Brookes student union will always be a bore
Andre Rhoden-Paul has a few issues with the student union.
At some universities, the student union is busy and the place to be on campus. SU elections are a big deal, students pack out their cheap bars and attend club nights in huge numbers.
Quite frankly the same cannot be said for Brookes.
Instead Brookes Student Union has the prestige of being voted 2012’s worst SU in England. In the National Student Satisfaction survey just 39% of Brookes students were satisfied with their SU compared with a national average of 66%.
In shocking comparison is Sheffield University where 95% of respondents were satisfied with their SU. It is consistently ranked as the best in the country.
Some blame the loss of Brookes Union’s club night in 2008 due to increasing city centre competition for its poor rating. The closure of Moral’s bar, formerly at Clive Booth, in 2012 also worsened already lacking sense of student community.
Either way the Helena Kennedy Student Centre remains a dull and uninspiring place, hardly somewhere students want to hang out or go to society meetings.
If you ask most students at Brookes, their only encounter with the student union has been a drunken ride on the safety bus and collecting a million freebies at freshers fair.
This boredom has started to affect voting at the student elections. Only 2,310 of you voted last year, just 9% of the uni’s 23,195 undergrad and postgrad students. Meanwhile you could count the number of students who attended the Annual General Meeting on one hand.
Let’s face it, most students at Brookes care about getting a good degree, student housing and a good night out.
However some student politicians at the SU would rather attack ‘lad culture’, make policies on which guest speakers are allowed at society meetings and debate the Israeli-Palestine conflict twenty-three-thousand miles away.
Most of these elected bureaucrats are largely faceless. I dare you to name one of these officers or a NUS Conference Delegate. We only see their names pop up during the SU elections.
It is impossible to hold them accountable when they don’t communicate with the student body and tell us what they are doing.
Encouragingly the election of Joel Holmes saw a thorough and much needed re-branding of student union. They have vastly increased the visibility of societies and subject reps.
With a splash of questionable orange, they finally ventured out of their ivory tower at the Helena Kennedy Centre and have tried to engage students with their ‘Here to help you’ and ‘Don’t rent yet’ campaigns.
‘Don’t rent yet’ is great in theory but is seriously flawed because the student housing market in Oxford is so competitive. Often the best houses are snapped up before Christmas.
The move to the John Henry Brookes building may however help to increase their presence on campus and usefulness to students.
But whatever they do, Brookes student union will always be boring. It will never ever be a party throwing, fun loving union like highly rated Leeds or Sheffield. However the guys in orange might have a small hope of engaging with the student body if they stick to issues that have a direct impact on student life.