An investigation by Exeposé has revealed that nearly one in three students cannot name or recognise any of the four Sabbatical Officers they elected in 2013. 32 per cent did not know Hannah Barton, Alex Louch, Jak Curtis-Rendall, or Chris Rootkin when shown pictures of them, while 29 per cent could not recognise any of these four in addition to Alex Powell, the incumbent AU president.
The survey, which questioned 100 students in Devonshire House and the Forum across January 16 and January 17, is the first of its kind since a similar survey in 2012, which indicated that 68 per cent of students could not name a single Sabb.
In this survey, only eight per cent could name and recognise the roles of all four Guild Sabbs and the AU President when shown images of them, though 15 per cent were able to name and recognise the four Sabbs (excluding the AU President) when questioned.
Sabb is short for Sabbatical Officer, and refers to the Sabbatical Officers, a team who work for the interests of students from within the Students’ Guild, with the exception of Alex Powell, the AU President, who works within the University of Exeter Sport department.
The statistics also indicated significant recognition of Hannah Barton, the President of the Students’ Guild. The Guild website describes Barton’s role as being the “figurehead of the organisation; both internally and externally”, and 57 per cent of respondents recognised Barton as Guild President, with 47 per cent being able to name her.
Barton’s recognition was around double that of any other Sabbatical role. Only 21 per cent could recognise Alex Louch as VP Academic Affairs, with 22 per cent able to name him. Chris Rootkin was successfully named by 23 per cent of respondents, with 26 per cent correctly identifying Rootkin as VP Welfare.
One in three students accurately named Jak Curtis-Rendall when shown an image of them, with 29 per cent able to identify him as VP Participation and Campuses.
Finally, Alex Powell, whose publicity is the responsibility of the AU, rather than the Students’ Guild, was successfully named by 22 per cent of students, with 27 per cent able to recognise her as AU President.
These figures constitute a dramatic improvement on statistics which Exeposé gathered in 2012 about the outgoing sabbatical team in that year. In that year, 76 per cent of students were unable to name their Guild President, while 68 per cent could not name any Sabbatical Officers.
Exeter is one of the most democratically engaged universities in the country, with the Guild estimating that 45.5 per cent of students have voted in an election or taken part in a student vote on a key issue.
Hannah Barton, University of Exeter Students’ Guild President, said: “The strong improvement in students’ recognition of their Sabbatical Officers is very pleasing and marks the success of efforts by the Students’ Guild – and the Sabbs themselves – to raise awareness of their roles and the work they do on behalf of students. As the foremost representatives of students at the University, we can be most effective when able to engage with the student body. I will continue to work with the Sabbs, the Students’ Guild and the University to raise awareness of our roles still further in order to shape and deliver the best possible student experience. Students can contact us any time in Devonshire House or by email and can follow our day-to-day activities on Twitter”.
Ricky Freelove, a second year History student, said: “I think it’s disappointing that one in three students cannot name or even recognise any of the Sabb positions. Even when I took the survey, I could only name Hannah Barton due to frequently seeing her poster in the Forum”, before adding: “Our representatives do explicitly have a commitment to make us know who they are, and what they are doing for us”.
Owen Keating, News Editor, additional reporting by Meg Drewett, Editorbookmark me