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.

  • Fri 12 May 2017 13:21

    The easiest way to lose power is to not realise you had it to begin with Anon

    Students occupy what can often be a precarious position in politics. Despite falling under the same generic label - “student” - we are in fact an extremely diverse group made up of many demographics, nationalities and desires. We do not always choose the same route to making our voices heard, nor do we always coordinate our efforts. Being at university means that we are also a transient population, residing in the Midlands for three years or more, yet often only situated here for periods of 10-11 weeks at a time.

    All of these things can make it difficult for students to have a consistent voice in politics. Worryingly, however, the 18-24 year-olds of this country are starting to become a generation which is used to not getting what it voted for - the constant Brexit negotiation updates acting as a particularly stark reminder that 75% of 18-24 year-olds voted to remain in the EU. We, for one, are therefore incredibly worried about a growing apathy amongst the student population. Time and again, many of us turn out to vote but find our voices marginalised on issues that affect young people more severely (and for much longer) than older demographics, whose higher turnout - and opposing voting records – seem to be delivered upon each time.

    This picture may seem bleak, but we are confident that we can turn the situation around. The issue that 18-24 year-olds have is turnout - if we can get our peers to vote, we become both a priority for politicians and a key interest group in national decision-making. We should NOT be passive bystanders in our own futures - we need to get savvy and become active participants in the decisions which affect us. Not only do students represent a significant proportion of local constituencies, but an increase of just 30% in the 18-24 vote could be enough to influence the entire General Election.

    As Warwick University’s Vice Chancellor, Stuart Croft shares with the Students’ Union a belief in the power of students as active participants in our democracy and key players in the decision-making processes of our communities, our region and our country. Professor Croft and I have worked closely to overcome the 2014 changes to Individual Voter Registration, which wiped thousands of our students off the electoral register overnight. When students enrol for University next year, they will be able to register to vote there and then - making the process both easier and more accessible. Until then, however, you need to do it the old fashioned way, by taking two minutes to fill out this form: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

    As well as not realising the power of our demographic as a voting bloc, the student voice is also hampered by the many misconceptions around who is eligible to vote and frequent misunderstandings around voter registration. Therefore, let us try to provide some clarity on the restrictions!

    • For the upcoming General Election on June 8th, the deadline to register to vote is Monday 22nd May.
    • You are eligible to vote if you are over 18, a British Citizen or qualifying Commonwealth Citizen, or a Citizen of the Republic of Ireland and you are not subject to any legal incapacity to vote. This means that people from Australia, India, Jamaica, South Africa, Singapore, Pakistan, Nigeria, Malaysia, Kenya and many more qualifying Commonwealth Countries are all eligible to vote in the upcoming election!
    • For home students, you can register to vote at BOTH your home and term-time addresses, as long as you only vote in ONE of those constituencies. This gives you time, once registered in both places, to decide where you think your vote counts the most – for example, which seat is less ‘safe’.
    • You need to re-register EVERY TIME YOU CHANGE ADDRESS. So, even if you registered to vote in the EU Referendum, you must re-register to vote in the General Election if you have moved house since. If you are unsure whether you’ve registered in your new address, CHECK by clicking the above link and updating your details. Don’t miss out on having your say!

      Brexit. Higher Education reform. Increased tuition fees. Freedom of movement. International visas. The rising cost of living. Future employment opportunities. The environment. Think the issues underpinning this General Election don’t apply to you? Think again.

      The decisions taken this June will have far-reaching implications not just for current and future generations of students, but for current and future generations, period. Right now, we are the future of this country, and thus have a duty to help formulate the discussion. Let’s start acting like major stakeholders in the UK – we are a group which has both the power to influence decisions, and which deserves to be heard.

      The belief in the power of our generation starts with YOU. Encourage your friends, colleagues, siblings, peers - even random youths on the U1! - to register to vote, because the power to influence this election is in our hands. The biggest threat to the strength of our voice is not realising it existed in the first place.

    Becky Gittins (Warwick SU Democracy & Development Officer) &
    Stuart Croft (Warwick University Vice-Chancellor)

     

Becky's Election

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