In March, Kerri Prince was elected as the Union of Brunel Students’ Student Assembly Chair. Despite leaving the position in favour of a paid position within the Union, Prince remains passionate about student politics and encouraging students to get involved with local and national government. I sat down with Kerri, who imparted much important information for our Freshers as well as our current students. She discusses the importance of Student Assembly, Freshers’ Week and gives us a few words of wisdom.
What is a student assembly and what do they represent?
“Student Assembly is the primary decision-making body of the Student Union. Elected through a cross-campus ballot, Assembly is made up of 20 Community Members, Chairs, Officers, a Vice Chair, and an Assembly Chair. They are elected by you, and their role is to represent you. They are there to hold the elected full and part-time officers to account. It sounds rigid and boring, but some of the most heated debates I have ever participated in have been during Student Assembly. Over the last few years, Assembly has passed motions to support Equal Marriage, and to campaign on voter registration - but they have also voted down motions including one motion to celebrate the work of the Queen. There have also been a couple of occasions where an elected officer has been up for a vote of no confidence, which is a vote to remove that person from their role.”
Why is it important to us as students?
“It is important because it is the only official forum that students can use to raise Union issues. Not happy with a particular Academy night? Not only contact UBS Nightlife, but take it to Assembly and question your officers. Want to put forward a motion to see the four officers to wear a courgette costume for the rest of the academic year? Do it. Make it happen. It might not pass, and the Trustee Board might overrule it - but let your voice be heard.”
How can we get involved with the student assembly?
“During Fresher’s Week and the week after, nominations will be open for Assembly whereby students can put themselves forward, create a manifesto and design posters. This is usually much bigger in the Spring elections, but the atmosphere during elections is great. Stand, campaign, and come to the results event! Alternatively, you can attend as a student. You can still speak (through the discretion of the Chair!), but you won't be able to vote.”
What do you think is the most crucial aspect of an individual’s first year at uni?
“Learning to balance everything. With the intensity of everything that is happening around you, you need to stay on top of things. Head to Poundland and buy an academic diary. Keep track of everything you're doing so that you're giving yourself time to spend doing something you enjoy. Don't become active in 10 clubs and societies, write for Le Nurb, have a radio show, be an Assembly member, stand to be a student rep, and go out socialising every evening - you will combust! Plan your time, and enjoy Uni whilst it lasts.”
What did you take away from you freshers’ experience?
“A headache and a sprained ankle! Freshers’ Week was probably the most enlightening of my time here. You're forced to be an adult, to think independently. But over the year I learnt so much more. I will never forget the first time I did a proper all-nighter, and ended up in McDonalds getting breakfast, before my 9am lecture on no sleep. I learnt to always make sure I had change for the vending machines before I even considered spending the night in the library. There are so many lessons to learn, and things to enjoy. Don't focus solely on your studies and forget to have fun.”
If you could give our freshers one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Not to take yourself too seriously. There are thousands of students in the same position as you, all away from home probably for the first time, and they're just as nervous. Get out of your halls room and get to know the people around you. Attend club and society meetings, chat to people on the table next to you at Freshers’, and don't judge anybody. It's a scary time and people might not come off immediately as well as they'd like to. Just relax, get involved, and meet as many people as you can.”
Student Assembly plays an integral role within every student’s university experience, if you have any concerns or queries the Assembly can be the body to act on your words!