Leading an upReach Society: A President’s Perspective

Constantinos Christou | upReach Society President, University of Exeter

Costa is a final year Politics student at the University of Exeter. Having joined the upReach programme in his first year of university, Costa joined the upReach Society committee as an Events Coordinator in his second year, before taking on the role of President in his final year. Here, he shares his perspective on what it’s like to be involved in the society, and why it’s important the society exists on campus.

If you’re an upReach Associate and would like to get involved in growing the upReach community, you can apply for a committee position or contact liam.flannigan@upreach.org.uk.

What does your role as Society President involve?

Because of where the society is currently, I’d say my role as Society President is threefold. The first is the managing of the committee to ensure that tasks are delegated as evenly as possible across the team, whilst having a regard for where their strengths and needed areas of improvement lie. This involves frequently meeting with the committee and discussing further event ideas and making sure everyone is on-task. The second is liasing with the relevant upReach team members in order to ensure that the society is mirroring the aspirations of the charity overall and that my colleagues are aware of the work the society is doing on campus. Because the societies are a relatively ‘young’ concept in the upReach canon, we are still very much in the process of shaping what the societies will look like and how they will develop as time goes on. The third function, and perhaps the most exciting aspect of my role, is the campaigning and networking aspect; I attend meetings with the Guild (students union) in order to voice our ideas surrounding student-led initiatives in a bid to increase accessibility and promote social mobility. For example, I am currently involved in planning groups for the We Are All Exeter campaign and the College of Social Science’s diversity and inclusion group.

What have you most enjoyed about being part of the upReach Society?

Aside from meeting the many wonderful and ambitious upReach associates at the University of Exeter, I have enjoyed being a part of a developing movement. I have been an advocate against educational elitism since I was a teenager, so having a platform to campaign for the cause has been an excellent experience. Knowing that I am helping to lay down the foundation of a potentially transformative campaign to increase awareness of social mobility advocacy on campuses makes this role more rewarding than a standard society position. I have also enjoyed collaborating closely with Programme Coordinators at upReach and understanding how the charity works from the front lines.

Why do you think having an upReach Society at your university is important?

Having studied at the University of Exeter for nearly three years now, it is evident that diversity is an issue here. Across the higher education sector, ‘Diversity’ has become a buzzword in student recruitment terms. At Exeter specifically, there has been a push to ‘widen participation’ through summer school programmes and localised outreach schemes. However, more could be done to create an authentically inclusive culture on campus, so students from lower socio-economic background feel comfortable to assume positions of leadership and engage in student activities.

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