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The Invisible Sabbs?

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Kayley Gilbert argues that Sabbs should do more to advertise themselves to students and keep themselves visible after election week, especially to first year students.

As an Exeposé investigation revealed last week, nearly one in three students cannot name or recognise any of the four Sabbatical Officers that were elected in 2013. Why is that? I could name two, one of which was more chance than knowledge and I had met the other Sabb officer.

Image credit: Exeter Guild
Image credit: Exeter Guild

Though when I say met, I do mean it rather loosely, he spoke in a lecture in the first week of first term, early enough that most students in the room were still waking up and the other half were too busy unpacking paper and pens and chatting to friends about the night before to be paying any decent amount of attention. So, is it any wonder that few know who they are?

As a first year student I wasn’t at Exeter University when the campaigns were held and the elections took place, so Sabbatical Officers were a mystery to me. Not only did I not know who they were or what they did, but I didn’t really know what a Sabb was. The role of the Sabbs was never explained to me nor was what they did, where I could find them or what I would want to find them for. So is it any wonder that percentages are so low, especially amongst first years?

Yes, they were elected and accepted by their student body, but come September a third of the student population is new to the University and has no idea who any of them are or what they do. Surely first years should be just as important to current Sabbs as the rest of the university population. So why should students have to go looking for them? It would surely be much better for students, the Sabbs and the University if they were introduced to the student body and their roles outlined so that first years could go to them with problems, ideas and suggestions.

However, by the looks of the election turn outs over the last few years and the number of students who could name all five Sabbs, it’s not just first years that this problem affects. I believe that the Sabb officers, as leaders and representatives of the student body, should try to be more visible throughout the year, rather than just during election week, so that students know who they are and what they do. Although I think that all the Sabbs do a brilliant job at representing the student body and carrying out their policies, I think they could and should do more to advertise themselves to students and keep themselves visible after election week, especially to first year students.

Kayley Gilbert

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