I am just about to start my second year at Exeter, and loving every second. It is impossible to escape the presence of the 'Student Guild' (what we call our student union) - especially during the election process! Overall I believe we have one of the most personal, welcoming and exciting students union, which in my opinion is partially due to the very high student vote, turn out each year.
Who is the Guild?
The guild is elected by the student body to represent us and improve our Exeter experience; for example organising fantastic unique fun events or providing support in finding employment, and helpful advice. The guild consists of six Sabbatical Officers: The President, Deputy President, Finance, Activities and Trading Officer (FATO), Welfare Officer, Education Officer, and the AU (athletic union) President.
Whilst the Guild provide a wonderful service and put a lot of time and effort into ensuring we have a fun, problem free time, the potential candidates will drive you insane during the election process. 1000s of leaflets will be trusted in your face after stepping one foot onto campus, overly happy people in their brightly painted t-shirts will came running up to you with reasons why their friend is the best thing that will ever happen to you so you must vote for them and if you are in catered accommodation every time you go to eat the same will happen. I would advise you to take an interest in the elections, read their manifestos, and defiantly vote, but to keep your sanity I also advise avoiding eye contact and telling everyone you've already voted, during the election week.
The Fun Stuff: Balls and Societies
The Guild help run the many and varied societies (though each society has its own committee). You will be surprised by how many societies there are, many more than those listed on the website, and if there is something you want to join but can't find, contact the Guild and you can set it up yourself!! They also organise many fantastic balls throughout the year, including the infamous Safer Sex Ball - a sex themed event, where people dress in lingerie, sexy outfits, or humours fancy dress outfits (e.g. dressed as a condom). The event is a MUST, though you will have to be prepared to queue at 3am for tickets, and it is also the biggest AIDS event outside London.
Food and Shopping
The Guild run several shops on campus with profits being funded back into the Guild, helping create bigger and better events and keeping drinks prices down. The 7 shops and bars include: The Ram, an amazing on campus pub that also serves cheap yummy food, the starting place for many a social. Coffee Express, which as I'm sure you can guess serves coffee, smoothies and indulgent and healthy snacks. The Long Lounge, which I have never eaten at but they serve slightly more upmarket food. The Box Office and Print Shop. The Student shops, selling basic groceries, magazines, stationary, chocolate and pick and mix. And then finally the Lemmy which you will either love or hate, it is the student campus club that in my opinion is more like a school disco venue than a club but on the positive side very cheap drinks! Nowhere near as good as other student campus clubs elsewhere.
Help and Support
The Guild are there to support you, running a free Advice Unit for the majority of student problems, from financial or academic worries to stress - which often refer you to the university run support centres. They also run the Works which is a service aimed at helping students find part time jobs to help fund the uni experience. Volunteers are recruited to work at the Voice, which is a phone line, aimed at helping you, be it finding you a cheap pizza or listening to your worries, however they are unable to give advice on emotional issues but will listen and not judge.
The Guild help to make Exter what it is - 'probably the best university!'