“Improved? Oh no I love the SU!”
Katie and Lily are two very friendly people I met in Tommy’s Bar. To them, the SU is a “friendly place”, with “always stuff going on”. They seemed very much in the know about the “cheap” nights out on campus, but also that the SU is a “great place to go for help”. Not just sticky floors then.
Syed is another guy in Tommy’s, this time claiming his free chips for having his say. When I asked him to sum up the SU in a word he was very obliging. “Effective”. Short and sweet.
Nathalie is a girl with something to say. Outside the building where the stand to register you opinion was, I overheard her, with an entourage of moral support, talk about her grievances with the SU, particularly on one night out. I caught her after she walked away and asked her to recount her story. On a night out, Nathalie hadn’t been feeling well, and some alcohol had caused her to throw up on the SU dance floor. After paying her £25 fine, much to her dismay, she found that a glitch in the system still prevented her from entry, or as it’s otherwise known, she had been put on ‘the black list’. I asked her what she felt could be done better. Here I got some sound bites.
“Update their systems”, was her main issue, “and maybe an online fine paying system”. Her friends chipped in with their approval. The ability to petition the black list was an additional improvement, as her Summer Ball ticket last year was at risk due to the system error.
All this, she said, could have made her feel more secure at her union, and less “criminal”. She expressed her frustration at knowing people who have got away with exactly the same offence as she had.
What do you think of the SU? I asked the man who sells sweets to students on a weekly basis, somewhat timidly. He asked me to repeat the question. After a moment’s thought he launches into, maybe, the answer I wasn’t really expecting.
“The layout of the university is very different,” he said. Speaking as someone who also sells sweets in Brunel, he had noticed that there is not really one place, not even one path, where all students have to go through to get to lectures. Royal Holloway is a much smaller campus, as we all know, where everyone seems to be spread out all over the place.
What about the Student’s Union itself? This seems to be a lesser concern. SUs will be SUs. “It’s the place that organises concerts and nights out.”
Is he right? Perhaps not, but it was enlightening to get a perspective from someone who isn’t directly involved in it all.
Richard went to university himself, studying finance, and became a stockbroker during his twenties. The recession in 2008 made him redundant and he started selling sweets for a living.