In case you’ve missed it, an election is coming. Bed sheets are being rehashed as home-made banners, Photoshop is being strained to the limit in conjuring up propaganda, social media is being utilised to push the brand and there is a veritable stampede in the direction of the hustings. Yes, this is democracy, St Andrean style.
I spoke with Athletic Union President Emily Griffiths to discuss the various different facets surrounding the role. As I reclined on the sofa in her office, observing a group of University staff members impersonating the Scotland national football team in the main hall of the Sports Centre, huffing and puffing with guts bursting forth from their replica tops, she chuckled when I asked her what an average day in the life of the AU President was. “There isn’t”, she said, “it’s simply constant change”. This was to be no Sunday Telegraph “Day on a Plate” feature, your correspondent quite rightly thought.
Going through her schedule it is clear to see why Emily feels this way. She is currently organising a re-launch of the University’s sporting Hall of Fame, a Give it A Go day to celebrate the 500th anniversary of St Leonard’s College of course, the much heralded arrival of the Vengaboys in St Andrews to conduct the festivities that will abound at the final Sinners Sport of this academic year.
There is an inherent variety in organising these events which Emily admits that any candidate would enjoy, saying that it is not in every position that one minute you’re playing a role in bringing one of the seminal and genre-defining set of musicians from the 1990s to Fife and then organising a world record Strip The Willow attempt.
Given the range of diverse situations facing the AU President on top of the usual tasks – helping clubs develop sponsorship, attending meetings of the Executive and dealing with companies who work in partnership with the University, such as Kukri the sportswear manufacturers for example –I asked if the job was ever stressful. I was instantly rebutted, with the President saying “I don’t find it stressful at all. This is a challenge, but it is also a role with a lot of scope”.
Included within this scope is no doubt the renowned change to the AU Exec. In a lengthy discourse, Emily reaffirmed her much-documented belief that the changes to the executive structure which she has proposed will “in the long term, help benefit the running and organisation of sport at this university”. Reading behind Emily’s words regarding her involvement in so many different events and other, more bureaucratic developments, it is evident that this is a role which requires a great amount of endeavour and dedication, but one in which a lasting legacy for the University and the student body can be left behind.
However, before any prospective candidates can start planning to outdo their predecessor by inviting Cliff Richard to Sinners or plan a mass version of the Dashing White Sergeant down Market Street, the tricky business of actually getting into office needs to be navigated, palms need to be greased and banners need to be hung out of windows across town. “It is a long week” is Emily’s immediate reaction, delivered with a wry smile when I probe her on how to conduct a campaign.
“You need energy, an enthusiastic group behind you and you need to make sure that you have a presence across town” are her words of advice to any potential candidates seeking to run for the job. But as has been clear throughout our discussion, the ultimate goal of taking up such a rewarding position in University life is ultimately the main adrenaline jag needed for any candidate in her opinion.
As a position, the presidency of the Athletic Union is one that most students, and all who take part in sport at the University should have an interest in. As has been outlined, it is one which involves a great deal of rewarding work and the possibility to make a lasting impression. Therefore, when the time comes, please do exercise your franchise and keep up to date with The Saint for all the latest election coverage, sporting and otherwise.