CGCA

» Issue 33: Winter 2003/04

Trials, tribulations and successes

Oliver Pell, (ISE 2000) reports on City & Guilds College Union's activities during 2002-03

The first year of City & Guilds College Union as the new Faculty Union for the Faculty of Engineering has been one of trials and tribulations, with some amazing successes.

For the first time the 'Buddies' scheme was run in all Faculty departments except Bioengineering. The scheme pairs each fresher with continuing students to help new arrivals adjust to college life as smoothly as possible, and it continues to build upon previous year's successes. 'Buddies' lunches' (or buddies' dinners in a few cases) were held for each department and were followed by a number of faculty-wide continuity events. With the Bioengineering department welcoming its first ever intake of undergraduate freshers at the start of the academic year, the Buddies scheme will be finally launched there next October.

CGCU Executive Committee members following a dinner at 170 Queen's Gate

Freshers' Ball

The first ever Faculty of Engineering Freshers' Ball was a tremendous success, with a black tie dinner attended by nearly 400 students and staff followed by afterdinner entertaimment in a marquee erected on the Queen's Lawn. The Ball managed to build well on the old C&G Freshers' Dinner and appears to have inherited successfully the tendency to sell out completely well in advance, something that bodes well for the future of the event.

In November, the Union took part in the Lord Mayor's Show for the third consecutive year, parading a float celebrating the centenary of veteran car mascot Boanerges through the City of London.

The Internship Centre has continued to meet and surpass its goals, with the Union running the first Internships Fair at Imperial College last December. The statistics make impressive reading, with the Fair receiving over a thousand visitors and the on-line site receiving some 5,000 visits from nearly 1,500 different students during the course of the year.

On the sports side, almost all departments in the Faculty participated in the famous inter-departmental football tournament. Despite stiff competition from the other 25 teams, Civil Engineering eventually returned as the victors. In the spring, a group of adventurous engineers risked the chill to take on some of the College's medical students in the 'Engineer vs. Medic Paintball'. The event was a success and looks certain to be repeated, despite attracting a lower number of participants than hoped. Most importantly, Imperial's engineers unequivocally demonstrated their superior agility, marksmanship and strategic prowess by roundly defeating the medic side!

'Tropical Flies', a team of Aeronautics students, were the undisputed winners of February's Great Egg Race after constructing an aircraft that travelled nearly half way across the lawn after being launched from the Queen's Tower balcony. The annual challenge to convey an egg from the tower to the ground safely attracted well over a hundred participants, despite barely receiving any publicity until a few days prior to event. Many of the entries performed extremely impressively, despite the gusting wind. The C&G Executive Committee team managed to produce one of the worst performing aircraft of the event, with a strange device that flew so completely out of control that it actually landed fractionally behind the position from which it had been thrown.

Sir Richard Sykes kidnapped

Rag week was witness to the traditional silliness, with C&G once again running the infamous Slave Auction and a revitalised 'Hit Squad'. The first saw a selection of Union figures offering themselves for sale for charity and offered students the questionable joy of seeing ICU Deputy President Ram Ramanan singing Britney Spears on the stage during lunch time. The Hit Squad managed a brutal reign of terror across the South Kensington campus, liberally dispensing whipped cream onto the faces of students in return for a donation.

The combination of the two raised well over 1,000 for ICU Rag, boosted in no small measure by the 150 paid out by aspiring union officers for no fewer than three very public 'hits' against ICU President Sen Ganesh. After RAG week, a special joint operation between the C&G Hit Squad and the Wye College Union Society saw Imperial's Rector, Sir Richard Sykes kidnapped and creamed in the name of Comic Relief - the single hit raising over 1,000 by itself.

Sir Richard Sykes raising 1,000 for charity by becoming - with ipressive good grace - a victim of the Hit Squad

The Union's new structure

On more serious matters, the Union's new structure has worked well. The decision to integrate the Departmental Society Committees more closely into the centre of the Union is beginning to bear fruit with increased co-operation and communication between the departmental committees, and between the committees and the management officers. Communication with the new Royal School of Mines Clubs and Societies Committee has also been excellent and it has been a pleasure to work with them.

Departmental activities have flourished, with a rejuvenated ISE Soc leaping into the fray with a series of events and a highly successful launch year for the new Bio Eng Soc. Civ Soc went on tour to Athens in the Spring while Mech Soc have become infamous for their autumn barbecue. The inaugural C&G Clubs & Societies Award was awarded jointly to EE Soc and Chem Eng Soc.

Academic representation

This year has seen a concerted effort to improve the academic representation offered to our postgraduate research students. The role of 'departmental representative' has now been explicitly split into two - resulting in separate represention for taught and research students and we have tweaked our academic representation structure to allow the two groups of reps to discuss the diffcrent issues facing them in appropriate forums. At the same time, training for the taught student representatives has been dramatically improved.

Elections were held in March and attracted a disappointing turnout because of factors that included a whole range of problems with the Imperial College Union sabbatical elections. The result pushed the definition of 'close call' to a new extreme, with only a single vote separating the presidential candidates after all votes had been counted. The result was announced at the AGM on 11 March and Shrenik Patel was elected President for 2003-2004.

Faced with the challenge of adapting to the new college structure, the Union has made outstanding progress. We have developed strong links with the Faculty of Engineering and look forward to a bright future. The new year will doubtless bring new challenges and new opportlmities. The highlights will feature in Imperial College Engineer, but you can also keep up-to-date by reading our on-line publication Live! Updated practically every day it is the most widely read student publication in the University of London.

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