DSU Election Interviews 2012: DUCK Officer

Who will be in DUCK’s driving seat for 2012/13?

DUCK OFFICER CANDIDATES

Sally Holt (page 1)

Carmen O’Loughlin (page 2)

RON

SALLY HOLT

What does DUCK mean to you?

Students at their best, working together to benefit everyone. An incredible organisation where everybody wins – an amazing amount of personal development goes on. The fact that it’s student-led is testament to how many amazing people are involved. Having fun and making sure that students have maximum choice over where their money goes.

Do you think DUCK is running efficiently now?

It runs efficiently in that it raises huge amounts of money for charity. We have very small overheads because we have so many volunteers. Some things can be streamlined; I have tried to cut down on costs for expeditions this year. Things like the duck race involve almost no money. To raise money, DUCK needs to have some costs.

How would you develop and improve DUCK in Queen’s Campus?

A October Project Fair at QC is in my manifesto – this would raise awareness in QC in October with all of the exec going down. People down there are keen, but specific information for them is not getting to them, such as bus times in order to reach Durham events. I’d aim for regular office hours where money is brought back and forth – I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep but I’d at least aim for regular hours and support the exec down there. Communication needs to be really clear – for example introducing a QC DUCK email, including anything going on in QC specifically and tailored information for QC students.

What is DUCK’s biggest problem?

Various things can be improved; things can always be enhanced. I fundamentally love what DUCK does – we do what we do very well. We need to target a broader range of students. Alumni balls and expedition reunions are amongst my ideas for this. We need to give more options to students so they’re more aware of what DUCK does. One thing it can be criticised for is transparency. Students aren’t always aware where DUCK money goes – this needs to be published more.

What is DUCK’s unique selling point?

Other universities don’t tend to have things like DUCK. DUCK does many things in-house, such as students running expeditions and major events, which no other rag organisations DUCK knows of does. It brings together like-minded people, such as for Tough Guy, while raising huge amounts of money for good causes.

How should DUCK, and the DUCK Officer, relate to the rest of the DSU?

DUCK shouldn’t ‘relate’ to the DSU, it’s part of the DSU. It needs to work with DSU next year to ensure DUCK is a part of DSU’s new strategy. DSU helps DUCK and vice-versa. DUCK is for all students, not just those directly involved, doing things such as providing consultation for students who want to do something outside DUCK, and including groups such as postgraduates, international students, and alumni.

What charity matters most to you personally?

Many different charities matter in different ways. Kids for Kids which helps kids in Darfur is one I support. There’s a need for small charities and large charities – I have huge respect for the Alzheimer’s Society, and Oxfam, who can make a huge difference. Don’t underestimate the value of the many different sorts of work charities do.

CARMEN O’LOUGHLIN

What does DUCK mean to you?

It means a huge amount to me – pranks, tough guys running through disgusting, horrible assault courses – but the main thing it means is the charities we really help. I want to help improve transparency so people realise what charities benefit and how from DUCK. It’s not just a silly acronym – it’s ultimately about charities and personal development. Students can personally develop while also helping people.

Do you think DUCK is running efficiently now?

At the moment DUCK has got much more efficient – Archie has done a great job at letting people take ownership of their positions. We need to improve on engaging with people directly, and improve on use of sponsorship, helping people more with events and so on. There’s always room for improvement but overall it’s running well.

How would you develop and improve DUCK in Queen’s Campus?

The key thing is to make sure we’re prominently there in freshers’ week. I’d support the QC coordinators. John Snow has a charities committee – we should help them without necessarily going straight to the DUCK brand. Rag raids would work very well for QC – people like them as a weekend away. We need to find out what charities QC students support. We must make sure we’re making things specific to QC, not just implementing Durham city events, and support QC people living in Durham as well. We need more of a presence down there – meeting their execs and so on, ensuring DUCK is on the ground in QC.

What is DUCK’s biggest problem?

DUCK’s branding is so prominent – a strength and a weakness. People don’t connect that money raised for DUCK goes to charities rather than DUCK. We don’t need to ram it down people’s throats, but raise awareness of what the causes DUCK supports are. We need to get better at ensuring people know what these causes are doing. We need more market research, and look at demographics – involving QC and postgraduates more. We need to support college reps centrally more – they do an amazing job, but shouldn’t be left to do everything alone. We shouldn’t just rely on the college reps and the email.

What is DUCK’s unique selling point?

The fun side – events are quirky, different, and edgy, things like Lost, Jailbreak, sleeping out in the cathedral. DUCK pushes the boundaries and does crazy things. That’s what’s really exciting. It challenges people to gain confidence – even just going on a rag raid, asking people for money and explaining the charity.

How should DUCK, and the DUCK Officer, relate to the rest of the DSU?

DUCK can’t survive without the DSU – it relies on DSU for finance and so much support. For example the uni-wide email is possible because DUCK is part of DSU, not just another society. DUCK isn’t just representative of the charities the exec wants to support – it represents and educates students about all charities. It’s important for the DSU as it is (successfully) asking students to get involved, which the DSU needs. Administratively DUCK needs DSU. Student development is part of DUCK’s mission statement so it’s clearly bound up with DSU. DUCK needs to grow with DSU; DSU needs to grow in a way that’s beneficial to students, and charity involvement helps that. We should work together to complement each other.

What charity matters most to you personally?

Moving On if I had to name one – I’ve worked closely with them, and it struck a chord when someone said that it had directly helped them. Charities like Marie Curie, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, Barnardo’s charities that have helped people I know. But the good thing about DUCK is the wide range of charities it helps. Kids for Kids is another good example. There are so many charities it’s impossible to name one. We need to look into what charities to support; it’s difficult. You have to make sure the charities you do support are doing the best they can and working as hard as they can. Don’t just look at the marketing.

Interviews by Thom Addinall-Biddulph. More information on candidates, including their manifestos, is available at http://www.dsu.org.uk/content/803843/democracy/elections_and_referenda/sabbatical_elections_2012/.

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