Alex Greig looks at the Union’s decision to cut the number of full time Sabbatical officer positionsOver the Christmas holidays, our Students Union announced plans to cut the full time sabbatical team from eight people down to six, stating: ‘The main reason for this change is to reduce costs due to cuts to our funding from the University.’
Call me a cynic, but considering there is an article on the opposite page right now, stating that the university has recently come into £100,000,000, I find this news baffling. Personally, I find it incredibly difficult to believe that six people will be able to do the work of eight people to the same standard, and as (from my experience as a student at least) there is nothing drastically wrong with any aspect of university life, I am struggling to comprehend how the cuts will make things any better. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The union feels that ‘It is also considered that a smaller officer team will facilitate more speedy decision making,’ but who wants speedy decisions? I’m more interested in good decisions being made. I’m sure a majority of students will agree that it is better to wait a little while longer to gain something that is truly beneficial, rather than receive a rushed, botch job of a decision.
The University have one hundred million pounds which is enough, we have calculated, to employ the eight sabbatical officers on their £20,000(ish) a year for 625 years. (Though granted there are other things to spend on). Moreover, considering the recent tripling of fees, it seems mad that cuts are going ahead. Sure, I don’t understand the economy particularly well, and nor will I ever, but the notion that such a positive figure results in cuts must be confusing to even those that do.
The union asked via Facebook for our opinions on what should be represented by these full time roles (to the cynic’s eye – and we have already established that I am quite apt at being one – which positions aren’t needed). It’s a question I, along with most, am ill-equipped to answer. Of course we need a President, Head of Athletics Union, Head of Student Media, Head of Societies. I don’t see much need for the Heath to have it’s own officer, though I’m sure thousands of medics will disagree with me. The question is of course, whether the medical population, a small proportion of our university, need their own officer, and if their opposition will be enough to save their representation.
This cut is going to be an unpopular decision, as there is a strong case for saving all the positions. Each has it’s own importance. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have created such positions in the first place. When this issue is raised at the AGM, I will not be surprised if the motion, in it’s entirety, is opposed. I feel the University needs to use it’s money more wisely – we should be questioning why more cash isn’t filtering down into our Union, the part of the University which acts to represent the students, and therefore perhaps the most central aspect of university life that there is.