Who’s Who: Your 2023 Sabbatical Officers
The University of St Andrews Students’ Association, also referred to as the Union, exists to provide support and representation to students. Six elected sabbatical officers work full-time to address students’ priorities, respond to their concerns, and enhance their university experience. The Sabbatical Officers (Sabbs) are elected each year towards the end of semester two, and are current or former students of the University taking a year out from their studies to work solely for the Union.
Barry Will: Association President
The Association President leads the Students’ Association, and is therefore the primary external representative of both the Association and the student body as a whole to the media, alumni, and the University. The President sits on University Court and Senate, chairs the Finance, Audit, and Risk committee as well as attending the Governance, Nominations, and Staffing Committee meetings. In addition to this, the President leads negotiations for the Association’s annual grant from the University, is a trustee of the Association, and oversees key areas of social responsibility, most notably financial accessibility and the Association’s sustainability policies. This year’s Association President is Barry Will. His manifesto placed a great amount of emphasis on the importance of affordable housing for students, as well as an increased focus on sustainability. He put forward a number of proposals centred around easing the burden of the cost-of-living crisis, as well as expressing a desire to see more student-led campaigns.
Caitlin Ridgway: Director of Wellbeing and Equality
“As Director of Wellbeing and Equality I represent the student voice on issues of equality, diversity, inclusivity, health and wellbeing. Within the Students’ Association I chair the Equality Committee, attend the Sexual and Gender-based Violence Forum, sit on the Students’ Representative Council along with my fellow Sabbs, and sit on the StAnd Together (Got Consent, Got Limits, and Peer Support) Board. I also represent students to the university governance by attending meetings such as Equally Safe and the Cost of Living Taskforce, and working on Charters such as the Emily Test (gender-based violence prevention) and Athena Swan (gender equality).”
She also stated, “Strengthening and diversifying student support is at the heart of my manifesto goals. This includes improving the communication of existing resources so that students feel confident that they have somewhere to seek support if they need it, as well as looking at how we can expand on the support we currently provide, for example making sure our resources cater to intersectional experiences.
“Over summer I have been working with Student Services, the Students’ Association, and SRC officers on advocacy campaigns to raise awareness of how to report incidents and seek specialised support. I’ve also begun work on one of my key manifesto aims of making our wellbeing resources more inclusive. Having strong, wide-reaching support systems in place provides a solid foundation for students to not only feel safer, but also empowered. This will help to foster a culture of solidarity the student community, which is really important to me.”
Outside of being a Sabbatical Officer, Ms Ridgeway has a particular passion for baked goods. She said, “Focusing on the process of making bread or pastry really helps me to switch off when I’m stressed, and it’s even better when you get something delicious at the end of it! While I was on study abroad in Hamburg, my friend and I coined the ‘little treat lifestyle’ where we made it our mission to sample different bakeries and find the best Franzbrötchen (they’re amazing sticky cinnamon pastries that are a specialty in the city). I haven’t yet found them in any bakeries since I’ve come home so I’ve been researching online recipes and trying to recreate them in my kitchen – we’re not there just yet but the process is very enjoyable!”
Fiona Waddell: Athletic Union President
“I’m Fiona, this year’s Athletic Union President, and I essentially oversee all things student sport! I support clubs, volunteers, rec sport, events, finance, wellbeing, competitions, development, community, and much more! Every student who wants to take part in sport and activity at their time in St Andrews should have that opportunity, and my job is to make that happen in the best way possible. This year, I hope to make it more fun than ever before to get down to the Sports Centre on a Wednesday afternoon and support your friends and university, as well as removing as many barriers as possible for students to engage with sport. I’ve been involved in student sport my whole time in St Andrews, through the basketball club, the Student Sport Team, the Athletic Union event, and on my club committee, and I’ve had a fantastic time! I hope to make every student’s experience with Saints Sport as beneficial and enjoyable as it can be. Reach out to me for any and all things sport and enjoy your time in our wee town!”
Cam Brown: Director of Education
“The Director of Education is like the champion of students when it comes to all things learning, teaching, and research at St Andrews. As someone elected to this role, my mission is crystal clear: making sure your opinions matter. I’m here to ensure that your voices echo in every corner of the university. I lead the Education Executive team, which includes the Faculty and PG Presidents and offer guidance to our twenty-two School Presidents, and eight Language Convenors, and over 400 Class Reps – who are all vital in representing your student perspectives. Being a trustee for both the University of St Andrews Students’ Association and the University itself, gives a strategic vantage point, meaning I’m in the near perfect position to not just listen, but to turn up the volume on your educational concerns, no matter where they arise. Your academic experience matters, and I’m here to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be. Because together, #YesWeCam. This year I have plans to level up our academic experience. I’m working to simplify the process of getting extensions by introducing an efficient online portal that works for all schools and departments. Ensuring that every student gets a fair access, no matter their field of study. And hey, for fellow postgrads, it’s time to turn up the volume on your voices. Working towards a new era where their voices resound louder than ever. Through collaboration with current postgraduate leaders, we’re reshaping our representation to be more inclusive and responsive, addressing their unique challenges and aspirations. Thirdly, let’s face it, studying isn’t always a breeze, especially when you’re stuck at home or in your dorm room. That’s why I’m determined to address this issue head- on. We all understand the struggles of finding the perfect study spot, regardless the time day. That’s why I’m committed to with the University to establish a dedicated 24-hour study space, which is easily accessible and able to cater for all students— postgraduate and undergraduate. So, the bottom line: this year is all about less hassle, more empowerment, and delivering better study spaces for everyone.
"Since a young age, I’ve had a strong passion for advocacy and campaigning. It’s what drives me to make a difference, and is why law has always held a special place for me, so pursuing an undergrad in the field was a natural choice for me. I completed my Bachelor of Law with Honours at the University of Chester. In 2022, I took the next step in my academic journey by enrolling in the MLitt Legal and Constitutional Studies program, here, at the University of St Andrews. While immersing myself in all things law, I had the privilege of also being a Postgrad Representative for the School of History. Alongside that, I also had the great opportunity of being a Student Ambassador.”
Lucy Brook: Director of Events and Services
“As the Director of Events and Services, I have an exciting responsibility – planning and delivering an incredible entertainment schedule for the Association. I focus on creating unforgettable experiences for students, organising events like Freshers’ Graduation Ball. Additionally, I provide input on the commercial services at the Union, ensuring students’ needs and desires are met. I manage bookings in the commercial spaces and work closely with the Marketing team for effective promotion. I also oversee a number of our activities subcommittees such as Mermaids and Ents, which provide opportunities to students in areas such as the performing arts.”
Regarding the year ahead, Ms Brook said, “My main goal for this year is to shift the DoES role to have a larger focus on the performing arts. However, a significant challenge I am facing is how to continue hosting events without the use of StAge or 601. For example, for Freshers’ Week, we need to move all large events to a marquee, which has presented many additional logistical challenges, drawing upon all the experience I have gained over the past year.”
Ms Brook’s dedication to the performing arts extends beyond her role as DoEs. She said, “Beyond my work as a Sabb, I have a real passion for theatre, specifically theatre tech. I have used this hobby and the knowledge gained from it within my sabbatical position. My passion for theatre tech stems from years of being on various tech crews, both at school and in St Andrews. Whenever I go see a show, I often spend more time watching the tech than the performers.”
Sam Gorman: Director of Student Development and Activities
"As Director of Student Development and Activities, I lead on volunteering, awards, funding, employability, fundraising, and supporting student run activities. Alongside the Societies Officer I’m the contact for the 150 societies affiliated to the Union, giving advice on affiliation, hosting events, and funding opportunities within the Union or University. I also oversee the activities based student groups directly funded by the Union like the Charities Campaign and Debates Subcommittee. The other part of my role is focused on student development, and I liaise with the Careers Centre, CEED, and the Entrepreneurial Centre to support students’ employability and recognising the skills they’ve picked up outside of the classroom.
"I want to get students engaged in the volunteering portal, which recognised voluntary work which supports student life in St Andrews. Part of this will involve a relaunch of the portal after a redesign to make it easier to use.
"Since joining the Celtic Society on a whim in my second year, I’ve devoted more of my free time every year to Scottish Country dancing, and continue to attend competitions.”
Photos Provided by The Students' Association