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Upcoming Student Association Elections

Hi everyone.

As 2020 draws to a close in the Student Association we are gearing up for an impactful and energised 2021. The OCA Student Association has gone through a lot of changes this year. Declining and inconsistent activity in OCASA prompted an opportunity to review the purpose and structure of the student-led organisation. With the backing of the OCA Board of Trustees an ambitious plan to re-think, re-recruit and re-launch the association was put into action.

By July, a number of us were announced in the OCA Student Discuss Forums as new reps, fulfilling roles which were designed to be a holistic representation of student life, instead of programme-specific roles. Each discipline now had the space for two representatives and we had filled many of the spaces with a few notable gaps. 

Re-forming OCASA into the OCA Student Association necessitated taking executive decisions to set up the structure and an expedient process for filling the rep positions. As each role had two spaces, every person who stepped forward ended up standing unopposed, so elections were not needed.

Within a few weeks we were meeting over Zoom and laying the groundwork for our agenda. It was wonderful to be part of a team with such drive to improve things! Bernadette, our Lead Rep asked me to fulfil the role of Deputy which I gladly accepted to support my friends and colleagues. We also had Steph step forward to fill one of the Studies roles. 

Our first meetings exposed many areas for potential improvement and we targeted our energy into focusing on understanding the needs of the students through a Student Survey, as well as to improve aspects of Student Association IT so we could work on creating a revamped Student Association website to give students a central place to get information support and directed. The Survey was a great success with almost 300 replies, and the website is almost ready for relaunch – were waiting on the exciting results of the Student Association Logo competition to influence aspects of the design!

Sadly, at the end of October Bernadette decided to step down from her role as Lead Rep ahead of her original plans. I want to pass on the heartfelt thanks of all the reps to Bernadette for all the tireless work she put into revamping the Student Association. It’s an amazing legacy of your time volunteering to make the OCA student experience better. Bernadette nominated Steph to take the role of Lead Rep, and I am sure many will have seen her introductory posts.

Unfortunately, in November Steph and a number of other reps also stood down from their roles to concentrate on their personal lives and studies. I just wanted to also thank each of them for their contributions this year. What this exposed that, with exuberance, can also come mistakes. Part of me writing this post is to be as transparent as possible with students – something that I hope will continue to be a core value of the Student Association in the future.

The necessity to act decisively to recruit the new Rep roles had carried over into my appointment as Deputy and then in the nomination of Steph as Bernadette’s successor. With Steph stepping down we were left without rules and direction as to how to proceed. I am grateful that Will Woods was able to support us. The Student Association Constitution has all the protocols for Rep elections, and Will was able to update the constitution with the updated terminology and roles from the restructure of the Association. It was then ratified by the Student Association.

So that brings up to speed. There are some key points that we’ve learned as a group:

  • Everyone is human, and we make mistakes.
  • It’s essential that we learn from our mistakes.
  • Communication is something that is traditionally poor at the OCA (and the Student Association).
  • If the Student Association is going to succeed, it has to lead the right way. We have to follow a democratic process laid out in the Constitution.
  • It’s every student’s responsibility to make elections count: to show up and have their vote heard.

So, what are we doing about it?

You may have already seen the advertisements for elections. These have been created by Catherine Wood at the OCA as the appointed returning officer. We are ensuring that 2021 steps off on the right foot by calling elections for each role currently unfilled. I encourage you to review the available positions and apply if you think that you can contribute to the role and the Association team.

The timelines of the elections are as follows:

  • The nominations window closes 23:59 on Friday 8th January – so plenty of time to think about applying over the festive period!
  • On Monday 11th Jan, Rep nominees will be announced, and the voting window opens. This gives you a chance to read the personal statements of the nominees and for nominees to campaign for your votes!
  • The voting window closes at 23:59 on 31st January. The results will be tallied by the returning officer.
  • Winners will be announced on the week commencing 1st February

It’s up to all of us as OCA students to make these elections meaningful, so I implore you to get involved, ask questions and if you think you could make a difference, to throw your hat into the ring.

According to the constitution, I am currently caretaking the Lead role as Deputy Lead. I am also conscious that my appointment to that role was not democratic. As such, I will be stepping down from my role as Deputy when the voting window open and go back to being TEL Rep with Becky.

The Deputy role will be re-elected by nomination of the Student Association Reps after the elections are concluded, in line with the rules of the constitution.

 

If you’ve got this far, thank you for sticking with me! I’m really excited to build on the amazing team we’ve already got, to extend the legacy of all the former Reps new and old and to make meaningful change for OCA students. I’m glad to be part of the story with the team.

I hope you enjoy well-deserved breaks over the holiday period. Good luck to all those expecting assessment results soon, and hope to see you all energised and engaged for the elections in 2021!

With warm wishes,

Dan Woodward
Deputy Lead & TEL Rep

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Posted by author: Dan Woodward
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