Sabb Special: Joe McLo, VP Communications

SUSU’s Rupert Murdoch, aka Joe McLo, tells The Tab about his time as a Sabb.

In this part of our Sabbs specials we spoke to Joe McLo, SUSU’s very own Rupert Murdoch AKA VP Communications.

Below is a summary of Joe’s manifesto, but click here for the full thing.

  • Improving the website so students can easily find information required
  • Focus target of media
  • Media training
  • Make SUSU democracy more transparent

The SUSU website has been upgraded to make it easier to use but there are still several sections which are difficult to navigate. A great example of this is that to find the current Sabb team, users must click through several pages for information which surely should be on the homepage.

Of course, us Tab writers are well known for our love/hate relationship with the Wessex Scene. We would however be the first to admit that the magazine has become much better now it has opted to focus on comment and features rather than trying to do everything under the sun. SUSUtv, SURGE and The Edge have also gone from strength to strength this year, with SUSUtv narrowly missing out on a host of awards and SURGE being a viable alternative to internet radio with their facebook app making it much easier to request songs. Joe must take a little credit for giving the relevant heads of departments the support they needed to make these decisions and the money required to achieve them.

Democracy and transparency has been much improved, Union Council meeting minutes are online quickly and simply labelled to make them understandable. This is a niche area for all of us SUSU geeks who want to know what’s happening so we can tell you readers about any important upcoming issues. Thus the improvement in this area has been greatly appreciated by all editors of the Soton Tab!

What are you happy about achieving this year?

What am I happy about? Nothing! No, I’m not a happy person so… I’m happy we’re the most transparent union with democracy and elections and things. The constitution is online, we’re on our way to being a charity, and minutes are online fairly quickly. Financial information is out there and anyone can view them and it’s probably the easiest to find in the country. That’s probably a niche impact rather than campus wide.

I’m also really happy with the social media interaction. Rather than just putting up posters we can check how many people are seeing and sharing things. If we send out a message we can see who views it and how wide the range is. Doesn’t mean much to people on the ground but it’s useful for the VP Comms. Now we just need the University to sort out its internal communications and interacting with students.

The website needs to be sorted still but it’s on its way and will take a couple of years to reach a point of being finished, but I’m happy with how it’s going and my involvement.

Is there anything you’re not proud of having done this year?

Haven’t got involved in the Soton Tab which is a bit of a shocker! Ha, no. There’s parts that you only know when you’ve finished, about time management and your resources and how you spend it. Time is your main resource, as you’ve only got a year and I could have used my time more constructively. I’ve been to university meetings that I could have done better. Democracy has taken a lot of time and maybe I could have spent more time on comms and media which affects a wider section of the student body.

I’ve probably spent more time on democracy then any Sabb in the past and you could probably argue that I should have focused more on the other sections of my role.

Was this swung by the fact that such a large section of the Sabb team were involved in the elections?

Definitely, also by the fact that we’re trying to become a charity. The nature of the year is such. If you’d asked me 12 months ago if I felt my time would be split like this I’d have said no – it’s good work but I should maybe have spent less operational time on it. It’s only the last few months I’ve started working on the website and trying to sort that out. It’s not a regret, just if I was here another year I’d do it differently and probably got involved less operationally and more with the strategic side of things.

I don’t think there’s one massive mistake I’ve made, just a few small things I’d change if I was continuing in the role.

If you had another year like Shane, Sasha and Sam, what would you love to achieve?

I’d love to get a concrete figure for the number of students involved in the Union, either through clubs, societies or even out on Friday nights. Find that number and then compare it year on year and say ‘well more people have gone to Union films, campaigned etc’, and then be able to benchmark this and look into the figures and see how the University is cost effective and that the money being spent is helping more students year on year.

We’ve only been looking at the elections the last couple of years and the amount of data from that is so useful to be able to analyse what’s happening across the university.

If you stayed: Yes or No to NUS?

Still haven’t made up my mind to be honest. Do I think NUS is a good thing? Yes. Will it make a difference to SUSU, probably not. That’s the balance I need to make in my head.

Are there any bombshells for your successor Mr Gilani to stumble across?

Yeah, deleting all my emails, all my contacts. No, there’s nothing that bad. You need to learn what you’re doing.  When you interact with the University you need to know what you want to get out of it. And what you think your role is. Are you making it better? Pointing out problems? Being the criticising person in the corner or leaving it alone and focusing on SUSU? Those are the decisions to be made. But no, there’s nothing major.

Wessex Scene or Soton Tab?

Wessex Scene obviously… *Awkward silence* Well, I can’t say anything else!

Final question, would you rather spend the rest of your life as a Sabb or lick the Jesters floor after a night out?

Well I’ve already licked it… You’re presuming being a Sabb for life is a bad thing! I’ve kissed it as well. One Monday night I ran in, kissed it and got a job that night as well!

So, it’s been a busy year for Joe but most of what he’s worked on has been behind the scenes – particularly improving democracy and elections but then switching his attention to SUSU’s website and social media influence but we’d have loved to have seen some of his manifesto points come true. However, we have had a great working relationship with Joe all year which is the main role of a VP Comms Sabb, despite The Tab having no affiliation with SUSU!

Tab Verdict: Success