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Navigating the Challenges of Co-Presidency

Autonomy, impact and initiatives

21 February 2024
Picture of  Dani McFawns

Dani McFawns

Co-President of the Humanities,
Social Sciences & Law School

Being a School President has been a big challenge, but it has been a valuable experience that has set me up incredibly well for life after University. As Co-Presidents, Erin and I decided to split the workload between Divisions, so my work covers Humanities, Social Sciences, and shared responsibility of Education & Society as it’s so varied with loads of different courses – primary teaching, secondary teaching, undergrad, postgrad, and the modern languages department!  

Since the School is also really new (this is only its second year of existing, after being combined from the Schools of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education & Social Work), it also means we’ve been key stakeholders in steering its direction and had a lot of say in what goes on, through amplifying the student voice to the senior staff in the School, such as the Dean. 

A typical week for me involves going to at least a couple of meetings, answering a LOT of emails, monitoring any ongoing surveys we have and our anonymous suggestion box, plus going to my classes and working on my dissertation. The meetings are a huge mix of ones within my School like School Board or Divisional SSLCs, or DUSA ones like the SRC, School Presidents Forum, or newly established Education Steering Group. Most meetings we have happen either once a month or once every couple of months, so every week really is different! 

One of the coolest things about being a School President is the freedom you have to run your own initiatives and events to really try and make change and have a positive impact. This year, we’ve been putting a lot of work into research and reports to do with staff strikes, academic integrity, and feelings about employability for Humanities students. We’ve also got to run some cool events, like our Halloween Quiz, our upcoming LGBT+ History Month evening (cheeky plug) and in April, our first-ever SHSL Ball! 

Running in the DUSA Elections last year was nerve-wracking, but it ended up being fun in the end. I had a great time designing all my campaign graphics and chatting with people on campus. It’s a big step to put yourself out there like that, but the opportunities it has given me have been incredible! And I still wear the hoodie around the house, so that’s a bonus. 

My biggest tip for anyone thinking about running for a School President position would be to just go for it – what’s the worst that can happen, if you don’t win? I think the pros far outweigh the cons!  

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