The Brookes Union
Elections Online handbook

If you’re reading this, then we hope it’s because you’re interested in working with the Union.

And good news… Even if you don’t know much about the Students’ Union, you can still become one. You don’t need loads of experience - just ideas! In the next 15 minutes or so, you’ll become an expert on all things Students' Union, Officers and election process - So have a browse through this online handbook!

More detailed advice and training will be available to candidates once a nomination is submitted.

Apply for one of the positions Not quite sure? Express your interest

The Students’ Union - What is it?

Students’ Union - What is it?

‘What is a Students’ Union? - That’s a very good question. In short, Brookes Union is a democracy. Which is all well and good, but what does that actually mean? Well, we exist for one reason - To support, represent, inspire and help make your student life better at Brookes. Now you may be thinking this isn’t something directly related to you or that you haven’t associated with us before. But hold that thought, because we're actually part of so many students' lives and often you might not even realise it!

If you’ve attended a Freshers’ Fair, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’re part of one of our student networks, you’ve engaged with the Union, If you’re part of a society, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’re one of our student reps, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’ve spoken to one of our advisors, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’ve been involved with one of our campaigns, you’ve engaged with the Union. If you’ve responded to one of our surveys, you’ve engaged with the Union.

Even if you haven’t actively done something directly with the Union you have likely benefited from the work of the Students' Union. In fact, we’ve done so much over the years that we've had to put together a wall of wins to keep track of them!

Union Officers - Who are they and why do we have them?

Union Officers - Why do we have them? What are they? When can you be one?

Without Student Officers, Unions wouldn’t exist. Students would have no voice and your time at University would certainly be very different (and we’re not just talking about changes due to the pandemic). You can run for a paid Sabbatical Officer (or Sabb for short) role in the year after you graduate, or by taking a year out of your studies. Or, if you’re studying with us next year, you can run for one of our voluntary Portfolio Officer roles or NUS Delegate positions, which you take on alongside your studies.

Sabbatical Officers

In short - They lead the Students' Union and represent 18,000 students (and are paid for it!). They direct what we do in order to support you in every aspect of your University experience - Not only academically, but socially and personally. In other words, they’re a boss! To ensure every aspect is covered, each Sabb role comes with its own responsibilities which you can find out more about in the ‘Available positions’ section.

Portfolio Officers

They are volunteers who give their own time, around their studies, to represent you and focus on key areas of student life that they’re passionate about. They speak up for different parts of the student body and represent students from specific demographics, or with specific interests. Each role comes with its own responsibilities, which you can find out more about in the ‘Available positions’ section.

*There are certain roles which a student may only run for if they self-define into the group which they wish to represent.

Students’ Union Elections - Who, What, Why?

Students’ Union Elections - Who, What, Why?

Elections happen every year at all Students’ Unions around the country. Why? It gives the student body the opportunity to decide who they want to represent them for the next academic year.

Around this time of year, we run our elections where you or any Brookes Students can stand for a position, run a campaign and try to get elected by a student vote. You can find out more about the process and election timeline in the "Elections Timeline" section of this handbook. In short, elections are a pretty big deal!

You’re running an election... During a pandemic?!

You’re running an election... During a pandemic?!

Nothing about this academic year has been ordinary, but at Brookes Union, we’re continuing to do everything we can to support you, and our elections are no different - Even during a pandemic!

We understand that you may still be thinking, ‘Why are they still running the Union Elections with everything that’s currently going on?’ Well, it’s that time of year again where we look for a new Officer team and in short - Without Student Officers, Unions’ wouldn’t exist. And what would that mean? Well you’d have no voice, nobody to represent you and so your time at University would be very different, even more so than it is now.

So first and foremost, our priority for this year's elections is ensuring they’re delivered in a safe and covid-secure way, with student safety being our first priority. So how will they work then? The elections will be entirely online with no physical campaigning and so all associated events such as workshops, training, candidate question time and results will be hosted online.

All in all, the elections may feel slightly different to previous years, but we're confident that we can still deliver an exciting, engaging and fair election. And if you’re considering running (good choice), there will be plenty of support available and some great training lined up to help boost your digital skills, in preparation for this online election!

Positions up for Election

Positions up for Election

There are...

  • 4x full- time officer positions (paid)
  • 10x part-time portfolio officer roles (voluntary)
  • 2x part-time Union roles (voluntary)

Sabbatical Officer Positions

What you’ll get as a Sabbatical Officer:

  • £20,130, 25 days holiday, plus bank holidays and concessionary days!
  • Extensive training and development, and the opportunity to undertake additional training when you need it.
  • Support from a team of dedicated full-time staff.

You’ll not only be the public facing spokesperson for Brookes Union, but the Deputy Chair of the Union’s Board of Trustees, a Director and a University Governor. Now that’s an impressive addition to your CV already right? You’ll be responsible for providing the leadership and direction of the Students’ Union and for working with the University to ensure that students' views are represented at the highest level. You’ll work closely with the Chief Executive, directly overseeing Union activities and operations and take a lead on Union Development.

VP Student Voice

You’ll be the main liaison between the faculties and the Students' Union, sitting on a wide range of University Committees. You’ll lead on academic matters with the University, champion student voice and represent all things teaching and learning. Having the best academic experience is a top of priority and this role can challenge the University, to make sure students get just that. You will also support the Union’s 400+ academic representatives.

VP Wellbeing

You’ll be leading campaigns and projects to improve student experience relating to welfare: health & wellbeing, equality & diversity and student support services. With over 18,000 students studying at Brookes, this role is vital in ensuring every student is supported. You’ll work closely with both the Brookes Union Advice Service and the University, to ensure there’s adequate welfare provision and support for students. It’ll be your mission to make sure they have access to the support they need for the issues they face.

VP Activities & Employability

You’ll lead on all matters relating to active student involvement with the Students’ Union. This role has the unique opportunity to not only support, but collaborate with thousands of students, as you’ll be working closely with our 100+ societies. You’ll encourage student involvement with the Union, volunteering and help support students personal development and employability during their time at Brookes.

Portfolio Officer Positions

BIPOC Students Officer

You'll be representing black, indiginous, people of color within the Students’ Union. You'll be working closely with societies like ACS, Filipino Society, Latino Society, Malaysian society, to run events and campaigns, celebrating diversity at Brookes, and tackling racism.

Black Students’ Officer

You'll be representing black students within the Students’ Union. That could be running campaigns which educate staff and students about discrimination, or supporting national campaigns for black students' representation.

Disabled Students’ Officer

You’ll be campaigning on key issues facing disabled students - whether that’s wheelchair access or better mental health support. You’ll be making sure all the services and support options at Brookes are working for students.

Environmental Officer

You’ll be leading the Union’s work on environmental matters, ethical issues and sustainability. From promoting Fairtrade Fortnight to campaigning for a coffee cup recycling scheme on campus, you’ll be making sure Brookes leads the way.

International Students’ Officer

You’ll be campaigning on key issues facing International Students. From getting involved with One World Week to working to combat ‘culture shock’, you’ll be making sure international students are supported at Brookes.

LGBTQ+ Students’ Officer

You’ll be campaigning on key issues facing LGBTQ+ students. - whether that is focusing on mental health or celebrating LGBT+ History Month. You’ll make sure that all services at Brookes work for LGBT+ students.

Mature Students’ Officer

You’ll be helping mature students get the support they need. You could be campaigning around timetabling, childcare or pushing for more support services.

Postgraduate Students’ Officer

You’ll be responsible for supporting Postgraduate Students and ensuring that they are represented.

Sports Officer

You'll be responsible for representing the views and interests of students in Brookes' sports teams and clubs.

Women’s Officer

You’ll be campaigning on key issues for women students - whether that’s access to sanitary provision or campaigning on issues such as consent, fair representation or mental health.

Other Positions

Independent Chair

You’ll independently and impartially chair the Unions’ general meetings and Annual General Meeting, seeking to ensure that attendees can understand the proceedings, hold other elected officials to account and engage in Union democracy.

NUS Delegate

NUS Delegates represent Brookes University students on a national platform. This is a volunteer role to attend a single annual event (the NUS Conference), happening from Tuesday 31st March to Thursday 2nd April.

Reasons to stand

Reasons to stand

The experience of being an officer will always be unique to the individual, but also because no other job quite like it exists, but here are just a few reasons why standing may just be the best decision you make:

  • You’ll have a remit, but your role is what you make of it - You’ll essentially make the position your own, and the Students' Union will provide training and support to help you do just that.
  • If you've ever thought 'I wish I could change that at Brookes’' - Well, this is your chance to make that change. You’ll have the power and platform to help improve the student experience for thousands of students and not forgetting the support you’ll get from the Union staff team to make your ideas a reality.
  • Those CV Gains - Want to be the top candidate when going for your next job? Well, you're going to need a solid CV and this job will give you all the skills; from project management, negotiating, budgeting, networking and event planning. Not forgetting you’ll have the experience of being a trustee of the Union and a director of a trading company under your belt (not bad for your first year in a job!).
  • It’s a one-off opportunity (literally!). You’ll never have this opportunity come up again, it is purely whilst you are studying.
  • It’s super easy to apply! So with it being so easy, why wouldn’t you? All you need to do to nominate yourself, is to write a manifesto, include your name, and upload a photo of yourself. Done! Now all you just need to do is work on your campaign.
  • You’ll have the chance to leave a legacy AND be remembered for it.
  • Not only is there no other job like it, but as a sabbatical officer, you’ll have an annual salary of £20,130 and 25 days holiday (plus bank holidays)! So if you’re graduating this year it’s certainly a great role to start and even if you’re not graduating this year you can still run (you’ll just need to take a year out from your studies).
  • You will hold one of the most senior positions within the SU (not bad for a first job, eh?).

Myths & misconceptions answered

Myths & misconceptions answered

Sabbatical Officers - They don’t have the power to actually make change.

Sabbatical officers sit at the top of the leadership structure, and are the most senior staff within the students' union. They sit on some of the highest University level meetings representing the student voice and are an integral part of the decision-making process; from contract tenders where Brookes chooses suppliers for catering, buses and accommodation. They have the sort of positional power that would normally take years to accumulate in other sectors.

Any experience of working life is beneficial for graduates, but being a sabbatical officer at a students’ union offers an extremely high-profile position within an organisation. You will gain exposure to all areas of working life, and gain management experience at a fast pace.

You need experience for this type of role

Now this isn’t like going for a job where someone looks at your CV, but instead involves running in our Brookes Union elections. So in short, no prior experience is needed nor an interview, just ideas, enthusiasm and being able to convince a load of students to vote for you, as it will be up to the student body to decide who they want to represent them.

SU Officers haven’t done anything for me...

It's a fair question, and the answer is more than you might expect! Whether you’ve ever used free sanitary products on campus, eaten at the International Lunch during One World Week, cuddled a guide dog, used a microwave on campus or donated to Movember - Even if you haven’t actively done something directly with the Union you have likely benefited from the work of the Students' Union and Officers.

You have to be the right sort of person

There is no such thing as the right sort of person. Every year, different people with different views, experiences and ideas win. If elected, you’ll have a remit, but you’ll make the position your own, and the Students' Union will provide training and support to help you do just that.

You have to be political

Wanting to see change and make improvements for students at Brookes IS political, perhaps not the type of political you’d usually associated with elections. But there aren’t particular things you have to be passionate about to run, other than being interested in making things better for students at Brookes!

Other people will be better

And you know that how?

Elections Timeline/Key Dates

Elections Timeline/Key Dates

  • Nominations open - NOW!
  • Nominations close - Wed 17 Feb
  • Candidate briefing - Thurs 18 Feb
  • Candidate announcement - Fri 19 Feb
  • Campaigning begins - Mon 22 Feb
  • Voting opens - Mon 1 Mar
  • Voting closes - Thurs 4 Mar
  • Results - Fri 5 Mar

I’ve got more questions… FAQs

I’ve got more questions… FAQs

And we've got more answers! Below you can find answers to the most common questions we get about elections, although we understand questions might be slightly different this year due to the pandemic! But if you want to know something that isn't answered here, give our Student Voice team an email:

Am I eligible to run?

If you are a member of the Students’ Union (you’re automatically one, unless you’ve opted out of course) then you’re eligible, whether you’re an undergrad, postgrad, first, second, third-year, international student, mature student. So in short - Yes, any student can nominate themselves for a role.

How does the voting actually work?

The voting system the Union uses is called Single Transferable Vote (STV). Voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. Voters can select candidates they want in the order they want them (1,2,3 etc) and it builds their vote. Once they’re happy they can submit their vote. Voters may express as many or as few preferences as they wish, but cannot mark more than one candidate with the same number.

To win, candidates must poll above 50% of the votes, either by totalling more than half of the first preferences, or reaching 50% after the lowest ranked candidates are eliminated, and the voters preferences are redistributed. There will be more information on the voting system provided in the candidate briefing.

How much will I get paid?

If you successfully become a sabbatical officer, you will be paid £20,130 per year. Part-time roles are unpaid.

Don’t just take our word for it!

Don’t just take our word for it!

Working with the Union as an Officer is one of the best jobs out there - But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s some of what previous Brookes Union officers have said about their experience working with the Union and why you should run!

“During my time as an officer, I gained a wide variety of experience which has helped me to secure a job in Marketing and Events; a role that I have always wanted to do following my graduation in 2017.”

Sharelle Holdsworth | Vice President of Societies Development 17/18

“You should run to be an Officer because you won’t regret it, and you never know, you might even be quite good at it. Fine, people have different reasons for why they run, and an election is an unconventional way of getting your first job, but it’s not only a foot in the door (note: one which pays better than most grad roles) - it’s a lot of fun.”

Josie Bushby | Vice-President: Societies Development 18/19

“To me, my greatest achievement was setting up One World Week with such an amazing team of people. I am so happy that it is still going on and diversity is celebrated.”

Elena Saldana Quintans | Vice President for Societies 15/16 & President 16/17

Online sessions and workshops

Online sessions/workshops

Election drop-ins

  • Fri 5 Feb, 12pm
  • Mon 8 Feb, 12pm
  • Wed 10 Feb, 12pm
  • Fri 12 Feb, 12
  • Mon 15 Feb, 12pm

Manifesto masterclass

  • Thurs 11 Feb, 1pm

Chat to your outgoing Officers

  • TBC