Keeping reps engaged and effective during the year is a difficult task – here are some ways that unions have helped keep reps involved in the system.
Keeping reps recognisable and active
- Nominate your best reps to be course reps of the year at the NUS Awards.
- Collect examples of rep wins, and promote these to reps and the student body to keep them enthused.
- Encourage reps to network by creating a mailing list for reps, blog spot or discussion board or making use of social networking sites. Use the sites your reps already use rather than making them sign up to something new.
- Hold regular forums for reps, and ensure these are driven by their needs and issues by inviting them to contribute to the agenda for the meeting, or vote on the type training that they would like to receive.
- Invite a member of university staff to a rep meeting to answer their burning questions.
- Let reps know what’s going on in the union and the other activities that they could be getting involved in (e.g. elections, volunteering, sports clubs, societies, student media).
- Encourage reps to write articles for the student magazine on the issues that affect them.
- Start a campaign – use your NSS results or simply student feedback to start a campaign on a contentious issue (e.g. library opening hours), and invite reps to strategise and create a plan of action that they can get involved in.
- Assist reps by making meeting spaces available to them to meet with other reps or students to discuss issues, and providing snacks to fuel their discussions!
- Make template posters for reps to put their names and contact details with union branding – get one up on every notice board in the institution to act as a point of reference for students.
- Most importantly, publicising success breeds success, so don’t stop telling reps and students what your reps have achieved and are working on– this will motivate reps and encourage other students to get involved.
Enhancing communication between reps
Incorporating networking and social events into your calendar of activities of reps can help foster effective working between reps.
The importance of creating networks, team-working and forging friendships cannot be underestimated for retention of reps and for effective representation across departments.
- Ensure reps have the details of other reps in their department or area of study, or set up a mail base so that they can interact.
- Organise smaller meetings between reps by department or lunches so that they can get to know each other and start networking, this is also a good opportunity for you to find out the issues that matter to them.
- Introduce networking games to your rep training, or run an event purely with team-working activities and discussion so that reps can start building relationships with each other.
- Create blogs or a forum for your reps to discuss and debate ideas on your website.
- Invite reps to produce their own newsletter or at least contribute to it.
- Make use of those that have been reps in the past, and encourage them to get involved in training new reps.
- Initiate handover sessions for outgoing reps to meet incoming reps to share knowledge and information or pairing between reps within departments for support.
- Many unions send their reps a newsletter with information to keep them up-to-date with information and activities and inform them of key issues and events.