In many ways, what we do at University in our free time is as important as our academic studies and one of the most genuinely substantive things we can take away from our the university experience. In her role of Student Activities Officer, the important job of overseeing the multitude of societies on campus, “unless it needs a referee”, falls to Anna McGivern. Whether it’s Drama Soc, York’s student media community or the famous Fet Soc, it all comes within McGivern’s jurisdiction.
“I’m 22 (yeah, I know I’m old compared to freshers!) and I’m short. I’m quite loud, unless I’m hungry, and I love a good chill out with a bottle of something cheeky, a good movie and some friends.” McGivern’s boundless energy and enthusiasm shines through and it’s easy to see how the social and political sciences student managed to narrowly beat ex-housemate Chris West last year; no mean feat considering her opponents incumbency.
McGivern’s advice for freshers is simple, “Just go for it! Try as much as you can, or stick with what you know. You’ll meet great people and have a lot of fun, and if not move onto other things.” Relating to her experiences as a first year McGivern recalls, “I tried to join a few societies in the first term and then carried on with what I liked in the second and third years, picking up a few new things en-route.”
McGivern’s priorities this year include a much needed revamp of RAG and volunteering on campus. Moreover, she is also keen to integrate activities with careers. Something that seems eminently sensible in the current climate, as its well-known that employers are increasingly looking for skills and experiences beyond the grade printed on a piece of paper when there is such a glut of high quality, and indistinguishable graduates to choose from. What students do in their free time may often prove the clincher in the race for employment.
York has one of the top societies to student ratios in the country. With such an eclectic range of societies you may think that all bases are covered when it comes to societies, but McGivern is keen to stress how easy it is to set up new organisations. “Its so easy! We have two ratification periods (the next is November) in which you can send an application to me and then is goes to Socs criteria then you’re done, if there is an appeal process.” It’s this process that can sometimes cause controversy as her predecessor found out last year, with the ratification of Palestinian Soc proving controversial. The society was finally ratified after a number of rejected attempts and much polemic; hopefully no such controversy will befall McGivern’s tenure this year.
“Freshers week is probably one of the strangest weeks of your life.” McGivern continued. “You’ll have a million emotions and thoughts flying through your mind, and no doubt alcohol running through your veins, so all I say is enjoy it! Try not to overthink things and be careful not to wear yourself out. Most of all just embrace it and have fun. The best thing about York are the people I’ve met here. It’s a beautiful city with lots to do, and the friendships I’ve made here will last a lifetime.”
You can get in touch with Anna by either dropping into the sabatical student office in the student centre near James college or emailing her on at [email protected]