Emma Runswick, MHS Undergraduate Rep
Emma Runswick is a 2nd Year Medicine student. She’s also one of two Undergraduate Faculty Officers for the faculty of Medical and Human Sciences (MHS), who are elected each September for the academic year and represent all students within their faculty.
“I stood for election because enough people asked me to do it”
Emma was already active within the Students’ Union, having been part of the ‘Save Our NHS’ campaign, as well as campaigning for some of the exec officers to be elected. It was only when the previous year’s faculty reps, as well as exec officers and peers, told her she would make a great faculty rep that she decided it what something she’d like to do.
“The biggest skill I’ve developed is effective time management”
‘Posh email skills’ are listed among the skills Emma feels she’s developed through her role as a faculty officer, but she also says time management is a massive part of her role. Fitting everything in – the school meetings, meetings with the SU, and meeting with course reps – is challenging, but is a challenge she’s learned to meet.
“During the elections, I did a lot of campaigning as I wanted people to care.”
What’s great about being a rep for Emma is the ‘mandate you’re given to represent those who voted for you’. The secret behind Emma’s success is the very essence of what being a rep is about: listening to the issues your peers are experiencing. She says: ‘I went out and talked to people. And I’m positive that those who voted for me were people I’d talked to about my policies directly’.
“I’ve seen some major changes made within the Faculty since I’ve come into post”
Ensuring continuity and action on changes proposed by previous reps is an important part of Emma’s role. One significant change Emma has pushed through can be seen in the addition of LGBTQ issues to the curriculum across all the degree courses in the faculty, which include Medicine, Dentistry, Midwifery and Nursing; a change initially proposed by her predecessor.
“When tackling an issue, it’s all about finding out who controls what and approaching them. Sometimes you need to debate with them or campaign if you need to, but nice and tidy solutions are the best ones!”
Problem solving ability is also something Emma has developed in her role. To resolve issues, Emma gathers evidence to take to Faculty meetings where she advises on the changes that should be made.
She says “Lots of the time, Faculty will accept that those things are correct - so for the curriculum changes, they were reluctant but they did it. You will have the discussion and the outcome will be what students want or something close to what students want (a compromise) and it will happen. Or they’ll disagree with you, and you’ll run a campaign.”
“The reps in my faculty raise an awful lot of issues, good and bad which benefits the student experience of students in my Faculty”
It’s not just negative feedback the rep system produces; the reps raise things that are being done well too! Emma believes identifying what is being done well as well as what can be improved makes a lot of things better, particularly for the years that follow. While students may feel they don’t feel change in their own time, students do benefit later on.
For example, while Emma herself did not get taught on LGBTQ issues in first year, she knows the current first years are and she feels this will definitely enhance their experience.