When I first started at Aston University, it was literally a matter of days before I first heard the phrase "d-sec" uttered. What I quickly learnt was that "d-sec" wasn’t some kind of abbreviation for the word ‘dissection’, but an old, affectionate term for Aston’s Administrative/Secretarial Liaison Group (ASLG) and I soon discovered that the Group is quite a force within the University!
The Group was formed in 1983 as a result of a meeting between the Vice-Chancellor (then Sir Frederick Crawford) and the departmental secretaries from academic departments (hence "d-sec"!). Following this meeting, a secretarial network was created, with the idea that the group would meet on a regular basis and therefore act as an effective communication channel between all administrative, secretarial and clerical staff within the University. The ASLG also exists to promote good practice and provide opportunity for interdepartmental networking.
The ASLG created its own email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that information could be exchanged and disseminated quickly, and where relevant, passed on to staff in each area within the University to raise awareness of particular issues. A year after its inception, the ASLG elected its first Chairperson (Vera Humphries) and Vice-Chairperson (Helen Turner) to serve a 12-month period. Currently the Chair is Jane Greenway (LHS) and Vice-Chair is Jackie Bosworth (LHS). ASLG meetings take place at least once a term and are always held at lunchtime, providing excellent networking opportunities. Outside of these meetings the ASLG are in constant communication with each other to aid the dissemination of information and there’s currently a total of 46 ASLG members.
Over the years, the Group has been fundamental to assisting change within the University. The ASLG has been consulted on matters such as the introduction of new technology, the merging of academic departments, and the introduction of policies such as the No Smoking Policy and the Support Staff Policy. Most recently the Group has been consulted about various ideas put forward through Aston’s ideas generation initiative ‘Bight Ideas’. Speakers from all areas of the University are regularly invited to attend (or request to attend) meetings to provide information on issues or change within the University. Talks have included topics such as the Staff Volunteering Scheme, the new staff Intranet, equal opportunities, and the role of the BPU. These talks have proved to be invaluable as ASLG members are then as informed as possible and they are then able to return to their departments and relay the information to their colleagues.
The ASLG is always willing to consider any topic relevant to the working lives of secretarial, clerical or administrative staff within the University and welcomes any suggestions for further discussion. The Group is also looking for new members to ensure representation right across the University. If you have an issue which you would like the group to investigate, would like further information on the Group and its activities, or would like to join the ASLG, please contact Jane Greenway on ext 4123 or Jackie Bosworth on ext 4079.
Words by Louise Russell