UCL News


Spotlight on Mandy Smith

30 June 2011

This week the spotlight is on Mandy Smith, Democracy and Engagement Officer, UCLU.

Mandy Smith

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am the Democracy and Engagement Officer at UCLU, the Students' Union. The Union is run by students, for students, so effectively I have 24,000 line managers! Whether it is our environmental policy, the type of events we run or our stance on a national issue, we work to involve students through open meetings, forums, referenda and elections and we take our direction from them.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL since 2005 and am currently on sabbatical from my Medical Degree, which I will be going back to for the 2011-12 academic year to complete my finals. While the medical degree is already long (six years), I still didn't feel ready to leave UCL so I ran for election to a full-time position.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

For a number of years we have been reviewing the way we engage students and our strategic plan research indicated that students felt our democratic structures were complicated and inaccessible.

In response, I led a complete overhaul of our governance and put the proposals to students for a campus wide vote. The result was our first quorate referendum in history, with 3,000 students voting and 90% supporting the proposals.

This means that from August 2011, we will have a more open, forum-based structure rather than the committee-heavy, bureaucratic structures that we have been held back by for decades. The membership also voted to allow us to Incorporate as a Company Limited Guarantee, and following all of these changes we were able to register UCLU with the Charity Commission.

What is your life like outside UCL?

I am really interested in patient safety and quality in healthcare so I spend a lot of time reading around the subject, and will be involved in a research project at Great Ormond Street Hospital next year.