“I have been working to advocate for PhD students”: Interview with SU Postgraduate Officer Yolanda King

With the 2018 Students’ Union Elections now finished, Impact talked to Yolanda King, the Postgraduate Officer, to learn more about her time in office.

During the interview, Yolanda talked about the virtue welcome fair, the Postgraduate community, the SU, what she is still hoping to accomplish and more.

“It has gone way too quickly, and I wish I had more time left”

How would you say your time in office has been so far?

Yolanda: “It has gone way too quickly, and I wish I had more time left.”

She continues to say: “Sometimes [things have not happened] as fast as I would like things to be in terms of the processes you have to undertake to get things done, but I also think I have made positive inroads so far.”

What would you say has been your greatest achievement since becoming the Postgraduate Officer?

Yolanda: “So far, the organisation of the virtual welcome fair. Although it is still being completed, it took some very quick organisation and a fast turn-around to collect the footage as I hadn’t even fully started yet, [as] I was still in my handover period with Matt.”

Yolanda however, adds two different achievements that she is proud of: creating the Postgraduate Students Network, “as it has a lot of potential for the future,” and the recent Link18 Conference.

“there is a lot more about the SU that I didn’t know”

And your greatest challenge? 

Yolanda: “Catering for our diverse postgraduate community and being able to cater for something I haven’t experienced- a PhD, [has been] the biggest challenge.” She does, however, go on to say that she has been working very hard to develop her understanding of PhD students.”

Talking about the challenges of the SU, Yolanda said: “there is a lot more about the SU that I didn’t know, so it was difficult to get my head around the complexity of the Union and the relationships with the University and Graduate Centres.”

 What is something you wish you would have known before taking up the role?

Yolanda: “I wish I had known more about the meetings within my remit. Officers sit on board meetings within the SU as well as the University. This is important and sometimes very crucial in terms of having student’s voice heard and represented.

“It is a lot more than just working to complete your manifesto”

“Within my remit, I personally attend the UoNSU Student experience committee, UoNSU Elections committee, UoN research board, UoN Educational Excellence group, UoN Teaching and learning group, SU central liaison group, EU taskforce, Union Council, UoN Senate, Quality Standards Committee […]

“It is a lot more than just working to complete your manifesto.”

You ran for office three times in total. Was the contribution you were able to make to the SU worth the effort?

Yolanda: “I think this is difficult for me to answer because I want to say yes, but really in this regard, it is the student opinion that is important, especially Postgrads.

“I personally feel it was worth my time running and that I am making a difference”

“I personally feel it was worth my time running and that I am making a difference; perhaps not as openly evident as I would have liked, but I am working to lay down better foundations that can be built upon in the future.

“I hope that once I am finished, students will feel that my contribution has been worthy of my efforts- not just in terms of my longer than average campaign journey, but the efforts during my tenure.”

 Finally, what are you still hoping to accomplish before the end of your time in office?

Yolanda: “A lot! [There are] a mixture of goals, some of which were on my manifesto and some that weren’t.

“I am currently working on an alternative solution”

“Some things like Student bricks have not been feasible but I am currently working on an alternative solution. At the moment I feel that [every point] has been started, but some are a lot further scoped out or closer to being completed than others.

“I have also been working to advocate for PhD students who teach and develop an agreement with the University to deliver standard working conditions.”

Goda Naujokaityte and Sarah Lindgarde

Featured image courtesy of Impact Images.
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