Sunday, 3 August 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different...

So life goes on.

I have left the Guild and now it's time to face the world.

Nearly every Final Year student I have ever met are nervous about graduating. And why not? We all have a logical path to follow in life until graduation. The conveyer belt of education leads us through Nursery, Primary School, Secondary School, Sixth Form, University...

But then the conveyer belt runs out. I was lucky enough to get myself a 'bonus' year at the Guild and put off the real world for a while longer. But now my conveyer belt has run out too.

So what's next?

Well, I had no idea either. Standard gap year? Temp and travel?

But then two Wednesdays ago I was offered a job at Nottingham Students' Union as their RA Development Worker. So I'll be staying in the student movement for a while longer it seems. There's still people to help after all.

So life goes on - and so does the conveyer belt.

I guess I'd be bored if I was standing still :)

The Adventures of Simon Fairbanks continue at!

The End of All Things

" I am glad to be with you, here at the end of all things." - Frodo Baggins, The Return of the King


Friday was a strange day for several reasons.

Firstly, we all woke up and realised that for the first time in 13-months we didn't have to head to the Guild for a meeting. Secondly, we realised that we were no longer Sabbs and our time had come to an end. Thirdly, we were all horrendously hungover and afros, medallions & bits of Abba costume were strewn around the house!

It was also the last day the seven Sabbs were going to be together in one room. Well, at least for a couple of months.

So all in all, I think we finally felt the sadness that we were too drunk to feel the day before.

But there's no sense in moping around.

Myself and Naush (former-VPHC) went to the cinema to see WALL.E and it is now my favourite Pixar film of all time. And then in the evening, Lizzy (former-VPSAD) cooked us all lasagne - the last supper.

Afterwards, we played University of Birmingham Monopoly. Annoyingly, the Guild is only valued at £160. And half of the Community Chest cards are derrogatory towards the Guild, such as: "You were found drunk in the student bar, pay a £100 fine!" Scandal! Maybe I should e-mail the VPDR?

Myself and Naush then went to say goodbye to the campus. And it rained - which really matched our mood.


Saturday was rubbish because I had to say my goodbyes to the Sabbs. We dwindled throughout the morning, which made it harder. It felt like we were being picked off one-by-one.

Rhea went the day before, then Bolt shot off early because she was going to a wedding (not her own), then Will left, then Laura and then me. Naush and Lizzy waved me off.

Driving home, I couldn't believe I was leaving Birmingham. And I couldn't believe I was leaving the Guild. I had spent three years there as a Receptionist & Society member and then one further year there as one of its leaders. Sad times.

But it's in good hands. It has a brand new team, two new Senior Managers starting in a month's time and new governance structures in the form of the Mem & Arts and bye-laws which we all recently passed. I know it has a bright future ahead so I'm not going to worry.


And now it's Sunday. I'm wrapping up this blog and then I will truly draw a line under the most exciting, intense, surprising, rewarding and memorable year of my life.

Without a doubt, the Guild has made me a better person.

I have learnt a vast amount, developed skills in new areas and made some lifelong friends. And a lot of that was before I became an Officer. This past year was my chance to give something back and I really hope that I have helped make life better for our vast membership.

I think about some of the stuff I achieved...

(The Guild is now more environmental, its three-phased Building Redevelopment is green-lit and underway as I type, we achieved our first quorate Referendum in fifteen years, we underwent a successful transition to e-voting, a new website is on its way, Guild Council passed my motion to provide English students with a better provision of Shakespeare texts in the Main Library)

...and I feel glad that I made a difference.

But it's the little things that count more. I like to think I was an approachable Officer, always keen to listen and learn from the students that I helped represent. And I think, ultimately, that is what makes you a good Officer: just being there for the students in their time of need.

Anyway, I could look back and reflect on my Sabbatical year all night (and probably for the rest of my life) but right now it's my fellow Officers that I miss.

So I dedicate this blog to you guys! I love you all and it has been incredibly enjoyable, emotional and rewarding working with each of you.

Stay classy, Guild of Students x

Our Leaving Party --> 70s Superstars on Skates!

There were times during the year that we thought our final day of being Sabbatical Officers would never arrive.

But last Thursday when it did arrive, our final day felt like it had come round too quickly.

Either way, it was an unforgettable end to a phenomenal year! Sabbs and Staff alike were dressed in their finest 70s gear: the girl Sabbs dressed like Abba and the boy Sabbs kitted out in afros and medallions.

The Guild had also arranged a surprise for us! We expected the BBQ but no-one anticipated the theme of our social... a roller-disco in the Underground!

We therefore spent the afternoon skating around in circles to various 70s soundtracks. There were a few slips and trips (and I was rubbish) but it was awesome fun.

The Guild were very generous and got us a selection of gifts, including a signed picture frame, a poem written by our PA and an engraved bookmark. In return, we bought our General Manager an engraved pen and left a poem of our own - which I wrote but can't remember! It's in the Staff Room of the Guild if you're interested.

After the celebrations at the Guild, we headed out and followed the standard Guild pattern: Gunnies, Revolution, Flares, Tap & Spile.
It was an epic day!
Thank you to all the Staff who organised the party and celebrated with us! It has been a pleasure working with you all.

The New VPDR!

Well, it's Sunday 3rd August and after a manic final week, I am now no longer the VPDR.
But a quiet Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect time to wrap up this blog.
So, exciting times, you now have a new VPDR - Hannah Lazell!
We have spent all of July handing over to our Elects and I have been passing on to Hannah everything that I know (or at least everything that I can remember). Her handover folder is nice & chunky and Hannah has inherited all of my old files. Plus, naturally, she is the new owner of the giant inflatable letters!
Hannah will be an amazing VPDR and has a whole host of quality experience and expertise in the Guild of Students, including a year as an Independent Chair, several years on Guild Council and much volunteering with Kids Adventure. She has also experienced life as a Post-Graduate and studied abroad for a year in New Zealand!
Her campaigns for the year include:-
  • a review of Guild Council, especially how it will fit into the new University College structure.
  • consulting students about the design of the Guild's new bar.
  • supporting the EEO to help reduce the Guild's carbon footprint.
  • working with the VPSAD to ensure student bands can perform at the Guild.
  • and, of course, increasing voter turnout and encouraging more candidates to run in Guild elections!
The new Officer team moved into our/their offices on Friday. They have also started up their blogs - check 'em out now!
Good luck, Hannah - you will have an awesome year.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Signing Over

This morning we signed the relevant legal documents to dissolve the old Guild and form a new Guild, Limited by Guarantee with shiny new governance structures and a lean, coherent Constitution.

It was a historic - and slightly boring - moment.

I was half expecting fireworks or champagne but it was a short, simple, five-minute job.

Nevertheless, we were all happy to know that it was finally over: a new Guild has been formed!

The official creation of the Guild is tomorrow at midnight, smack bang in the middle of our leaving party. Maybe we'll get that champagne after all!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Sabb N Wedding!

Last Saturday, myself and Will Bastin (Vice-President of Sport) went to our mate Ben's wedding in the mighty Nottingham.

Will was an usher and I was a mess!

And it got me thinking. Being married is a lot like being in a Sabb team.

  • There's always lots of bickering.
  • You share a bank account (for stationery).
  • You have to remain faithful to each other, even if you disagree with decisions.
  • You're stick together (especially in Guild Council) in sickness and in health.
  • Eventually you have kids (Elects) and have to teach them the ways of the world.

You also kind of get the feeling that you're married for life and I just know that after the 1st of August I'm still going to be e-mailing the Sabbs daily!


Monday, 28 July 2008

Baroness Morgan

Last Wednesday, I met my second Baroness in five days!

The Baroness this time was Baroness Morgan and she had asked the NUS to arrange for a group of students to meet with her at DIUS (Department for Innovation, University & Skills) in London to discuss reducing carbon emissions.

We basically sat down and talked to Baroness Morgan about the environmental initiatives that take place in the student movement. These included descriptions on Sound Impact, Carbon Academy and NUSSL's other upcoming schemes, such as the coca-cola-sponsored Equipment Efficiency Scheme.

The Baroness was very interested to hear about all of our best practise.

Unfortunately, the meeting was quite poorly-structured and nothing was decided by the end. It felt like more of a conversation than a meeting with clear action points for moving ahead.

But a conversation is better than talking to yourself. Hopefully, more meetings will follow with Baroness Morgan and the DIUS, meaning that students are leading the initiatives to prevent climate change.