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It's been an incredibly busy few months since the start of the academic year and there is plenty more to come across the next two terms. We've pulled together a list of some of the campaigns and projects we'll be working on as an officer team to ensure that we make your student experience the best it possibly can be!
Last term I began our review of democracy at the Students’ Union. We held an online survey to get your views, and our external consultant Jim Dickinson heard thoughts from student focus groups, your sabbatical officers, and Students’ Union and College staff. Next week we'll met with Jim to hear his headline findings and will receive his report with recommendations for improving our democracy very soon – watch this space!
When running to be President, I also pledged to lobby the College to ensure that its money is invested ethically, responsibly and sustainably. The College has several investments that are being managed by third party organisations, and recently chose to review how these endowment investments are being managed. They appointed an external advisor, Mercer, to carry out a high level strategy review of the College’s investment portfolio – which, thanks to voice of students, is being asked to include advising on the College’s Ethical Investment Policy. The College’s Finance Committee will meet in early March, where we expect the review report to be presented, and we hope to be presented proposals for a much better Ethical Investment Policy that actively prioritises investment in companies committed to decarbonisation.
With the College’s academic restructure being passed at College Council (the University’s governing body) last year – yes, we are in 2019! – this term is going to be crucial for the continued effort to ensure that students’ interests are at the heart of change moving forward. I will be involved in discussions establishing where certain processes sit in order to enable a greater level of efficiency and communication in the College so it can benefit you, not hinder you.
In relation to this, work will also be done to adapt our academic representation system to fit this new academic model at the College. This is a really exciting time, once again, for academic representation as it enables us to adjust to changing dynamics in order to make the system more effective, engaging and, ultimately, able to represent your academic interests to better your experience here. This will be a great discussion for Academic Rep Conference!
Elsewhere, I will be continuing my work in College Committees and Departmental Reviews where we are implementing student voice like never seen before! This term will also see key lobbying work on assessment methods come to fruition!
Term two is all about campaigns, campaigns and more campaigns!
For the first time ever, we will be launching Disability Awareness Week (4-9 February), which aims to highlight the lived experiences of students with invisible illnesses at Royal Holloway. I look forward to the exciting events available to all students, including a Disability Sports Day which is a collaborative project delivered by myself, Dom Brown (VP Sport) and the Disabled Students’ Network.
In February and March, I encourage all students to take part in supporting LGBT+ History Month, Women’s History Month and of course, our annual union-wide sabbatical officer elections. This is your chance to get involved with all the unique events and workshops happening on campus because they are not to be missed!
Holly Hughes (VP Societies and Media) and I will also continue to deliver peer to peer support training to student groups, as part of our ongoing effort to raise awareness on the importance of mental health at university. Alongside this, I will continue to fight against council tax charges imposed on final year students by Runnymede Borough Council.
I will also be lobbying for the implementation of an online reporting tool that enables students and staff to report any experiences of sexual harassment, hate crime and discrimination at Royal Holloway, and request for personal support from Wellbeing and Counselling. Lastly, I hope to initiate a soft pilot of out-of-hours parking on campus for all students towards the end of term two, which will no doubt help students who wish to study late on campus get home safely.
Last term saw the introduction of our first ever peer to peer support training being rolled out to societies, sports clubs and media outlets alike. This term will see the training sessions continue, as we aim to help support as many student groups as possible. This term will also play host to my male mental health campaign, so make sure to keep an eye out for a number of exciting events happening on campus.
I will be continuing my work on the academic societies’ minimum standards framework, engaging in meetings with departments and current committees to ensure everyone’s voice is being heard in bringing this to fruition. Alongside this, I will be working closely with the media outlets to continue moving forwards with the Studio 3 refurbishment, and meeting with representatives from Drama and College to move forward with discussions on space in a productive and collaborative manner.
Additionally, I will be leading on some of the year’s headline events, namely Varsity, where I am working to create more inclusion for societies and media outlets, and Socs Ball – I am so excited for you all to see the changes that I’ve put forward to make it the most inclusive, high quality and exciting Socs Ball yet!
This term is the term of events! We have some massive headliners that I will be leading on such as Colours Ball and Varsity which we will be looking to make as high quality as possible. The purpose of these events are to show what Royal Holloway Sport is capable of in terms of ‘on-field’ ability and the amazing surrounding events and charity work that groups involve themselves with. Another more immediate event that I am supporting is Alumni Sports Day which pips the old guard against the current students in a fantastic event which is a long standing tradition.
Alongside these events, I will be supporting the search for a new kit supplier in our upcoming kit tender. Students will be at the heart of this search as they will be asked to trial materials and give valued opinions which have already started to be collated. I will also be updating the Union’s socials policy to ensure we are appropriately supporting and protecting our groups. Finally, as always I will be lobbying for further development on our sporting facilities, and relaying the needs and wants of the students in regards to this.
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