Introduction from the JCR President, Joe Castledine
First of all, a huge congratulations on your results and securing a place at St Mary’s College! We really can’t wait to welcome you into our community come September, where I’m confident that each and every one of you will find your place here and within the wider University.
My name is Joe and I’m your JCR President for this next academic year. Undoubtedly, most of you will be sat there wondering just what a JCR President is? In brief, my job this year is to oversee and look after the undergraduate student body within Mary’s, known as the Junior Common Room. Whether it’s sports clubs, drama, large-scale events, college formals, welfare or music, it all falls under the blanket of the JCR, and it’s my job to oversee all of these aspects of student life.
A bit about me…. I graduated from Durham and Mary’s this summer gone by with a degree in Philosophy, and I can honestly say without question, it has been the best 3 years of my life. This by no means has meant that the past 3 years have been plain sailing. In fact, some of the situations you will find yourselves in during your time here will be some of the toughest, but this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. It’s through the constant support, dedication and opportunities provided by the JCR, that so many people leave Mary’s after 3 or 4 years with a significant lasting impression. So from someone who has reaped the unique benefits of the JCR for the last 3 years, I’ve got the best job in the world this year, and it’s nothing short of a privilege to welcome you.
From the moment you arrive at Mary’s in late September, you will quickly understand why we have a reputation for being the most friendly and welcoming college across Durham. On arrival, our Freshers reps will enthusiastically be on hand to welcome you with open arms (in a socially distanced fashion aha), and along with the welfare team and JCR exec, will provide to you an unrivalled and unique start to university life during your induction week. It’s from this week onwards that it becomes clear that Mary’s is far more than just a physical college. See induction week as a springboard, where you will then go onto meet other year groups, discover the extensive support networks available, and the exceptional social opportunities. However, I can’t express enough, that your university experience is not defined by your freshers week!
It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of activity in your first week of University. However, I just want to reassure you, do not panic! It’s an impossible task to do everything that will be thrown your way in induction week. The people are new, the place is new, and you are bound to feel slightly on edge. Whether it’s that academic advisor meeting you missed, the college health & safety talk you accidentally slept in for, the next-door neighbour you’ve already forgotten the name of, the favourite sport you forgot to sign up for at the freshers fair. Do not stress! We’ve all been there, and believe it or not, every individual helping you through your first-year journey has been in the same position as you.
However, if there is one piece of advice I’d give you for your first week at Mary’s, I’d just say be yourself. The person you first meet might not become your best friend, you might not have the most comfortable induction week experience, or it might take you longer to find the people you best connect with, but by being yourself, you will find your place. I myself didn’t have the ‘extra,’ ‘sensational’ freshers week that is sold by many people, but over time I found so many people who I love to bits, and I’m now in this position welcoming and helping all of you at the start of your university journey. Trust the process, and things will work out!
That being said, I’ll be living and working in college throughout the year, so please feel free to drop into my office or flat whenever you want or need. Trust me, I can’t wait to get to know you all. I’m always around with a vast array of drinks, snacks and unrivalled chat. My flat and the JCR Office are located on the first floor West Wing of the Fergusson building, directly above the dining hall. I’m working throughout the entire summer leading up to the academic year, so if you want any questions answering at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me via my email. No matter how big or small the question is, I want you all to feel as comfortable as possible on arrival, so no question is too silly.
It might sound extreme, but I can’t express or convey just how much Mary’s, its people, and staff have provided for me, and being able to provide the same opportunities, experiences and support to you for the coming year is the greatest privilege. No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you’re interested in or where your talents lie – you are always welcome at Mary’s. Congratulations again, and enjoy the rest of your summer. I cannot wait to meet you all soon!
JCR President 2020/21
Vice President: Sam Farrington, Maths, 4th Year
Hi everyone! I’m Sam, a fourth-year maths student, and I’m going to be your JCR Vice President for this academic year. Congratulations on your fabulous results, particularly in these uncertain times. You really have championed against the odds and I can’t wait to meet you all in late September!
So, what do I actually get up to as Vice President? I will be working alongside Joe, our President, to ensure that students at Mary’s have the best possible experience. This includes sitting on Food & House committee where we talk about what is going well in terms of the operational side of college and where some things may be going a bit amiss. Most notably this involves discussing the ever-important college food! I also have numerous smaller roles in the JCR including managing room bookings for societies, organising college tours and taking minutes at JCR meetings. I help facilitate college events and work alongside our Social Chairs Helena and Megan to ensure that formals and other events run smoothly. I’ll be living in college next-door to Joe this year, so I shouldn’t be too hard to find. Please feel free to ask me any questions (no matter how seemingly trivial!) if you see me about or email me at email@example.com.
Mary’s has offered me so much during my time here. I’ve been involved with numerous sports clubs including ultimate frisbee, rowing and rugby and have worked on our wonderful college bar for the past couple of years. The most important bit of advice that was given to me after arriving at Mary’s was just give something a go, you never know but it might just be the thing that piques your interest and at worst you’ll know you don’t like it – which can be equally helpful. Personally, I’d never played ultimate frisbee before coming to Durham, tried it at college level and went on to represent the university in my second year.
But do be honest with yourself and don’t feel the need to throw yourself into things aimlessly. Coming to university is a big adjustment and it will take some time to find your own rhythm. Three years ago, I was daunted by the prospect of being dropped off in a new place with so many new faces to get to know. And, admittedly I never got to know all the people I met during my Freshers’ Week but after a bit of time, the pieces began to settle in to place and I have loved my time so far at Mary’s. We are very fortunate to have a college community full of incredibly talented people (both staff and students alike) who actively contribute to making Mary’s such a great place to be through helping to organise events, sports clubs and societies. I hope that you will find Mary’s to be friendly and welcoming, and that you enjoy the years that you spend here as much as I have.
Once again, congratulations on your amazing results and I can’t wait to meet you all in late September. Welcome to Mary’s! See you soon!
Bar Steward: Louisa Farthing, Marketing, 3rd Year
Hi everyone, I’m Louisa, a soon to be third year Marketing student and your Bar Steward for the following year! I firstly would like to congratulate you on your results and that we’re so excited to meet you all in September. My last two years have been some of the best years of my life because of the people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had and the memories I’ve made all by coming to St Marys. The JCR really offers experiences like no other, of which I am very grateful for and I only hope your time at Durham is the same.
As I mentioned, I am your Bar Steward for the next year, which means I’m in charge for all things Mary’s Bar. If you haven’t seen it, whilst small, our bar is a great place for Marys students (livers in and out) to come and be together. We put on lots of events throughout the year such as; pub quizzes, karaoke and sports viewings to name a few! We are a bar run by students for students and are always looking to expand our team; which I found a great way to meet people across years and other colleges, whilst earning some extra money.
Moving to university can be stressful and nerve wracking but I urge you to take up all the experiences the FREP team are working so hard to provide for you. Trying a new sport or activity could just unlock a new passion in you because there really is something for everyone. I was incredibly nervous when I moved in, but everyone was so inviting and welcoming my anxiety soon left and I was able to meet some amazing people.
Throughout freshers (and most of the time) I’ll behind the bar to make sure you guys have a safe week. If you have any questions about the bar, Marys or anything really, I’m more than happy to help.
Senior Welfare Officer: Amy Harris, History, 4th Year
You’ll meet me in the Welfare section of the website!
JCR Chair: Ben Summer, Law, 3rd Year
Hi everyone! My name is Ben and I’m your JCR Chair for the next year. This basically means I’m in charge of all the meetings, elections and various procedures that might initially sound quite weird and confusing! My aim across this year will be to demystify these and help to make the JCR accessible to everyone.
You might be wondering what actually happens in JCR meetings and why you should be interested – the best introduction I can give is that everything that happens in college is affected by the JCR in some way. Formals, balls, sports, societies, welfare catering, the bar – the list really goes on and on.
With that in mind, the candidates elected in JCR elections have a direct and very real impact on your Mary’s experience. You’ve probably seen in college brochures and videos that Mary’s prides itself on being friendly, and this really is true – it’s one of the many reasons that I genuinely love College and why it feels like a home away from home for so many of us. I believe that a huge part of our friendly and welcoming environment is down to the fact that so many of our students dedicate huge amounts of time and effort to improving college life through the JCR.
That’s why, throughout the year, you’ll hear from me quite a lot encouraging people to run for roles or submit motions (for example, to start a new society). I hope I can make it clear that Freshers absolutely can be active in the JCR and you don’t need prior JCR experience to run for a role. I understand that the whole process can initially seem a bit unfamiliar and daunting. This is why new students should hopefully be receiving a handbook written by myself and Helena Bland (the Assistant Chair) explaining some of the jargon and processes – additionally I’m planning to hold a Practice JCR Meeting (at time of writing, I’m not sure whether this will be online or in person!) to help you understand how it all works. You can also see some info on the “JCR Meetings” section of the website.
Just as an overview, meetings happen either twice or three times a term and they’re a great opportunity to learn about candidates running for roles, as well as hear updates from JCR Officers and ask them any burning questions. I strongly believe that the more people get involved, the more competitive the elections are, the better say you get in your college life. I look forward to seeing many of you, either in person or virtually, at our meetings across the year! (They’re also compulsory lol).
My main goal is to be an approachable and friendly face. No question is too “out there,” and if there is anything I can do to explain the JCR procedures or help you find the confidence to get involved, please please please let me know! You’ll see this support advertised more formally (i.e. through public speaking support for prospective candidates) but you can literally drop me a DM on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll probably get used to seeing me around college too – feel free to approach me in person as well! I love being able to help people to get involved with our fantastic JCR and I’d be very happy to hear from any of you!
I hope that you have a fantastic time at Mary’s – it won’t be long before you’re looking back to your time living in college and your time involved in our wonderful community as a happy memory. Finally, please know that our Welfare Officers and college support staff are always here if you’re struggling with anything – this can happen to all of us and there’s absolutely support for you if you need it.
Social Chairs: Megan Titterington, Ancient History, 3rd Year & Helena de Gorrequer Griffith, Liberal Arts, 3rd Year
Hey everyone! First of all we want to offer a massive congratulations and we both cannot wait to welcome you to St Mary’s College later this year. We’re Helena and Megan, your co-Social Chairs for 2020/21 and we have loved our time at Mary’s so far and we are both certain that you will too.
As Social Chairs our role is to ensure the smooth running of almost all college events, including the Midsummer Ball alongside all social dinners, informals, formals and bops. From dressing up to the nines in formalwear and gowns to devising your best halloween costume we have just about got it covered for you! We cannot wait to show you what the social scene is like in college and we hope that you will enjoy all events that college has to offer. The Social Committee, open to everyone, also provides amazing opportunities to help with preparation for events including filming a promo trailer for the balls and making decorations for the dining hall and we hope to see you getting involved.
As well as being Social Chairs, we both have been actively involved in college life! Both of us work for the college, with Megan working as Mary’s bar staff and Helena as a Library Assistant and we were also Head of Decorations for Mary’s Day together in our first year. Megan has been involved with Mary’s Rowing since the beginning and cannot decide whether she loves rowing or social committee more! Megan has also been involved in every single ball committee since arriving as a fresher as well being a Freshers’ and Post Offer Visit Day Representative. This previous year Helena chaired the stunning Masquerade Ball as Events Manager in SMC Arts Society and has been social members of clubs like Mary’s Rowing and Mary’s Frisbee (she’s just THAT dedicated to the social life at college!). Helena has stayed true to her Art History roots as she is also the Vice-President of SMC Arts Society this year as well as Publicity Officer for DUAS.
Megan’s favourite event at Mary’s is the ever-wholesome President’s Guest Night Formal – the Mary’s community is just the best! Helena’s favourite event at Mary’s (quite predictably) is Masquerade Ball as it allows creativity to truly take centre place!
Sports & Societies Officers: Sara Crozier, Natural Sciences, 3rd year & Hannah McQueen, Maths, 3rd year
Hello freshers. You’ve made it to one of the top universities in the country and arguably the best and friendliest college within it (in our totally unbiased opinion), so a massive congratulations and the warmest of welcomes! We are Hannah and Sara, your Sports and Societies Officers for this year. Our role means that we overlook all the magnificent sports clubs and societies at Mary’s, so we’ll be running the Mary’s fresher’s fair (whether that’s virtual or in-person), introducing new sports and societies, advertising college and uni-wide sporting opportunities, and ensuring that you can make the most of your time here at Mary’s. Here’s some information about who we are:
Hannah – I’m a third year studying Mathematics and I love throwing myself headfirst into all the sporting opportunities at Mary’s. During the last two years I’ve participated in both University and College level sports, including tennis, badminton, squash, frisbee, rounders and boxing. Being a member of different sports clubs has been the highlight of my university experience, allowing me to get to know people across subjects and years, as well as indulging my intense competitivity. Whether you want to pick up a sport for the very first time or compete for the university, I’m here to answer all your questions. And whilst my complete lack of musical or artistic talent means I’ve not participated in many societies; Mary’s is bursting with fantastic societies for you to enjoy, from Chapel Choir to Beekeeping to MarioKart; there’s endless possibilities.
Sara – I am a third year studying Natural Sciences (Earth Science and Geography) and I have very much made the most of the clubs that our amazing college has to offer. Over the past two years I have been involved in college football, hockey, basketball, and lacrosse, as well of numerous societies including chapel choir, WAM, and our theatre company, Foot of the Hill. I even ventured up to DU women’s football and was the treasurer for the club in my second year. As well as all of this, I still managed to do a degree. If I can do it, you can do it! As an avid member of myriad college sports and societies, they have given me the opportunity to start new hobbies, make countless friends who I otherwise would not have met and let my creative and competitive sides reign free, but most importantly I had fun. Mine and Hannah’s experience across the board will help us keep you informed and answer any questions you may have about how these aspects of our college works.
Mary’s clubs and societies pride themselves on being inclusive, accommodating, and welcoming so there really is something for everyone. Whatever your hobbies or interests, you will find a club for you with our wide range of sports offered, a plethora of different music and arts societies and other clubs such as a Christian Union, Mary’s Dance, and more, with each having their own socials. The clubs on offer are part of our JCR and are student led but if you realise we don’t have the sports team or society that you’re looking for, then you can make your own! Just speak to us about how to get your organisation ratified and finding funding and equipment, your wish is our command. Another part of our role is to work closely with Team Durham staff advertising opportunities, meaning you can take your sport to another level. Whatever your goal we are here to help.
One important thing to remember – Fresher’s is a great opportunity to jump into sports and societies, but it is not your only chance! We’re aiming to run a ReFreshers Fair in January to give you another chance to join clubs you may have previously missed, but you can join clubs and societies at any time, in the middle of term or in second and third year. If you want to join in but can’t find out how, just drop us a message and we’ll make sure you find your way to that society’s meeting or sports club’s practice.
Keep an eye out throughout the year for our updates on sports teams and societies. There are so many exciting events during the year. These include: Tri-48 (a charity 48 hour triathlon run by DUCK, our charity committee), the Durham-York Varsity (the best college teams in each sport head up against York college teams, last year Mary’s competed in Badminton, Squash and Tennis), the Mary’s-Trev’s varsity (our annual opportunity to decimate Trev’s sports teams, we are the reigning champions), and Festival of Sport (a uni-wide competition where all of the colleges compete to win the title). For being one of the smallest colleges, Mary’s sure does excel over a wide range of sports, lets continue this sporting success!
We will see you all at the Fresher’s Fair in Fresher’s week (virtual or not), remember to get stuck in but mostly importantly enjoy it and HAVE FUN, first year will be one of the most incredible years of your life but we assure you it goes by far quicker than you think! This year will certainly be somewhat different, but we’ll be making sure that sports and societies still operate as normally as possible whilst keeping everyone in our community safe.
If you have any questions, ideas, or concerns; or if you want a familiar face to talk to if the first week is a bit overwhelming, drop us a message at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Students’ Union Rep: Ben Sharp, Politics, 3rd year
First and foremost, well done on getting you’re A Level Grades and securing your place at Durham and St Mary’s College (the best and friendliest college).
My name is Ben, but everyone calls me Sharpie around here for some reason and I’m your Senior Student Union Representative! What the heck does that mean I hear you say. Well basically I represent St Mary’s College on the SU Assembly where in the previous year we have voted on issues ranging from decolonising the curriculum to boycotting Barclays Bank due to their promotion of fossil fuels. I communicate all issues from the SU to St Mary’s and vice-versa. If any of you would like to propose a motion during this academic year, please do get in touch with me and we can discuss the best way of doing so. I also run the University Challenge Trials for St Mary’s College, so any keen quizzers keep your ears peeled for any news relating to that. I will also be holding drop ins every two weeks for you to discuss with me any issues relating to the SU.
A bit about me, I am a third year Combined Honours in Social Sciences Student with a focus on History and International Relations. I am part of the Darts and Football Clubs. For this year I am also your Disabilities Representative where you can find my other bio on the ex-officio page. Outside of Mary’s I am a keen American Football player as well as Head of Sport for Purple Radio. If any of you are interested in any of the above activities or anything SU related please do get in touch with me via my email Benjamin.email@example.com.
Treasurer: Max Rose, Chemistry, 2nd Year
Hello everyone! I’m Max, a second year studying chemistry and I will be your JCR Treasurer for this coming year. First and foremost, a huge congratulations on getting into Durham and St Mary’s, especially given the circumstances! I’ve had an amazing time so far and I’m sure you will too.
As JCR Treasurer, I’m essentially responsible for managing the JCR’s accounts which involves a number of different tasks. This includes budgeting for the variety of clubs and societies, as well as all the events put on in college throughout the year. There is also a fair bit of admin work (which I don’t mind!) – setting up payments, reconciling transactions, responding to reimbursement forms and so on. Another important aspect is the Finance Committee – this is a group of both exec and non-exec members which helps to fairly allocate funds to clubs, societies and committees.
If any of this sounds interesting and you would like to get involved, you can run for Assistant Treasurer or apply to be on the Finance Committee this term. It’s a great way to get involved in the JCR and you can really have an impact.
If you have any questions about the JCR’s finances, chemistry or college life in general, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a message on Facebook.
Arts President: Angelica Southwood, English Lit & History, 3rd Year
Hello everyone! I’m Angelica, a third year English Lit and History student, and I am the President of St Mary’s College Art Society, better known as SMCAS, for 2020-21.
Sending you all the biggest congratulations for getting into Durham, in what can only be described as an unforgettable year, and a massive welcome to St Mary’s College – I am so excited to meet you all! As Arts President my role is to look after all of the societies at Mary’s which fall under this umbrella and to ensure that our college is jammed full of creative opportunities for you to get involved with throughout the year. In fact, even in Fresher’s Week, you will find a range of arts events to welcome you, so please do come along! Whether music, fine art, drama or dance is your thing, or maybe you are eager to try something completely new in a relaxed setting, the vibrant art societies at Mary’s have something for everyone. 100% they are where some of the best university memories are made, are a great way to meet new people, and are also a wonderful way to destress when those deadlines approach. Our college is one of the most welcoming, and carefree communities you could ever be a part of, and we are a tight knit family that definitely loves to show off our creative talent in all of its wonderful forms!
If what I have said about the arts at St Mary’s sparks your interest a great place to find out more is definitely our social media, or you can always email me with any questions, big or small, at the email below. Once again, I am really looking forward to meeting you all in just a short time now and would love to see you getting stuck in – you won’t regret it. Here’s to a great year of arts!
My email: email@example.com