Five weeks after the furore of sabbatical elections Rachel Pearson found time in an increasingly busy schedule to sit down with The Founder. Already delivering on her promise to be accessible and approachable to anyone at anytime, this would be Rachel’s second interview with The Founder where she talked about the thrill of winning, life since and the big issues affecting students.
Bounding into Bedford library at 9am with seemingly limitless energy Rachel and I initially began by talking about result night and life around campus since. Still getting used to being recognised around campus Rachel described both the enjoyment and shock of being approached and pointed out to next year’s freshers during last week’s open day.
Despite seemingly limitless enthusiasm for helping and representing the students at Royal Holloway, Rachel was also aware of need to finish her history degree. Admitting that “reading week came at the perfect time” as the rigours of campaigning had a left a lot to do, Rachel talked about how odd it was to return to work after spending so long focussing on the elections. Helped by James Pigeon who has warned next year’s sabbatical team about getting distracted Rachel was fully aware of the importance of concentrating on her degree.
At the same time however Rachel is preparing herself for next year. Soaking up advice from James Pigeon, David Cummins and any previous sabbatical officer willing to give advice it was clear that Rachel is giving next year considerable thought. Following a fairly empty General Meeting on the 23rd Rachel talked about how she was “kept up for quite a while” that night trying to think of ways to increase turnout to this important event. Though not wishing to “take away a person’s right to be apathetic” Rachel is keen to publicise the event especially to next years freshers.
During both interviews Rachel was brimming with ideas for next year including; holding a fortnightly two hour surgery to improve accessibility, a variety of practical plans to open up more space for students and societies, and holding a “design your own union night competition”. With over 8,000 students to please Rachel identified the need to gain a deeper understanding of what students want as another important aim, achievable through the expansion of “Operation Entertainment”. Recognising space, both for study and extra-curricular activates, as one of the most important issues affecting students, Rachel remained dedicated to helping improve the use of space, publicise the genuine improvements being made and improve awareness and ease of using resources in London.
Pragmatism is an equally important part of Rachel’s approach. Acknowledging that some changes that students want are simply impossible to achieve in just a year or given their financial implications. However Rachel remains committed to lobbying for the big changes along with making the small changes that will improve the student experience at Royal Holloway.
It is important to remember that Rachel’s campaign for the SU presidency has been three years in the making. When asked during an earlier interview for The Founder during polling week what had inspired her to run for the demanding and often thankless role of president, Rachel described how “the seeds were very much sown even before I got here, I knew I wanted to make a big impression” and that by November of her first year she had decided to get involved and eventually run. Involved continually in the union since arriving at Royal Holloway as first year rep for the drama society, president of the drama society, chair of roscars committee, societies federation officer and a volunteer around campus and during freshers week; it is strikingly clear just how much Rachel knows about Royal Holloway and how the lives of its students can be improved.