What it means to me: being a subject rep
The role of a subject rep is to represent your cohort’s views on either good or bad issues concerning the course, lectures, assignments, or even general university issues. Therefore, when receiving a query from a student, it is either your responsibility to handle this with the people involved in resolving the query, or navigating the student to additional resources which can aid their solution. The end goal is to make sure all students are satisfied with their course and have the support that they need otherwise.
When I first took up my role of being a rep for the uni, I didn’t ever expect to be as stressful as it is currently. Amongst the wades of messages from dissatisfied/confused students. as well as the level of formality I am not used to sending in e-mails, it isn’t all doom and gloom. I’m going to be going through what I find rewarding and what I feel isn’t worth the inevitable hassle. After all, it’s always nice to be informed if you’re looking to go into this position yourself in the future!
1) Along with your studies, to be a good student rep you must be in tune to the needs of students (either directly or indirectly)
Let me give you an example (may or may not be hypothetical). My cohort are in a lecture around the same time that a set of results come out. It turns out that during the lecture a lot of students are upset, disheartened or even angry about the result not reflecting the amount of work they’ve done. As a subject rep, you know that this will result in lots of individual messages to department, as well as people keeping quiet because they don’t want their views to be potentially disregarded. As a result, even though nothing has been cued to you directly, you should message the general cohort asking that if they have a problem regarding these results, they should message you so it can go in a massive e-mail to department. Yeah, okay, you’re phone then blows up with lengthy messages you have to reply to – but the reward is knowing that a resolution will come out of it is pretty much worth the effort (even if it is draining and stressful).
2) You’ll never please everyone
If you look at a student rep as a middle man between student and staff, there’s never going to be a solution that fully pleases both parties. Ever. If course, you have to try and make sure the people involved aren’t still as worried, concerned or stressed as they initially were (otherwise, at least in my opinion, you haven’t tried your best) – but, it’s never going to go everyone’s way. Thus, it’s always best to leave your best interests out of it, even if it’s for something that you believe passionately for or against, otherwise you may get hurt if it’s the result you don’t want.
3) It drains you excruciatingly
There’s no beating around the bush with this one. Unless you’ve been blessed with the best department AND student body known to man, you’re going to have hellish moments. The worst is when you’re busy doing something of high importance, or even just relaxing and not wanting to have anyone disturb you – if there’s a query, you bet that there’s not going to be any rest for you until it’s solved.
1) People are genuinely thankful for the work that you do
Whether the praise is from staff or students, whenever an issue is dealt with in the appropriate manner, a thank you is normally passed on from both parties. Although it’s not a lot, from my perspective it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, and that’s always nice to know, right?
2) It’s something fab to add to the CV
Think about it this way, is anyone else representing your cohort this year? Exactly. It’s something that distinguishes you from the rest of the cohort, and it shows great leadership and team-working skills as well. Go you!
3) Attending meetings with higher academics (*cough* and free food *cough*)
One of the most enjoyable bits of being a subject rep is having my say in meetings. To know that I have a stronger voice that not only represents me, but the rest of my cohort, makes me feel like real differences can be made to academic issues. Also, getting more pally with your department is never a bad thing, they’ll actually know your name! Also, free food during and after meetings as a lovely incentive for the hard work you’ve done!
Til next time. x