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The University of Southampton

Humanities graduates make an impact on the students

Published: 17 December 2010
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Former students of the Faculty of Humanities have taken almost all the top jobs at Southampton University Students’ Union (SUSU) this year.

Historian Billy FitzJohn has been elected President and is joined by fellow historians Charlotte Woods (VP Media and Comms) and Rob Stanning (VP Academic Affairs). English graduate Emily Rees (VP Welfare and Societies) and Film Studies graduate Teddy Wilkes (Athletics Union AU President) are also part of the top team. The remaining sabbatical officer is Fine Art graduate Charlene Batchelor who is President of Winchester School of Art.

Billy feels studying History has helped him settle into his new job quickly.“Over the last three years, I’ve had to work in small groups where you may not necessarily know many people, but you still have to engage in opinion and debate on the current topic. As SUSU President, I’m now in this atmosphere all of the time. I think my experience explaining and arguing in history seminars definitely made me more confident in expressing my ideas.” He first got involved with the Students Union in his first year at Southampton and was a member of Union Council throughout his studies.

Running the Students’ Union is challenging. Its trading turnover is more than £4million with turnover for the whole Union around £7 million. The Union also has an established staff team of over 100 and more than 300 temporary and student staff to help the Executive support and entertain around 25,000 students across several campuses. Current activities include fighting the Government’s planned funding cuts, making sure students have their voices heard and arranging a referendum on re-joining the National Union of Students.

“There is plenty of pressure and responsibility, as we all want to do the best we can for today’s students at Southampton,” says Charlotte. She is enjoying being part of a major organisation and is sure the experience will help her in the search for a good job when her year in office is over. She too feels the skills of analysis learned in History classes are valuable in her current role.“I first got involved with the Students’ Union when I ran for an editor’s post with our newspaper and got elected. It changed my life.”

Billy, Charlotte and the rest of the sabbatical team want to encourage undergraduates and postgraduates in Humanities and elsewhere to become active with SUSU and help them make a difference.

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