What's it like to be a Part-Time Officer?

Find out more from Jules Buet, our LGBT+ Rep (Mile End), what it's like to be a Part-time officer.

Elections

Jules Buet, LGBT+ Rep (Mile End)

My name’s Jules Buet and I am a part time MSc Master of Astrophysics student. I am a bit older than the average cohort because I am 29 now and I am working at the same time- I have a software developer role in a bank in Canary Wharf.

I started my masters last year in September 2022, and I decided to run for LGBT+ Rep for Mile End for this year. I ran in the April 2023 elections, started my role in August 2023 and end it in July 2024. I was a bit hesitant to run in the beginning because, as you can guess between my role and my studies, I have quite a lot going on! But there wasn't anyone running for the LGBT+ Rep so I decided to sign up because I thought it would be better to have some kind of representation, even if I don't have time to go to all the meetings, than not having any at all. I think overall it was a good choice. Ultimately, I'm quite happy with that [choice] and I’ve been able to manage it reasonably.

What is your role and what motivated you to apply?iI

I’m the LGBT+ Rep for Mile End campus, and also a little bit for Barts since there isn't an LGBT+ Rep for Barts but I am focused on Mile End. Generally, my role is about representing the LGBT+ population at Queen Mary by attending different meetings, like student council and the communities board. There's approximately one of those meeting each a month.

I try to organise events which i think might be beneficial for the LGBT+ community. Basically, the role can be as much or as little as you want. The main point, in my case, is that you are able to listen to LGBT+ voices, for instance through the society group chat, and give them that representation by sharing their thoughts with the wider Students’ Union body.

What are some highlights from your time as a PTO so far?

One thing that I’d like to highlight is that you’re not on your own. There is a lot of support, in my case, from Ruth who is a full-time staff officer in the Union. You get a lot of support from the full-time officers as well so it is really a communal effort.

If you don't feel like you have the time to organise everything, that’s fine. I have had quite a few ideas which have more or less come to fruition. I've had a lot of help for the events I've done, in terms of organising them.

If you are a PTO, you are the person who is supposed to come up with ideas, checking that it's something valuable to the community but you don't have to plan everything, book the rooms, do the marketing etc. Not everything is you on your own- you're there to be the representative but you don’t necessarily have to do all the leg work.

Have there been any surprising moments or opportunities as a PTO?

I dont necessarily think Ive been looking for opportunities because I’ve been working for a while. However, I'm originally from France, so it definitely has helped me better understand how activism and unions work in the UK, it's quite a big difference from what’s going on in other countries.

I've been quite active in my works union since I started working, but there were a lot of things which i didn't really understand, and the good thing about being involved in the Students' Union is that it can help you understand the process of how those other work unions work. Since it’s more expected in the Students’ Union to ask questions, explain the acronyms, explain how things work- everyone is kind of new to this, whereas in my work union, I was thrown in there and not quite sure what was going on. It helps me understand the different processes that apply to work unions that I may potentially get involved in or if that's a job you’re interested in looking into, it gives you valuable experience as well.

What is a piece of advice you could give to someone applying?

I think one piece of advice i'd give to someone applying is to think about the changes you would like to see and how you're hoping to make the campus better either for the special group you're representing or generally for the whole cohort, if you have a generic role title.

If you're a bit worried about not having the time, it really is not that big a commitment- one hour meeting per month or so, and everything else is extra. If you can do it or want to do it, that’s great. I think everybody appreciates all the work that can go into this.

There's been a lot of recognition from my fellow PTOs and full-time officers as well. It is also on your HEAR so that's definitely a bonus- It shows your leadership skill, conversational skills and more. I have really enjoyed the networking skills it gives you.

I would say, yes it is an extra time commitment but I definitely think it’s worth it. I was really worried about not having the time but ultimately, if you can find the 15 minutes here and there and the one-hour meeting once a month, then that's really enough. This role will be what you make of it. You gain skills based on what you put in.

 

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