Guest blog: 6 things you should know before running to be an SU Officer

This post was written by Ana Gabriela Popa, Sheffield Students’ Union International Officer


Do you want to become an SU Officer? Here are 6 things you MUST know before running: (Spoiler: unofficial Officers’ quotes included – I promise an entertaining read!

1 – Know what an SU Officer is.

It’s hard to describe the role of an SU Officer. It means you can be a representative of students, a trustee board member of an amazing organisation, you can run your own portfolio projects which you have been mandated to do, and you can be an activist for the issues you are passionate about. Of course, there is no proper definition or representation of what your year will actually look like, but just imagine this: you will be able to properly fight for and achieve things you are passionate about. Isn’t that enough of a definition to go for it? As Em Roche, Sports Officer, usually says: ‘it’s sick’ (apparently, “sick” in English can mean cool #InternationalOfficerProblems).

2 – Know what you want to achieve and for whom.

I hope the job description above has already hyped you for running. Now it’s time for some information on how to win the game. This is a competition. You always run against someone else, even if it’s only RON (Re-Open Nominations). If you want to win, if you want people to vote for you, then you must know what you want to achieve and for whom. Your student peers will probably vote for you for all kinds of different reasons, but probably the most powerful one will be that they can identify with what you’re proposing, whether that’s free printing, a safe campus, the prioritisation of mental health, cheaper bus fares, a quiet zone, free Wednesday afternoons, guarantor schemes, a fossil-free Union, banning unethical companies from trading through the SU, consent campaigns or, as Anna Berestova, Activities Officer, puts it ‘activities, activities, activities’.

(Check out some of the current Officers’ achievements here for inspiration on what you could do or check out our blogs.)

3 – Know that there is no secret to success.

Education Officer Ali Day’s favourite quote is ‘you do you’ and it is particularly relevant here. Some students know from their first days of university that they will run for an Officer position and calculate all their work and involvement in committees based on that. Some people decide to do it two hours before the deadline. Some people have large campaign teams of around 10 individuals. Others go campaigning solo. Some people like to do intensive door knocking. Some like lecture shout outs. Others prefer to do a mixture. Truth is: we had winners from all these categories. There was no single path to success. Maybe there was, though, a certain element they had in common: they did not give up! You need to be either strong enough to do a solo campaign or surround yourself with friends that will pick you up on the gloomy days. Regardless of which, if you can regain that strength and keep pushing in what you believe, you will stand a pretty good chance of winning.

4 – Know that you are relevant in the race, no matter the results.

Forget for a second about the results day and think about the race. You might run against RON, you might run against 8 other candidates – one thing is for sure: during interviews, debates, campaigning, your voice will matter because it will set the tone in the room. You will definitely have views that are different in certain ways from your counter-candidates so play on your strengths and acknowledge how your presence in the race made the debate take a turn it probably wouldn’t if you weren’t there. Plus, each year, the organisation pays attention to all candidates’ manifestos to grasp better our students’ interests. You’re basically writing history without knowing it, so embrace the challenge and your importance. As Dom Trendall, SU President, repeatedly says: ‘what a time to be alive’ (I should stop inserting quotes from my team members, but it’s hilariously relevant, so take advantage of it and run in elections).  

5 – Know that you are unique and you should not compare yourself to others.

I know, I know – you’re probably thinking: ‘she talks about all sorts of fluffy stuff from her privileged winner position. She’s probably forgotton all the stress. She probably compared herself so many times too.’ I did and that’s why I’m telling you not too. Because I ran twice for this position and the first time I lost and it was one of the most hurtful experiences in my life. I felt desperate to compare what I had done and think: what was it that made one person better? It took me a while to realise that it just wasn’t my time, it wasn’t me that people identified with – that’s all. Not because I wasn’t good enough, but because I wasn’t what the students needed at that time. And when I ran again, it took me quite an effort and strength to sit down and take a break if my counter-candidates were out campaigning. It took strength not to ask myself whether they had done more than me that day and to instead focus on me doing as much as I could. Because doing as much as you can is more than enough. ‘You are gorgeoooous’ (Anna Mullaney, Welfare Officer). You really are.

6 – Know that you are important [full stop].

Your views are important. Your desire to help other students is important. Your belief that you can create change and lead this organisation is important. Beyond the race, beyond the results, beyond the path you’re going down, if you think you can actually represent your peers to achieve the best possible student experience, then you should do it! You should run in this election and you should make history! Because you can, because you are worth it, because you are important!

In conclusion, what do we say to SU Elections?

My last quote and the answer to the above question will be a joint reaction from Serena Cavasin, Women’s Officer and Michael Kind, Development Officer:

‘Yaaaaaaaaas’.

So get geared for running! And re-read this blog for inspiration if you need it!

For more information on becoming a candidate, visit sheffieldsu.com/elections.

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