Meet Alice Dee, the lovely President of Aidan's College!

This week I interviewed the lovely Alice Dee, President of Aidan’s College herself, to find out how she’s managing the task, what the role involves and why Durham is the best place to be.

Name: Alice Dee

Hometown: Patrington, a village about twenty miles east of Hull

Subject: Biology

Why did you want to be Aidan’s president?Ooh the big question! I suppose the best part for me coming to Durham was being involved in committees, the sports teams, working for the JCR. If I hadn’t done any of that stuff I probably wouldn’t have even applied for the job. Seeing the presidents before me put in so much hard work to make college life this incredible, unique experience made me want to have a go – it’s literally a dream job, getting to do all of this stuff and not having to worry about a degree!

What’s your favourite thing about the role so far?Definitely the interaction with people. The job comes with a lot of admin and organisation and paperwork, but the best thing is getting to know people and especially those who work around you. It’s amazing in the JCR because you see so many people with their own separate roles, and then it all comes together and just works.

Could you talk us through an average day as prez?Okay, so it starts with me really struggling to get up. I actually hate having to get out of bed, I’m never in the office for 9 but I always work past 5 so it’s fine. Unless I’ve got a meeting, I’ll usually start with emails – from the exec, from the JCR, Facebook messages, emails from committee leaders – there are literally so many emails. It’s mostly organising things which are happening that week, so this week there’s been a lot of Old Boys stuff, but it’s good because it means I get to do loads of different things - there’s never a day the same. Sometimes I go and work in the JCR shop or behind the bar, sometimes I have sponsorship meetings, meetings with principles or welfare… there isn’t really an ‘average day’ in this job, it entirely depends on what’s happening at that moment.

What are your plans for after this year? Are you job-hunting?If I had a quid for every time someone asked me that I would honestly never have to work. This time last year, before I got prez, I was looking for jobs, but really what I’d like to do is travel - it’s just that travelling won’t earn me any money! I’m trying to save up this year, but then I’ll probably go home for a bit and apply for jobs.

Do you know what sort of job you’ll be looking for?Well, I know that I don’t want to do biology! Being prez has made me realise how much I enjoy working with people, so maybe something in human resources, I’m not really sure.


Casting your mind back, what was it that made you want to come to Durham all those years ago?The main thing was definitely the collegiate system. I looked around Oxford and Cambridge – I didn’t apply, just to clarify! Team Durham! – and Edinburgh, which is where I had always wanted to go, but the collegiate system here was the deal-breaker. I suppose Durham’s reputation helped me make my decision as well – I wanted the best degree I could get.

Go on, sell it to us – what’s the best thing about Aidan’s college?For me, Aidan’s is the closest thing to reality. Everyone is very down to earth and relaxed, we don’t have any strict rules and we try to regulate things like the price of formals and the summer ball. It was the atmosphere at Aidan’s and the way of life here that really helped me to settle in when I was a fresher. I didn’t actually apply to Aidan’s, I originally applied to Mary’s for its tradition and to live the ‘Harry Potter dream’, but now when I look back it’s weird because what I actually love about Aidan’s is how it’s one of the lesser traditional colleges.

The next formal at Aidan’s is a ‘Fall into Fiction’ theme – what’s that about?Abi Holmes is our Formals Officer, so it’s her job to organise the logistics of formals, come up with themes, sort out submissions and arrange tables etc. The thing about themes is, you aim to choose something people can really get into, and formals are great because it’s an opportunity for people to get together; livers out come back to college for them and it’s always a really good night. It’s actually Abi’s birthday on the same day as our next formal, so we keep calling it the ‘birthday formal’ especially for her!

As it’s mid-term, lots of people are deciding where they’re going to be living next year, who with, whether they’ll return to college… what help does Aidan’s offer to students during the house-hunting period?We give out information about the different areas students can live in and give tours of those areas. We also have a guide available about living out and loads of information on our website. The aim of the campaign is to make sure people feel relaxed and reassured about trying to find a house because it can be a stressful time. The campaign covers most aspects, including even the basic things such as, do your house bills include gas/water/electric? Should you go with a private landlord? Personally I am a massive advocate for living out – I did for two years and had the best time, but there are so many advantages to living in college. It’s such a hard choice.

Finally, what is the college planning for Christmas? The build-up to Christmas in college is always really exciting. We’ve got a couple of formals, a Christmas JCR meeting and the shop are doing a ‘Christmas Jam’ – there’s so much going on. Christmas in college is definitely my favourite time of year.

Will you be celebrating at home?I’ll probably end up staying in Durham for a few days at the end of term just to get on top of some work, and it’s the PresComm social on Saturday night, just after we finish, so that will be a great way to begin the festivities. I love spending Christmas with my family. My grandparents usually come over and my sisters will be at home, and our mum is a really good cook, so I’m excited for that. All the trimmings. Every year I have a little celebration with my friends at home as well, ‘Friendmas’ on the 23rd December. We cook a Christmas dinner and do Secret Santa so that’s always really nice. Also, for the record, the term ‘Friendmas’ is mine - I coined that. I’m going away over New Year as well, so I’m excited to have some time off the.

Thanks Alice!