We catch up with Claire Tuton, BA (Hons) Visual Communication graduate who has been elected to the post of Leeds Arts Union Student President 2021/22.
Hello! I’m Claire and I’m the new Student President for 2021/22. I recently graduated from BA (Hons) Visual Communication, and have a passion for moving image and photography! Before uni I grew up on a farm in the countryside so as you can imagine coming to live in a city was a massive change for me! However, I quickly fell in love with Leeds and really wanted to stay so I ran in our student elections and luckily was voted in.
So, as the Student President I work in the Students’ Union. You might not know what this is but don’t worry I’ve got you covered! The Students’ Union is made up of the Student Liaison Officer (Ellia), two Student Liaison Assistants (Poppy and Lisa) and me! When you start at Leeds Arts University you are automatically a member of Leeds Arts Union.
This is your Union! Whether this is through representation, societies, fitness classes, campaigns, events, exhibitions fundraising, our student magazine or a whole host of creative opportunities – we’re here to support you through your University life – in whatever way that might be.
My job is to represent all Leeds Arts University students and to lead the Student Executive Team. The team are made up of students across a variety of courses who each have an individual role as well as working together to improve your experience of student life. The Exec are full of such amazing ideas, at the heart of these are your opinions and feedback, so that we always know we are organising campaigns, events, activities & societies that you want to get involved in. The Student Exec also meets regularly with the Vice-Chancellor throughout the year to share feedback and discuss all aspects of the student experience, to make sure that every voice is being heard.
It's crazy to think it’s been three years since I started my journey here at LAU. My time here flew by so fast and I look back with a huge sense of nostalgia. I remember my first day and all the nerves that come with it. It’s completely normal to feel this way and don’t be worried to make mistakes! Within my first week I managed to misread my timetable twice and felt like a complete numpty! But, it was quickly all forgotten about and I’ve never missed a class since – the workshops and staff are all so amazing that even on a questionably hungover day I still wanted to come in (yes, I really loved uni that much!).
One thing I loved about our Uni is how easy it was to make friends – not just on your course but across all the degrees. We are such a close-knit community, all sharing similar passions and interests. Everyone here is super friendly, so don’t worry about making friends – I promise it will be so easy you won’t even realise how quickly you’re making them. The Union really helped during freshers with all the events they put on, making it easy to meet people and having some fun things to do! I would recommend checking the event poster/union website and Instagram to see all the things we have on so you can get stuck in to make the most of your university experience.
Some of the freshers activities we have on this September include, yoga; soundbaths; pride packed lunch; and tie die, Hama bead, knitting and paper craft workshops as well as all the events our societies are running daily! Plus I will be running my own ‘painting with nature’ workshop where we will go and explore Sugarwell Hill, enjoying a beautiful nature walk whilst exploring our artsy side!
Okay, so final words of advice: HAVE FUN! Whilst I worked extremely hard throughout my degree and it did pay off, I do wish I had relaxed a bit more in first year and used that time to let my hair down more. Remember, whilst you’re here to get your degree, you’ve also got three years to live the student experience so make the most of it! Get involved with societies, get involved with the city, make the most of the workshops and resources, and give yourself time to relax and make memories.