My first term as your President has been a challenging but incredibly rewarding one. I was able to spend Freshers' week meeting new students, helping with move-ins, driving the SHHH Bus to get students home safely and getting involved in so many exciting events.
After the successful launch of the Big Bucks Meal Deal, where we dropped the price of our food and launched free hot meals to give out to our members, I was involved with further talks with the University. After more negatiations, I was able to secure a pay rise for all student staff to a minimum of £10.90 p/h, which was a huge win for the Union and our students.
Myself, and other members of the Union, attended meetings with Thames Valley Police (TVP) around spiking and our safety measures during night time events. These concluded in TVP informing us that we have the safest venue in town with the least reported incidents, which is something we are very proud of.
Before Christmas I was very busy with meetings wrapping up the end of the calendar year. I attended Council, where I presented a paper to the board discussing the successes we had achieved, such as the roll out of the free meals and the increased budget of the hardship fund, and discussed the positive impact of The Big Deal.
The final part of my paper challenged the University on the inadequacy of their counselling services as well as their lack of academic support for students suffering in the cost-of-living-crisis, which prompted the University to contact the counselling services and open discussions about how much funding they need to update their databases, and prompted a wider discussion about staff needing better training on how to signpost students.
The need for academic support in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis was taken to the University Senate, where it was agreed that financial hardship is now an accepted reason for applying for an extension or mitigating circumstances. However, in the UK with lots of workers strikes planned, which can be detrimental to students needing access to campus to complete assignments, I will be pushing for even further help for students with assignments such as blanket deadline extensions.
I also completed my Movember challenge, where I came into the office with a full face of special effects makeup for the entire day and got a lot of funny looks.
I also set the plans in motion to create a 24-hour accessible ‘Safe Space’ in the reception of Windsor House for students to access when they’re feeling vulnerable and need a warm, safe place to go. This should be opening soon.
Looking ahead into the second term, I have lots of top-level university meetings to prepare for, as well as campaigns around hidden disabilities and inclusivity, which I’m really excited to share with you soon.
Thank you for a fabulous first term, on to the next!
- Charlotte, your Students' Union President