Apologies for the delay in this post. I have been dealing with a couple of personal things, and therefore this post seemed to fall behind schedule.
October was definitely more relaxed than September with Freshers now past us. However, this is when I knew students would begin to engage directly with me and I wasn’t wrong!
On the first day of October, I took annual leave so I could enjoy Freshers as just ‘Lottie’, rather than VP Ed Dem which was really nice and allowed me to enjoy my first ever Freshers experience. I also spent some time after on the Elections stall promoting our Autumn Elections. I remember my first Autumn Elections and running for a Course Rep which I won with no need to campaign. It was important for me to see the ‘SUSU’ side of how Autumn Elections ran to see how students viewed it and how I could encourage more first-years to get involved in Elections. I am excited to see the report of how many students nominated themselves, voted, and if there was an increase in nominations from first years. On a more university level, I attended my first University Senate meeting which was very information-heavy and overwhelming – but it would be to discuss the University’s strategy!
I started actual work with CHEP this month in the format of working with them for their Education for All working group. I am very excited about this project as it brings together all of the important stuff about education, making sure it is inclusive and accessible to all students. This is a project that Savanna, our VP of Welfare and Community, is also working with me on so I’m very excited about having two Sabbatical Officers on this working group.
I also visited the Boldrewood Campus (no comment about the tunnel – not that there is one…). It isn’t far from Highfield but it does feel far out if you had lessons in each campus, it would make me wonder if students who studied on Boldrewood felt isolated from students studying at Highfield or Avenue.
I attended a webinar about how I can represent students post-Covid which felt more like a ‘show and tell’ than a useful webinar. Rather than explaining ideas and holding a discussion, it felt more like “this is what we did, it works, trust us” which some of their projects did not work for us. This has made me want to be more careful about joining webinars because I want to make sure they are actually useful and will support me in becoming a better student representative.
What was exciting about this month is that I finally met our elected Student Leaders! After the lunch and chat, we all met with the VP of Education where some important discussions were had and I think we all left feeling like we had some answers to our questions. It was great for me to first-hand see students leading discussions and telling senior leaders what they want and why they should support them. One of the things I really wanted to do last year as a student was getting more students reporting concerns themselves, though I am always more than happy to advocate for any student who needs help.
I started some real discussions about my workaround Personal Academic Tutors this month. I met with a university staff member and we discussed job descriptions, future training, PAT workload, expectations of PATs and more! I will be setting up another meeting in November to discuss further, and this is something I am really keen to start early on to make sure things are in place and students feel supported by their PATs. It feels better knowing I can see both sides: PATs, who are also academics, feeling overworked and stretched, and students, who were promised support, not sure who to turn to when their PAT doesn’t respond.
I was able to train course representatives at Highbury College on representation in a Students’ Union (SU) which I loved as it let me get back to my roots – training in a college! It was very fun for me and made me realise the great opportunities SUSU has to allow students to have a voice – Senate, You Make Change, Petitions, Elections, etc.
I wrote my first report for the University Senate which Ben kindly presented which listed what I have been working on over the last few months (life skills workshops, digital skills development, accessibility, online learning, etc).
I was also invited to take part in the photoshoot for the university’s prospectus next year, so if you get a copy, I’ll be on one of the front pages representing SUSU!
It was great to also meet with university senior staff and the Vice-Chancellor for the relationship agreement signing between the University and SUSU. I was also able to bring up student concerns with the VC which made me feel a bit fulfilled as I do like bringing problems and solutions to the people at the top who can fix things!
So, that was my October! I did have a couple days off on Annual Leave for my birthday, but I feel like I really managed to get some projects rolling – bring on being scrutinised by Senate in November! 🙂