With the start of the 2022-23 academic year, the Students’ Representative Council have reconvened. The Council meets monthly to discuss important issues impacting student life and allows students themselves to come forward with their needs.
The Students’ Representative Council, or the SRC, is “the legally recognised body for student representation at the University of St Andrews since 1889, including all SRC subcommittees”, according to the Students’ Union Association website.
“Full-time sabbatical officers and volunteer students are elected every year to sit on the Union’s Students’ Representative Council and the University Court.”
Association President Juan Pablo Rodriguez, who sits on the Council, describes the SRC as “an opportunity for students to be heard” and “taken seriously by the university”.
He said: “The goal of the SRC is to provide the space for student voices to be heard through the amplifier of the Students’ Association”.
According to the Association Chair, Alasdair Richmond, the Council acts as a forum for Officers and Sabbaticals, as well as other representatives of the student body, to raise the issues impacting their specific areas.
“What differentiates the SRC from any other decision-making body (is that) it is a collection of democratically elected officers all with their own agendas… we try to find the happy medium that satisfies everyone.”
The Students’ Representative Council is a branch of the Students’ Union Association. The Association is a separate entity to the university acting as an impartial voice for students but working in partnership with university offices and faculties to improve the quality of life, study, and other aspects of the university by incorporating the ideas and needs of students.
Alasdair said: “A lot of people who aren’t on the SRC don’t realise how much we talk and work with the University.”
The SRC has recently worked with the University on updating the University’sofficial strategy for the coming years, which is now open to the inclusion of wider community input.
Outside of the university, the SRC brings forward student voices on local and larger stages.
“It’s quite often that through an SRC motion we say to the SRC president… write a letter to… these lists of MPs to express the opinions of the students at the University of St Andrews.”
A prime example of this was in 2016, when the SRC voted on a motion to oppose Brexit, which guided the Union’s stance in approaching this issue.
The Council consists of officers and sabbatical team members that are elected by the student body on a yearly basis. This is an important part of the democratic status of the SRC, according to its members.
Alasdair said, “Everyone’s major input to the SRC is who they put on the SRC.”
The Council meetings are also open forums. This ensures that students are able to witness what the Council is discussing firsthand, ask questions, and submit motions.
According to the SRC page, “Any matriculated student can attend the beginning of a Councils meeting and may speak to Councils during the open forum section, whether to raise issues they feel Councils should be addressing, or to give opinions on a motion.”
Alasdair supports this, stating “right at the beginning we have a report from the councillors… but there is an option for you to ask questions. If anyone wants to come along and ask a question of an officer, that’s totally within their rights.”
“If you don’t want to stay for the motions that come after, just come and ask your question and then feel free to leave.”
“A motion is basically the vehicle for any question to be put forward to the SRC,”
For a motion to be approved, 25 student signatures must be collected, and the motion sent to the Association Chair for discussion at the next available meeting. Students can then attend the meeting to introduce their motion and engage in consequent debate. Officers can also introduce motions on behalf of students that they represent.
Students can also get involved in the SRC on a deeper level, by running for officer and convenor positions to sit on the council. Elections begin in March and allow students from all year levels, undergraduate or postgraduate, to engage in student representation in areas that they are passionate about.
On how to get involved, Alasdair said, “We’re working with the Union’s website intern to make all of our resources more accessible.”
“I also plan on putting together a simple “how to” (for SRC matters). A guide for people.”
The next Students’ Representative Council meeting will be on Tuesday 11 of October, at 6pm in the Large Rehearsal Room, on the second floor of the Union building. For more information and updates, visit the Students’ Union Association website, or email the relevant SRC Councillor.
Alasdair wants students to remember that “the SRC is there to represent every student and their voice.”
“Every officer has a hotline to their counterparts in the university. So, if you need something brought to the university, generally it’s a good body of people to go and ask.”
The dates for the rest of the academic year are (subject to change): 11 October; 15 November; 24 January; 14 February; 14 March; and 4 April.
The Association President said, “The first (and I would say most important) bit is to attend the SRC’s meetings and engage with your elected representatives,”.
“Make sure that you raise your concerns with your representatives so that they get raised in the SRC.”
“If you want to write a motion or come to a meeting, and you don’t know how… just send me an email,” he says, “I absolutely love answering questions from people.”
Image: Lauren McAndrew