Jun 21 2020
When I first joined Royal Holloway in 2015, I would never have imagined that my departure would coincide with a pandemic, and I would be hanging up my Students’ Union Presidency. Alas, the time has come for your newly elected Sabbatical Officers to take the reins, to bring in new ideas and approaches, and ultimately, to continue to make student life better at Royal Holloway.
During the course of my two years as your elected representative, I have had the pleasure of interacting with so many of you – whether this be supporting you to bring about change on your course; campaigning with you to introduce lecture capture more widely; developing policy with you; or, even disagreeing with you on a particular issue. Throughout this time, I have been constantly reminded that universities are wonderful places to be, to study or to work, because of the people within them.
Every time that I have had a conversation with someone around campus, they have been more interested in raising a concern, or a challenge facing their friend or peer, than themselves. Similarly, the majority of emails or messages I receive are students highlighting the amazing work of others, rather than blowing their own trumpet (although I rightly get some of these too). It is this spirit, this caring attitude, that is going to be so important as we all move forwards into the next academic year and beyond.
I have been immensely proud of the new outlook that the Students’ Union has taken, leading on two major policy inquiries; the PGR Student Experience and Careers Support has demonstrated an elevated understanding and the effective lobbying power that we can all be, together. Moving forwards, we are all going to have to collectively demonstrate this again, getting involved and constructively contributing to the discussion – I for one am really excited to see what can be achieved.
Unfortunately, my term in office can’t end by experiencing one more survivor’s breakfast at Summer Ball, so I have no exciting parting words on that front. I am sure that we all long for times when we can complain about not finding a seat in the Library, or enjoy a drink in Founder's Quad, but until then, stay safe, stay determined and stay together.

Jack O'Neill
President (Students' Union)