your plans for the future?
The committee and I are really excited about the next academic year, and the projects we aim to complete before the end of our term. Making the switch to semesters is going to be interesting, and a new challenge for us as colleges. We’re embracing this change by providing even more support and opportunity in semester one, by installing a new study space within the college (continuing something trialled during last year’s common assessment period, to positive reviews), and introducing new end of year festivities as more students are staying on campus into December. Of course we are also looking at ways to improve our current events, to ensure these remain the highest quality.
It has been amazing to have such enthusiasm from our international students and environmental officers. I’ve been working with them on some exciting new initiatives, competitions, and projects that we aim to launch at the start of the academic year.
I am committed to encouraging new talent to ensure the committee is left in creative, hard-working, and ambitious hands. I hope to have inspired some students with our achievements over this past year, and that the momentum of our work does not end with our time in the association.
You can access Constantines new website here https://www.constantinecollege.co.uk