The wait is over. The results are in. And after weeks of graft, taking over campus and lots and lots of campaigning we can now all finally relax in the knowledge that we know who our Students' Union Officers are going to be for 2015-2016
In the buzz of the last few weeks perhaps you’ve managed to forget what this is actually all about; so let’s take a look at those all-important policies and sprinkle in a little bit of opinion on the side. Which policy are we most looking forward to?
Let the Aftermath, begin!
· Concise and accessible online system
· Increased provisions for students when buying houses
· Extension of Week One into Welcome Fortnight
· Catering for your needs
Opinion: So here we have the vibrant Angharad Smith who has successfully been elected as the Student’s Union’s President for 2015-2016, beating off a number of worthy candidates. Hats off to Angharad! Perhaps one of Angharad’s most exciting proposals is to change “Week One” into “Welcome Fortnight” for Freshers just starting at the University in September. The idea is to extend out the Fresher experience and lobby the University to reduce lectures in the first week. To me this would be a brilliant solution to the issues that the current system has: ending up missing important lectures the morning after a night out; not being able to attend the varied events that are on offer due to it all being crammed into one week. Whilst this isn’t a complete overhaul; such an ambitious expansion would take a lot of hard-work, commitment and determination to complete successfully. Fingers crossed Angharad has the magic to make this a reality!
· Transparency (a selection of examples includes: introduction of a module review system and eliminate hidden costs of course material)
· Better resources (a selection of examples includes: pushing all schools to record lectures and push for within-school book fairs)
· Greater support (a selection of examples includes: equal support for joint honours students and academic support to those heavily involved in extra-curricular activity)
· Career opportunities (promote a broader focus of career opportunities)
Opinion: So, man with a plan, has some exciting and unique policies which he is looking to implement and I would like to take a particular focus on the idea of pushing all schools to record lectures and to give equal support from both schools of a joint honours student as these are both issues which affect a lot of people including myself.
Firstly the continuing push for recorded lectures is something which is vital in ensuring the success of students as well rounded people – that is to say University isn’t just about your degree but also the activities and experiences you partake in outside of your studies (some may say these are often even more important). Often however these can clash with lectures and there is then pressure to miss what might be an event of greater importance, as often notes from friends or a simple PowerPoint presentation from the lecture are not sufficient enough to gain an understanding of what is being taught during that session. This will be a difficult and long process; but let’s all hope that Dan the man can push on!
Something which will most likely be easier to pursue is the idea of pushing schools of Joint Honours students to give equal support. As a joint honours student myself I’ve often had varying degrees of support from either side of my course without there being any real consistency which can cause problems. I would push Dan’s ideas further and ask for better collaboration between schools as well, as far too often messages from either side can be mixed and often clash with one another.
Equal Opportunities and Welfare
· Inclusivity (JCR involvement in Week One)
· Awareness (improve access to support services available for Mental Health)
· Safety (lights on the downs and an emergency button)
· Transparency (SU hub on Jubilee)
Opinion: It seems that Sarah has managed to pick up the position of Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer with a keen sight on what she wants to do in her role to help improve the University for its students. Of course, it is important that she continues to further awareness and accessibility about an issue that often goes by silently – mental health. But, in terms of new ideas I personally believe Sarah has hit the nail of the head with her efforts to get the JCR more involved in Week One and furthering the claim for an SU hub on Jubilee.
From my experience, I had little interaction with the JCR within my halls and I feel this is something that should be addressed as they should be a presence which everyone feels they can place trust in and be safe in the knowledge knowing they’re going to put on some quality events that a lot of people will attend. In this sense, great awareness of who is part of the JCR and an acknowledgment of what they do would definitely mean a greater affiliation for a person’s hall which can only be a positive.
Finally we come onto something which I believe would be a vital addition to the University. As we expand it only makes sense to expand our facilities and it baffles how there isn’t some form of SU presence on Jubliee Campus already. I imagine this will be one of those things that takes an intense amount of planning and approval but it makes sense – Jubilee is an attractive setting and it’s relatively close to the bustling student community of Lenton and would make it easier for people to get the support they need without having to always trek to campus. We know you can do it Sarah!!!!
· New multi-functional venue and performance space
· Summer Societies/SRS Festival
· Online Calendar Room Booking Service
· SU Graphics Service
· Interactive and Tailored Welcome package
· Bringing societies to those far reach places (Sutton Bonington and privately owned halls of residence for example)
· Greater connection to Alumni Networks
· Greater support for students heavily involved in the SU during exam periods and deadlines
· Maximising Society Accessibility and Exposure
· Improving Committee Training
· Collaboration Fund
Opinion: I can’t say I’ve met the man in person but Rob seems a committed and driven guy (which can be seen in the ambition of some of his ideas) so hopefully he can translate this into his year as Activities Officer. It’s his first two points that have really struck gold for me: a new multi-functional venue and performance space and an SRS Festival.
The University of Nottingham has long needed a performance space that is worthy of its prestigious name as a university and for me current places such as the Den just don’t cut it and I feel this is something which Rob himself has really latched onto. Having a swanky, accessible and attractive venue would mean that not only students would have more desire to visit the venue, but also popular acts may see a more professional, high quality venue as being incredibly beneficial to them (events to boost their popularity and have an on campus presence perhaps). Once a buzz had been created then the legacy would hopefully be set on course and I feel if Rob can pull this off then we could have a new Andy Hoe on our hands.
His second point which I’d like to focus on is again incredibly ambitious and would require a lot of work – both grafting and in terms of organisation. An SRS festival would be simply incredible and would boost even further the reputation of Nottingham having a vibrant social scene, allowing us to compete with other universities who already have their own thriving SRS festivals. We’ve all seen the continuing success of NoTomorrow Festival, so why can’t we run our own? This is a question that hopefully Rob will be looking to provide the initial answers and groundwork for.
· Fairness in housing (a selection of examples includes: pressure the council for a compulsory landlord register and presentations at university halls of residence as a way of providing more accessible housing advice for first years)
· Fairness in transport (a selection of examples includes: improve the level of hopper bus provision and enable students to get a free parking permit where this is necessary)
· Fairness in employment (a selection of examples includes: pressure the university to pay all staff the living wage and respect that students value the flexibility of zero-hour contracts)
· Fairness in safety (a selection of examples includes: increase the amount of cycle lanes of popular routes and liaise closely with local authorities to ensure students feel safe when returning home at night)
· Fairness in health (a selection of examples includes: find out what more can be done to support mental health services and see if a way can be found to share patient data between GPs so students don’t have to continually re-register at home)
· Fairness in fun (a selection of examples includes: bigger and better bar space to replace the existing Mooch and work to ensure post-grad, mature and international students feel properly integrated into welcome wee)
Opinion: Mr Community – Sam Peake – has set out his goals simply and plainly but with authority and I really get the sense that the guy is passionate about what he wants to achieve in his year as an SU Officer which is what it’s all about really. The one point I’d like to focus a lot on is the idea of hosting presentations at university halls of residence as a way of providing more accessible housing advice for first years.
Choosing a house for my second year was one of the things I struggled most with and it wasn’t just the housing itself but also the people I wanted to live with (a lot of different options). Of course, it’s all part of the experience: finding out for yourself which areas are the main student hubs, where is best to live, which houses are worth the money and which aren’t. But put this aside for one moment; I and many others, didn’t receive any advice as to what we should be looking for and what we should avoid (common signs that a landlord wasn’t as they seemed perhaps) and it left us all a little clueless when it first came round to deciding for next year. Everything seemed so rushed – when should we have signed up for a house by? Are we paying too much? What should I expect for my bills? All of these questions and many more could be answered by presenting a simple presentation which just goes through a number of basic points about second year housing – what to expect and as a means of preparation. I feel this is the avenue Sam is aiming for and he really has targeted something that is often neglected – it’s daunting having to sign for your first proper house at 18 you know!
· Develop a UoN Sports App
· Alternative roles in sport (coaches, officiating)
· More flexible gym memberships
· Rebrand the IMS Sports Programme
· Improve integration between JCR and Society Sport Secs – hall and society varsity series
· Support officers aiming to address lecture recordings and provision of hall dinners
· Work with clubs to develop a standardised handover procedure
· Collaborate with NSTV, Impact and URN to increase coverage
· Work to further improve kit provisions for all clubs
Opinion: James was a lively candidate and now he has officially won his post, he’ll be able to get the ball rolling with a number of innovative ideas that he has put forward in his manifesto. It’s difficult to pinpoint particular policies as they are all rather necessary, however for me personally I’m excited to see how James goes about collaborating with NSTV, Impact and URN to increase coverage and more flexible gym memberships.
In terms of media coverage, the challenge here for me is not implementing the change but the actual organisation of it – it’s going to be vital that James is on the ball (punny) by ensuring that each media institution sticks to a strict schedule of writing reports/providing live coverage for example. In my opinion there also needs to be a fairly standardised method of presenting this information across all sports, be it on the radio or within Impact as this then make everything a lot more accessible for people. The importance lies not in showcasing different sports celebrities and features on specific sports teams but in actually providing consistent, easy to access coverage on a regular basis for the different sports across the university.
Then we come to the controversial debate about gym memberships and how they are compulsory for people who are members of university sports’ teams. Now I understand the logic behind it, however I don’t feel members should be forced to use the university’s facilities and at the very least there should be the option to tailor your membership to your needs if you do have to buy one. It remains to be seen how exactly James wants to shake this up a little bit and it’s going to be a difficult one after last year’s overhaul of the system (from the original, Gold, Silver and Bronze packages) proved.
Edited by Harriet Dunlea