What do Trustees do?
Student Trustees sit on the Board of Directors for the Union. Trustees are not be involved in day to day affairs, but take an overview of how the Union is performing, both financially and in delivering services to students.
The overall role of the Board is to ensure that the Union is well run, meeting its aims and working within the legal and constitutional framework laid down.
There are twelve Trustees: the six Full-time elected officers; three elected students; and three Trustees appointed for their specialist knowledge in areas such as law and finance to provide independent expertise for the Board.
What are Trustees required to do?
Trustees are responsible for:
- making sure the decisions that the Union makes are in the best interest of the Union and its members
- Setting the long term plans and direction of the Union
- Making sure the Union uses its financial resources properly and that it is financially viable
- Ensuring the Union works within the law and constitution
You will act as Trustee for the academic year (you may stand for re-election if you will continue to be a student).
As a Trustee, you will be required to:
- Attend about 4 Board meetings a year, as well as one or more training/induction sessions. Attend any sub-committees to which you are appointed
- Prepare for Board meetings by reading through materials and Board papers beforehand
- Attend the annual Members’ meeting of the Union, where the trustees’ report will be presented to students
- Keep in regular contact by email and phone with the other Trustees and provide feedback and input on issues when they arise
Who can be a Student Trustee?
The role of Trustee is governed by law. There are certain categories of people who may not be a trustee or company director. So that the Union can be satisfied that you will be able to carry out the role if elected, you need to complete a charity trustee declartion and return it to the Returning Officer before the nomination can be confirmed.
It is important for the Union that the Board makes good decisions, as they affect the whole organisation. In order to do this, the Board should involve a range of people with different views and experiences. It contains a majority of people that are relevant to its work: students! The Student Trustees will ensure that the union is accountable to its members and that students have their views heard at this level.
Note that charity law means Student Trustees can not also be employed by the Students' Union while they are Trustees.
Who would make a good Student Trustee?
This role would suit someone who is interested in learning more about the Students’ Union and how it is operated.
The Union needs Trustees who are:
- Passionate about the Union- As a trustee you must be committed to the purpose, aims and values of the students’ union.
- Detached and diplomatic - You may have firm views of your own about the Union, but you need to be ready to listen to different opinions, communicate your own diplomatically and maybe reach a different conclusion.
- Reliable - Each of the 3 Student Trustees needs to be able to commit the time and effort required to make sure it’s a worthwhile experience for them and the organisation.
- Supportive - The Trustees need to work together as a team, supporting decisions once they are made and promoting the values of the Board and the Union.
- Diligent and responsible - At times you may handle information that is sensitive and you must keep confidential. As a Trustee, you have a legal responsibility and must respect that. Together with the rest of the Board, you are responsible for a large organization which employs many people and has a turnover in the millions.
What support do Trustees get?
You can expect support and advice from Full-time Union officers and Union staff. Optional training will be available to support your role as a trustee.
You may also wish to be involved in specialist training or make use of online material that may be available through national organisations such as the NUS or the Charity Commission.
Why become a student Trustee?
As a Trustee, you will be in the centre of decision-making within the Students’ Union and will gain valuable experience. You will get to:
- Develop skills which are great for your CV, especially if you are interested in the
- NGO/charity sector.
- Learn new things including management of finances, people and strategy, as well as charity law and fundraising
- Receive a full induction to learn more about the charity and the role of Trustee
- Make a difference - you will give input to key decisions such as fundraising, future direction, structure of the organisation
- Meet new people!
- Help the Students' Union and Sussex students!
- Have fun!