Introduction from your JCR President, Luke Wagner
Hi everyone, I’m Luke and I’m your JCR President for 2017/18. As I’m sure you have been told a thousand times by now, huge congratulations on your exam results and welcome to Mary’s!
It is such a pleasure to be able to welcome you into our community here at Mary’s. No matter what your interests are, I’m sure you’ll have a brilliant university experience, and make memories and friends that will last a lifetime.
Mary’s is known across Durham University as the friendliest college, and the community spirit and welcoming atmosphere will become evident from the moment you arrive. Whether it is the team of Freshers’ Reps (‘Freps’), the JCR Executive Committee, Welfare Team, Student Support Staff or simply fellow students, there are so many people here to help you settle in and answer any questions you may have.
Starting at university, whilst exciting, can be daunting; it is completely normal to be nervous about moving away from home and into a new environment. Induction Week may certainly be overwhelming. Speaking from personal experience, I definitely struggled at points throughout first term, and it is far more common than you may think, so please remember you are not alone!
Now, a bit about me. Over my last 3 years, I’ve taken part in a lot of college activities. I’ve largely been involved with in-college events, having chaired Midsummer in my first year, Masquerade in my second year, and been Social Chair (in charge of all formals and Winter Ball) in my third year. I’ve also been in and directed a fair few productions (directing Shrek: The Panto was a personal highlight), worked on the bar, performed (to mixed reviews) in a couple of live lounges, been the Vice President of the Arts and Drama Societies, been an Open Day Rep, Frep, and made fleeting appearances for Mary’s Mixed Lacrosse and the ever-successful, all-dominating Darts D
Team (no longer in existence sadly). As you can see, Mary’s offers incredible opportunities for anyone to get involved with student activities; whether you’re a pro at handling a rugby ball, a keen piano player, or want to try something new like events management, there is bound to be something for you.
The JCR is a term that will be used a lot throughout your time at Mary’s. It stands for Junior Common Room, and is used primarily to refer to the student body. We also, somewhat confusingly, have two JCRs which are physical rooms – one in Fergusson and one in Williamson – but throughout this handbook the JCR means the student body. The JCR is run for students by students, and there are a huge variety of roles to get involved in. The process of JCR elections will be explained in greater detail when you arrive, but essentially you need to make a manifesto (‘bog sheet’), get a certain number of signatures to prove you have the support to run, then stand up and hust at a JCR meeting, which take place every few Sundays. There is an Executive Committee (‘Exec’) and Ex-Officio Committee (‘Ex-Officio’) – you’ll meet all of the elected positions later on in this handbook!
You’re probably wondering what on earth a JCR President is and what they do. I just graduated with a degree in English, having spent the last 3 years having the time of my life at Mary’s. The role of the JCR President is to oversee the student body in college, including events, sports teams, societies etc. – if it’s a part of college, I’ll be there. The primary function of the role is to act as the student representative on a staff level; I am elected to represent you, so if you have any comments about how you think the JCR could be better run, please let me know! The job lasts a year, and I live and work in college, so I’ll be around pretty much all of the time. You’ll meet the rest of the Exec and Ex-Officio Committees on this page – just so you know, all of their positions are ordered alphabetically by position name.
The best piece of advice I can give you for starting university is to relax and be yourself. As I said, I certainly struggled at points throughout my time at university, but I would not be doing this job today if I didn’t absolutely love Mary’s. You will meet like-minded people and get into your own routine; if it doesn’t happen straight away, please do not feel concerned. Some of my closest friends I only met in my second year. On that note, getting involved in different societies is a great way of meeting people in other years; one of the best aspects of the collegiate system is that it is so easy to meet people outside of your course and year group. If you do have any concerns, please do contact either myself or one of the lovely Freps or Exec members – we are all more than happy to answer any questions or make you feel more assured about coming to Durham!
When you arrive, feel free to come and see me either in the JCR office or in my flat (both are in the Fergusson building on the first floor of the West Wing, just above the Dining Hall) or catch me around at any point if you have any problems/questions, or if you just want to say hello! If you have any questions before you arrive, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring on 01913345940. No question is too small or too silly, even if it might appear so to you – if you’re thinking it, the chances are someone else is too! To answer two questions that have come up in previous years: yes, you do need to bring your own bedding, but no, you do not need to bring your own curtains…
Mary’s has become a home away from home for me over the past 3 years, and I’m so excited to welcome you into the community here and for you to experience all of the exciting and wonderful opportunities that college life offers. I can’t wait to meet you all soon, and please remember in the meantime if you (or your parents!) have questions, queries or concerns, I am only a phone call or email away.
Once again, congratulations on your outstanding results, and enjoy the rest of your summer!
JCR President 2017/18
Arts President – Katie Booth, 3rd Year Maths
Hi everyone! My name is Katie and I’m a third year maths student. So far in my time at Mary’s I’ve been involved a lot in ball committees (which I really recommend being a part of!) as well as slightly more weirdly, the beekeeping society here.
I am your Arts President for the year, so you’ll be hearing from me about art, music and theatre this year. The Arts Society has a lot to offer throughout the year, including live lounges, pop-up arts sessions, arts week and running the masquerade ball! I’d love for you to get in contact about anything arts-related you want to talk about, for example the many arts societies available at Marys! My email is email@example.com.
Enjoy your summer and see you soon!
Bar Steward – Ali Huse, 3rd Year Psychology (BSc)
Heya guys! I’m Ali, a third year Psychology student and your Bar Steward for next year. As I’m sure you’re all aware, this college has a bar on-site (I mean what else attracted you here if it wasn’t a bar so close to your room you can go to in your pj’s (or any variety of fancy dress – but you’ll discover that later!)). You may not know but the bar has recently gone through a large refurbishment and you’ll be the first freshers at Mary’s with this bar, one I really think we can be proud of. The bar is our best social space where you’ll regularly visit with any of the societies you should definitely join.
One of my main roles as bar steward involves me communicating with college staff on a variety of issues concerning the bar so when you arrive if there’s anything we don’t have that you would like to see or if you have any suggestions for improvement then I would love to hear about it!
I personally have a lot of pride in running and working at this bar and it’s genuinely a class opportunity for any Mary’s student to earn some money and gain some experience while you’re studying here. Please, please do speak to me if you have any interest in being involved with the bar!
As well as when frepping you’ll also see me around throughout the whole year, especially at formals and other college events. But feel free to get in contact with me any time if there’s something I can help with or you just want some more information!
JCR Chair – Owen MacCuish, 3rd Year PPE
Hello freshers! I’m Owen and I’m a third-year PPEist. Alongside my duties as JCR Chair, I’ll also be involved heavily in Induction Week. ‘Get you a man who can do both’ I hear you say.
It’s awesome you’ve decided to come here – there’s a lifetime of things to do here. If you want to get involved with something, it’s here. If you don’t want to get involved with anything, you probably still will. It’s not all fun and games though at Mary’s, for instance, I’ve been involved with setting up Karaoke nights and modeling in the Fashion Show for last two years running.
Additionally, every other Sunday during term time will be a date night with me for all you first year undergraduates. JCR Meetings will take place on these occasions, which provide an opportunity for you to hold the student leadership in college (the Exec) to account and influence the direction the JCR takes. Furthermore, you’ll have the ability to stand for election to a vast array of different JCR positions throughout the year, so keep an eye on your email inbox for more info.
This year, I’m really focusing on trying to empower JCR members. Whether that be running for a position, joining a committee or writing a motion, do look out for the JCR Crib Sheet that you’ll get given, which will detail what rights and privileges you have as a JCR member, and how you can exercise them.
I’ve made so many memories at Mary’s already. However, I am reminded of the time I, with no experience in baking-related endeavours, convinced someone at the Fashion Show Auction to bid £50 for privilege of me baking a cake for them. Please ask Chloe Blakesley for more details. Also I’m still yet to bake the cake.
If I had any advice to give, it would be to do things that make you want to look back and think ‘Woah, that was awesome’. Utterly, unashamedly, throw yourself in at the deep end, and I promise you that you won’t regret it.
If you’d like an A to your Q, contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
Head Female WAM Officer – Ruth Kaufmann-Wolfe, 2nd Year Geography (BA)
You’ll meet me in the Welfare at Mary’s section of the website!
Social Chairs – Georgia Hardisty, 3rd Year Combined Honours (Social Sciences) and Henry Meech, 3rd Year Geography (BSc)
Welcome to St. Mary’s! We are Henry and Georgia, both in our final years, and studying Geography and Social Sciences (Politics and Philosophy) respectively.
We are the JCR’s two Social Chairs for 2017/18. St. Mary’s really prides itself on having a tight-knit college atmosphere so congratulations on choosing us and getting in! Our job is to organise a range of social events for the college throughout the year. These will include formal dinners, themed informals, cheap nights out, and termly balls. Formals give you the opportunity to wear Harry Potter-like gowns and eat a three-course meal with your friends. If that’s not enough, our termly balls are packed with all sorts of entertainment. Over the course of the year we’ll be bringing in live bands, DJs, inflatables, fairground rides, and the occasional Katy Perry tribute; so there really is a lot to look forward to. We are always looking for people to help organise these events, so if you’re keen to get involved then we’ll be more than happy to have you on our Social Committee. Whether you want to have a say in the music acts we book, the food we serve, or the decorations we make, there are a huge number of ways to get involved.
Aside from pulling our hair out over college balls and stressing about table decorations, we are both widely involved with many other aspects of college life. Georgia is a dedicated member of St. Mary’s College Netball Club (SMCNC) and was last year’s (esteemed) D-Team Captain. All levels are welcome for college sport teams so don’t be afraid to try something new! Meanwhile, Henry rows for the college boat club, has been in four productions as part of the college ‘Foot of the Hill’ theatre company, and always gets involved with the college’s charity fundraisers. He’s also been involved with the Officers’ Training Corps, so if any of you are particularly military-minded feel free to ask about that.
We’re both more than happy to field any questions you might have about the social side of Mary’s, or anything else you think we might be able to help you with. Feel free to find us on Facebook or email us on email@example.com. We can’t wait to meet you all!
Sports Officer – Will Jollans, 2nd Year Engineering
Hey everyone, I’m Will a second year engineering student and your Sports Officer for the year. Sports at Mary’s are amazingly fun. It is really easy to get involved with any sport you would like to, from rugby and football to frisbee and cheerleading. All sports are student run and are a great way to get involved with college, meeting people from all aspects of college life! Most sport fixtures take place on the weekends, giving you a reason to get outside and away from the books. The fixtures are usually in intercollegiate leagues and all really relaxed! With sports teams not only is there enjoyable exercise, but also most teams will hold socials; there are a whole range of socials that take place, some going on bar crawls and others going to the beach. Once exams are over the fun does not have to stop with fantastic sporting events such as Festival of sport (a knockout competition of all college sports teams over the course of a day) and Trevs Varsity (a day of pitting Mary’s prowess at sport against that of Trev’s).
I hope I can persuade you to join in with Mary’s sport; you do not need to have any previous experience, please take up something new and exciting. All Mary’s sports will be at the Mary’s Freshers’ Fair, so you can wander round and join any sport that takes your fancy. Also many teams will hold taster sessions giving you a chance to try them all out without having to commit to anything. If none of our sports teams take your fancy, anyone can start their own easily! For example last year a fresher created their own Mary’s swimming club. Look forward to seeing you on the pitches! In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Students’ Union Rep – Helen Paton, 2nd Year Politics and International Relations
Hey everyone! I’m Helen and I’m a second year Politics and International Relations student here at Mary’s. Congratulations (I believe you can never hear that word too much, since you deserve it)! I wish you a very a warm welcome to all of you dear freshers, how lovely it is to have you in the friendliest college in town! It’s has been the year of my life and I’m sure you’ll be feeling the same way very soon…
I am your Senior Students’ Union Rep (known as the SU Rep) for Mary’s, which means I’m the direct link between our college and the Students’ Union, which represents the voices of the entire students in Durham with the university. This means I report back on what goes on at the SU and speak for Mary’s at general assembly meetings. These assemblies are a chance to really make changes around the university and they are open to everyone, so please do come along if you are interested in shaping our university, they really want to hear you! I’ll be doing drop in sessions a couple of times a term in case anyone want to contribute or just have a chat as well as informing you about any news and opportunities at the union.
I’ll be organizing the Mary’s team for intercollegiate University Challenge, so I’ll be searching for the fittest brains to represent our college! Anyone who is remotely interested please do get in touch; it’s great fun and a brilliant way to get involved in a team, no experience required.
In my time here I’ve been involved in a couple of societies and sports, from being captain of the women’s football team to the ball committees and Purple Radio. I really encourage you to make the most of your time here, try new things, challenge yourself and get involved with the things that make you feel passionate. There really is something for you here, and first year is definitely the place to sign up for every society. I’ll never forget being a sassy mermaid in the college pantomime or walking around the Harry Potter corridor for matriculation, you’ve made the best decision ever! Enjoy this wonderful year, can’t wait to meet you all!
If you have any questions about my role, politics or anything feel free to drop me a message, email@example.com, I’ll be waiting…
Hello everyone, and welcome to St Mary’s! My name is James and I’m a second year studying modern languages (French and German).
As your JCR treasurer for this year, I am looking after the finances of the JCR. My job is to track the income and expenditure of all sports, societies and events that occur within college (and there are quite a few Balls, which are great!). I hope that you all have a fantastic first year at Mary’s and I’d really suggest that you try and be a part of as many sports and societies as you can. Why not try something completely new (like I did with ultimate frisbee, which is a lot of fun). If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your summer and see you in October!
Vice President – Christos Christou Mavropoulos, 1st Year Computer Science
Greetings people! My name is Christos Christou Mavropoulos but you can call me Christos or Chris (I know the rest is difficult) and I’m a first year studying Computer Science. WHAT? People are suddenly confused. Well I did an extra foundation year coming from the Greek educational system. I will be your very own Vice President for the following year which means I am involved in most things around college so you can talk to me about anything! My duties range from assisting wherever I can to chair the Food and Housing committee so all in all I’m your go-to guy if you have any questions or problems.
Life at university in the first few weeks can be a daunting experience and one might get lost in the chaos of information and activities we keep throwing at you. BUT FEAR NOT! The JCR and our team is here to help you through so you can have a smooth transition into University/College life and you’ll soon come to love and adore St Mary’s College as I do. Personally, it has been a blast so far and that’s because I’ve taken advantage of what Durham and Mary’s has to offer. Staying active around the communities is the perfect way to meet new people and make new friends. There’s always something to do and something new to try so keep an eye on the Facebook page.
If you have any questions or problems don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or over Facebook: Chris Christou.