Spotlight on Sam Gaus
11 January 2013
This week the spotlight is on Sam Gaus, Democracy and Communications Officer at UCLU.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I'm the Democracy and Communications Officer for UCLU, the students' union for UCL students. My job comes in two parts: managing the democracy for the Union in the form of our governance, elections and any of the formal student-led aspects of the Union and the communications for the Union - our media, mailouts, marketing and publicity.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
As with all Full-Time Officers, my term is only from August to August and I'll be going back into my Computer Science degree!
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
it's only a one-year term, my projects of which I am most proud are still in
the pipelines. The one I'm looking most forward to, however, is my online
governance system, allowing students to navigate the bureaucracy of the Union
incredibly easily and no longer be put off by our labyrinthine decision-making
One of the biggest problems in the Union is voter turnout. Although
students are incredibly happy (according to the Student Barometer) with the
Union, we score somewhere in the lower middle of voter turnouts across the
country. It's my job to fix that and I hope to approach the problem both
holistically and specifically.
An online system goes some way to address the former - by addressing student interest with our democracy in general, we can increase the relevance and awareness of the elections. To address the latter, one of the things I will be doing is re-introducing physical voting to the campus. Data shows that Unions with a physical manifestation of their democracy have far higher turnouts and so you may see some branded marquees popping up around campus over the next year ready to collect student votes using secured laptops.
What is your life like outside UCL?
I am a dedicated activist, campaigning for free education and against cuts within and beyond UCL. For the past few years I've been working on Sukey - a project I started to help protesters keep safe. I also run a Scout group.