WITH a new academic year comes a new team of Student Officers; dedicated to representing you and enhancing your University experience.
Keen to keep students in the know, the new officers have given The Spark the low-down on their policies and plans for the next year.
What would you like students to know about your progress so far?
Natalie Harper (President): I have been working on increasing representation in RUSU which includes changing the elections to encourage more students to vote and to run for representative positions.
Charlie Holman (Student Engagement Officer): Most of my work has been helping to improve communication between students and RUSU. It’s really important that stu-dents know exactly what the Student Union does and are aware that it’s always on the student’s side. We have also worked with the SportsPark in agreeing a new sports level agreement, which will give our sports societies a better deal for the future!
Sara Chandran (Education Officer): One of my main aims is to encourage the use of efficient technology. Technology Enhanced Learning will encourage staff to use technology to its potential, from online submissions to articles and lec-tures uploaded onto Blackboard. Academic Representation is another key area. Improving the visibility of reps and the relationship between Course and Facul-ty Reps will ensure that the student voice are heard.
Tilly Corless, (Welfare Officer): I have established safety initiatives like ‘Think Before you Drink’ ready for Welcome Week. I have also organised a mental health awareness campaign for October called ‘No Stigma, No Shame’, in which students will have the opportunity to take part in advice sessions, an evening of jazz in Café Mondial, meditation, and football at the Madjeski Stadium.
Chloe Bartlett (Community and Development Officer): The volunteering co-ordinator and I have come up with a variety of volunteering opportunities, the newest being MAD days. This allows students who don’t want to commit to weekly volunteering to only do one-off opportunities.
The library pods went down a hit with students last year – how do you plan to create more group study spaces?
Sara: As part of the Library refurbishments, the other floors will be refurbished to the same standard as the second floor which will mean more group study spaces!
How do you plan to let sports teams and societies have more control over their socials in the Union?
Charlie: I would like to introduce a loyalty scheme for sports teams and societies who use the Union on socials as well as use our bars, catering and retail services so they can make some extra money for the club they are passionate about!
What new ideas do you have for ‘RUSU says Relax’ campaign?
Tilly: I plan to bring the timing of the campaign forwards into during the revi-sion period. This will reach more students than it previously has when it took place during exam time only.
The NUS is campaigning to scrap letting agent fees – how will you help to pro-mote this?
Chloe: We are currently trialling a NUS campaign, ‘Rate Your Landlord’, to get stu-dents’ experiences heard and problem areas tackled. Last year, students said they were being ripped-off by agent fees, and many first-time renters won’t know that this isn’t acceptable.
What are your plans for students who are interested in non-drinking events?
Natalie: There are plenty of activities for students to get involved in which don’t encourage the consummation of alcohol. I have also been encouraging JCRs to incorporate non-drinking events into their Freshers’ Week plans.
The NUS is encouraging students to vote in next year’s general election – what questions should students be asking politicians who are seeking their votes?
Natalie: In the past years, students have seen their fees increase dramatically with no guarantee of a job and accommodation prices rise with no increase in student loans. Yet students are still a very important part of society and have a valid voice, which they need to make sure is loud enough so that it cannot be ignored!
Sara: In Higher Education, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students are less likely to achieve a first or an upper second degree compared to White students (HEFCE: 2014). What does the politician plan to do to tackle this na-tional issue? Is it a concern for them and their party?
Tilly: Asking how the student voice will be heard by politicians is the most basic yet valuable piece of advice. Students are more political than people think!
Many Change It! ideas have not received enough votes for a campaign – why do you think this is? How will you increase students’ awareness to encourage votes?
Natalie: Most people do not understand what Change It! is or how the process works. Students are still very interested in the issues which surround them, it’s just a question of channeling the interest in the right direction. We will be running several awareness campaigns, holding events and meetings, as well as online videos to explain how it works.