Becky GittinsDemocracy & Development Officer

Hi! I’m Becky, your Democracy and Development Officer.

I’m responsible for running All Student Meetings, Autumn Elections and Officer Elections. I am looking forward to exploring different methods of widening participation with SU democracy – in particular, I’m keen to make SU democracy seem less bureaucratic (read: boring!) and more accessible or appealing to a wider range of students.

The development side of role concerns the SU outlets (The Terrace Bar, The Bread Oven, Curiositea, Xananas, The Dirty Duck and The Copper Rooms) and making sure they are run in the interests of students. One of my priorities this year will be looking to establish a Warwick Foodbank to tackle the massive food waste issue we have on campus.

Finally, I know not everyone is as enthralled by quorums and procedural motions as some of us democracy-loving SU types - I’m also aware that the acronyms and confusing titles sometimes make getting involved feel like learning a new language, but it’s actually really simple and you shouldn’t feel daunted. My door is always open to anyone who wants to know a bit more about the enigma that is the SU and how to get involved!

Contact Becky

The Democracy & Development Officer's office is on the top floor of SUHQ.

Becky's Latest Blog

Find all of Becky's blog posts on her blog page.

  • Thu 26 Jan 2017 13:19

    Cardboard is disappearing from all over campus, there’s a faint but undeniable whiff of paint, sales of Gorilla tape have increased tenfold and there have been several sightings of what can only be described as a giant, orange hamster. This can mean only one thing…

    Nominations are now open for the Officer Elections

    …as well as Part-Time Officer, NUS Delegate and Undergraduate Faculty Rep elections!

    Speaking from my experience of being your Democracy and Development Officer for the past 5 months, I can honestly tell you that there’s no job quite like being a Sabb. More importantly, though - and contrary to popular belief! – there is also no one type of person who runs for election or, indeed, who makes for the best Sabb. My own route to becoming your DDO is proof of that.

    This time last year, I was in the same position as many of you. Although I had helped run a society, I was not an SU “insider” in any way. I had never been a member of Student Council, had never served on an SU Exec, and was not a regular attendee of All Student Meetings. Voting in Elections and Referenda was about as far as my ‘official’ engagement with the SU went outside of attending the occasional Skool Dayz or grabbing lunch at The Bread Oven.

    I was also facing uncertainty about my future, feeling downtrodden by job applications and looming deadlines, and desperate to have some sort of plan for after Graduation. Standing for election was the start of me getting back to myself and refocusing on what I thought was most important.

    The first event I attended when I decided to stand for DDO was the Candidate Briefing, where I was asked to write a letter to myself which would be given back to me on elections night, just before the results were announced. I wrote to myself:

    “Whatever happens tonight, you have only GAINED from this experience. You’ve run a campaign, written a manifesto and given speeches, and you’ve gained so many invaluable skills. Most importantly, you’ve seen all of the people you’ve helped and supported throughout university come out and work on your campaign because they believe in YOU.”

    The possibility of losing an election is a particularly difficult thing to weigh up when deciding whether to stand but, crucially, I knew it didn’t change what I had written in my letter. Regardless of the eventual outcome, I knew that the campaign period would help me to refocus my energies by really making me think about what I want to do and what I’m good at. There’s definitely something about having to pitch yourself to 24,000 students which helps you get to grips with your own strengths and talents! As a confidence-building exercise, it really is second-to-none - I can honestly tell you that the experience of campaigning was overwhelmingly positive, and I’m so glad that I didn’t let a fear of not winning put me off.

    Now a little bit about the job itself! Being a Sabb gives you a platform to get students’ voices heard and our opinions listened to. People who are driven by a sense of mission will relish the opportunity to use this platform to represent others and drive forward much-needed improvements on campus. Having something to fight for helps you to find the motivation that gets you through even the most tiring days as a Sabbatical Officer!

    On top of this, you’re the director of a multi-million pound charity and will become an SU and University trustee, gaining experience of high-profile committees and liaising with hugely influential university figures and lay trustees. You gain experience of finance, HR and customer service as well as Higher Education policy, both in a university and national context. You also get free reign and huge responsibilities right from the offset, and balance all of this while implementing creative projects and individual initiatives - all while effortlessly delivering a student-facing role!

    Do Sabbatical Officers actually make a difference in the lives of students? The answer is an emphatic YES. In addition to the daily business of representing students through ongoing projects and individual case-work, here are just a few of the major achievements and campaigns that Sabb teams have worked on over the last few years:

    • 24 hour library
    • Stopping tuition fee rises for current students
    • Week Zero – lecture-free Welcome Week
    • Creative Warwick
    • Varsity
    • Fair Pay for Postgrad Teachers
    • ‘Are You OK?’ Campaign
    • Divest from Fossil Fuels
    • The Intervention Initiative
    • Higher Education campaigns

    You don’t need to have been planning your campaign since you were a Fresher to stand as an Officer candidate; in fact, you may not have ever considered the idea before. This honestly doesn’t matter to students when you’re out campaigning – the only thing that matters is what sort of person you are, and what you can bring to the table. Whether you’re an inspiring young activist and change-maker or someone who’s never been involved in student politics but feels that there are areas for improvement in life here at Warwick, we want to hear from YOU.

    Former Sabbatical Officers at Warwick have gone on to become barristers, headhunters, Chief Executives of voluntary-sector organisations, partners in accounting and consultancy firms, policy advisors, senior civil servants, stand-up comedians, teachers, NHS managers, senior charity fundraising managers, senior charity policy advisors and entrepreneurs running their own businesses.  Whatever type of student you are, you have something to bring to the table as a potential Sabbatical or Part-Time Officer. Even if you have no SU experience and hadn’t previously seen yourself in a role like this, why not give it a go? We’ll also be electing Warwick delegates for the 2017 NUS National Conference this term if you’re interested in being part of the wider conversation around Higher Education in the UK.

    Take the first steps by coming to speak to the Sabbatical Officers on the top floor of SUHQ, visit our ‘Be The Candidate’ sessions in week 4 (for women, BAME, LGBT+, international, postgrad and disabled students), email democracy@warwicksu.com for more info or just take the plunge straight away by nominating yourself here: https://www.warwicksu.com/elections/nominate-yourself/. And if the idea isn’t your cup of tea but you think there’s someone who’d be well-suited to an Officer position, why not recommend a friend? Email their name and the position you think they’d be good at (optional) to democracy@warwicksu.com and we will contact them with the information about standing for election. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it all anonymous!

    Nominations close at Noon on 14th February. Making the decision to stand could end up changing your life – it certainly did for me!

Becky's Election

The election for Democracy & Development Officer takes place during the Officer Elections in term 2.