Jack O'Neill, currently VP Education for the Students' Union (SU), will soon be moving into his role of SU President. We recently caught up with Jack to discover more about his achievements over the past year, and what he plans to achieve going forward as President.
1. For the 2018/19 academic year, you were elected to serve as Vice President Education within the Students’ Union. What have been the highlights of this role?
The main highlight of the role has been working with the academic reps to implement positive changes at university. The new rep system has provided greater clarity, consistency and support for students that genuinely want to make a difference at Royal Holloway. Without the hard work of these reps, campaigns such as the push for lecture capture, or enabling digital assessment submissions simply wouldn’t have happened.
2. You have been elected as Students’ Union President, congratulations! How do you feel about this new challenge? What do you hope to achieve/what are your priorities?
I am incredibly excited to be undertaking this new leadership role, and enabling greater interaction with more members of staff, more students, and working alongside a new team of officers. This year we had the highest engagement of any election, and every single platform that the officers are standing on is elevated and representative. This year, I am looking forward to establishing a Wellbeing Strategy at the College so meaningful support can be provided, as well as working on careers support for students at Royal Holloway – so they are just as prepared for life after university, as life at university.
3. How does your role as an elected Officer fit within the context of the College?
As an elected Officer at the Students’ Union, I work in a team of Sabbatical Officers that campaign, represent and lobby for the interests of students at Royal Holloway. In addition to being trustees of the Students’ Union, and working on the operational management of the charity, a key role of elected officers is interacting with College. Via representing the student interest on committees, seeking ways to collaboratively improve the lives of students, we interact with a wide range of College staff on a regular basis.
4. You are also a graduate of the College, what have you found unique about studying at the College?
In 2018, I graduated with a degree in History and International Relations. I greatly enjoyed, and now greatly miss, learning such a breadth and depth of information on a daily basis. What was also memorable about studying at Royal Holloway was the opportunities available – before coming to university, I never thought that I could lead one of the UK’s only delegations to the New York Model United Nations Conference!
5. What is your favourite Students’ Union event of the year?
It is difficult as the calendar is always filled with so many fantastic events that are offered to provide some breaks for students at Royal Holloway! Although it is cliché, Summer Ball is undoubtedly the best event of the year. As a student, it was always that moment to celebrate the year, and enjoying good company before the summer break. And this year, it has always been the milestone to get to as the work piles up!
6. If you had the opportunity to go out for dinner with two famous figures, who would they be and why?
I think about questions like this far too often, so I should probably be able to answer it slightly better. There are so many options, I could take Theresa May and David Cameron out for dinner to work out quite what they were thinking, or James Corden and Ruth Jones – and don’t get me started on the possibilities if I could pick people that aren’t alive anymore. Ultimately I think I would have to pick Barack Obama and Ethel Kennedy.