Students across campus celebrated success last week as this year’s winners of the Student Experience Awards were announced.
The prestigious awards- featuring 20 titles- praise the achievements of students in roles such as Part-Time Officers, Academic Reps and Student Voice members, as well as students who have been involved in campaigns and inclusive initiatives both on and off of campus.
The winners of each awards were decided by RUSU’s Full-Time Officers based on nominations submitted by staff and students.
Although usually presented at a glitzy awards ceremony, RUSU thought it important to inform winners of their successes regardless of the restrictions caused by Covid-19.
Commenting on RUSU’s decision to congratulate successful nominees with a virtual certificate via email, RUSU’s Education Officer Fifi Bangham said: “Despite the unprecedented circumstances impacting on our normal celebration of RUSU Awards, we felt it was incredibly important to still celebrate the hard work of students in all areas of RUSU.
She added: “Whilst we cannot celebrate with these students as we would have wished, announcing the winners during this time recognises their commitment over the past year, both in activity on and off campus.”
The 2019/20 winners of the awards, divided into categories including Academic, Volunteering & Fundraising, Diversity & Inclusion, JCR & Welfare and Democracy & Sustainability are as follows:
Award For Best Student-Led Initiative To Enhance The Student Academic Experience
This award recognises a student who has gone above and beyond to develop an event, scheme, campaign or otherwise that has enhanced the student academic experience.
2019/20 Winner – Kia MacKenzie
‘Kia continued the Lit and Lang Show from her predecessor, securing funding from the ASAs and working hard to bring in a range of speakers that appealed to all in her school, despite her own heavy workload. The event catered to a range of students and was well attended thanks to Kia’s hard work in the organisation, promotion and implementation of it.’
Award For Innovation In Academic Representation
This award recognises an Academic Rep who has introduced a new and/or different way of representing their students. An innovative Rep might have come up with a unique solution to a problem or implemented an exciting new idea to increase student engagement across their course or school.
2019/20 Winner – Djihane Breteche
‘Djihane used her own initiative to apply for funding from the AS Awards and was successful in receiving funds to help set up a seminar series for students. This was a brand new and innovative idea that captured students’ imaginations. She had approximately 50 people attend her first event, which she spoke at and then ran an hour long wellbeing workshop.’
Award For Long Term Commitment To Academic Representation
This award recognises an Academic Rep who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to representing students over a prolonged period of time. This student has continuously and consistently worked to improve the student experience. They have volunteered countless hours to help benefit others, working closely with RUSU to better the quality of teaching and learning at UoR.
2019/20 Winner – Matthew Gilbert
‘Matthew has been a dedicated Rep for all three years of his degree, working hard to gather as much feedback as possible and make change for current students and those to come. He has juggled his own workload with the ever increasing responsibilities of a School Rep and has helped pave the way for future Reps through sitting on panels and committees.’
VOLUNTEERING & FUNDRAISING
Award For The Fundraiser Of The Year
This award recognises an individual that has gone above and beyond to fundraise for charity throughout the year.
2019/20 Winner – Cait Pilkington
‘Cait’s motivation and dedication to fundraising has pushed RAG forward a huge amount this year. RAG events like the auction and the challenges are a big part of student life and wouldn’t happen without a determined team behind them. She manages to balance the drive to raise money with the need to keep the fundraising enjoyable for the students.’
Award For The Volunteer Of The Year
This award celebrates an individual that has gone above and beyond in their volunteer role. This student consistently dedicates their time to volunteering, having a positive impact on all they do.
2019/20 Winner – Charlotte Hyde
‘Charlotte has proven to be the best representative of students with disabilities in her PTO role, her passion is contagious! It’s this, along with her dedication and overall attitude that I believe have led to many successes this past year. She’s a very active member of RUSU and is very approachable. I really respect her and what she’s achieved!’
Award For The Best Fundraising Event
This award recognises an exceptional event that clearly demonstrated commitment and dedication to organise whilst raising money for charity.
2019/20 Winner – Pole Fitness Society’s Poleathon
‘All were welcome to try pole in this event on their own or with their friends, enjoy something new and raise money for No 5 Counselling and Information Service in the process. During four hours, over 50 people came in to do something against the norm, experienced the sport and left with a smile on their face. Doing good for themselves and others.’
Award For The Most Dedicated Volunteer Initiative
This award recognises a project that showed great dedication to their charity.
2019/20 Winner – The Spark Newspaper
‘The Spark Newspaper has enhanced the student experience by informing, supporting and entertaining its student readers on a daily basis. The Spark is a key source of advice for students and a platform that many students go to for regular updates about campus issues and events. The Spark strives to represent all voices.’
Award For The Most Inclusive Volunteer Initiative
This award recognises a project that has gone above and beyond to include students from a diverse range of backgrounds.
2019/20 Winner – Sport in Mind
‘Sport in Mind has given a variety of different sport sessions across the week for students to come to as a place to be free of stress and relax from any issues University life brings with it. It has something for all different types of people, and the volunteers always work well to make sure everyone is safe and enjoys their time there.’
Award For The Most Improved Volunteer Initiative
This award recognises a project that has clearly shown signs of improvement and development throughout the year.
2019/20 Winner – University of Monsters
‘The University of Monsters initiative has drastically changed this year. It has become a student committee based initiative, and has flourished. The feedback from the schools involved has been incredibly positive, commenting that this change is the reason they will be continuing their involvement with the initiative.’
Award For The Best Community Project
This award recognises a project that has positively impacted the local Reading community, through outreach and/or engagement.
2019/20 Winner – University of Monsters
‘The students leading the University of Monsters days experience great pride in their University as they are able to share it with others. The leaders gain skills in leadership, working with children, organisation and safeguarding.’
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Award For Best Student-Led Event Promoting Equality, Diversity Or Inclusion
This award is given to a student group or individual student for their efforts in organising an event that focuses on striving for equality and/or celebrates diversity and inclusion.
2019/20 Winner – Sikh Society Langar
‘Sikh society have consistently organised and held Langar, promoting diversity and educating students on their culture. The event has been well attended and is very popular.’
Award For Outstanding Campaign To Develop Inclusivity On Campus
This award is given to a student for their campaign work related to creating an inclusive and liberating environment.
2019/20 Winner – Charlotte Hyde
‘Charlotte has worked tirelessly to improve accessibility on campus, championing accessible social media posts, a hearing loop in RUSU, and increased awareness of accessible sports and activities for our students. She provides a consistent voice to students with disabilities at high level committee meetings with key senior members of staff.’
Award For Pioneering Diversity
This award is given where a student group, or individual student has shown initiative and drive to diversify an aspect of student life where not previously done before.
2019/20 Winner – LGBT Society Committee
‘Leo Bowman, Josh Forman, and Henry Mispelaere have worked consistently alongside RUSU to support LGBQ and Trans students on campus in the absence of a trans officer. A notable example includes working on Transgender Day of Remembrance, with Leo confidently and bravely talking at the flag raising event in front of staff and students alike.’
JCR & WELFARE
Award For JCR Committee Of The Year
This award recognises a JCR committee that has had an exceptional impact towards improving the student experience. This committee has devoted their time towards creating an inclusive and enjoyable space in halls for students to become part of a community, by running events and initiatives for all.
2019/20 Winner – Wantage Hall JCR
‘Through the different inclusive events including both formals, Sunday night quizzes, yoga sessions with Sport in Mind, puppy day, Christmas party and the dinners organised with some international students, I believe that this JCR have attempted to provide a welcoming and friendly environment for all students of Wantage.’
Award For The JCR Committee Member Of The Year
This award recognises an individual who has shown commitment and dedication to their role in the JCR and gone above and beyond to engage with the residents to improve the student experience in hall.
2019/20 Winner – Sarah Lister
‘Sarah has gone above and beyond as Wantage JCR President from filling all committee member positions to ensure that all the students in Wantage Hall are represented and coming up with innovative ideas to improve the wellbeing and socialisation of students in Wantage.’
Award For The Welfare Initiative Of The Year
This award recognises a welfare campaign that has clearly demonstrated an understanding of the welfare issues in hall in addition to showing commitment and dedication to spreading a positive message within the hall community to enhance the welfare of students.
2019/20 Winner – Sport in Mind
‘Sport in Mind’s approach of using physical activity to help promote self-care and positive mental health is very uplifting and of great benefit to many students on campus. The group are incredibly well organised and help to boost the student experience by providing opportunities to all.’
Award For Outstanding Contribution To Positive Wellbeing On Campus
This award recognises an individual who has made a consistent contribution to maintaining a positive environment on campus, either by providing continued support to friends, promoting positive mental health initiatives, or giving up their time to support welfare events and initiatives.
2019/20 Winner – Leyla Owen and Mark Jeavons
‘Leyla and Mark have been the driving forces for Sport in Mind this year which has provided weekly opportunities for students to look after their mental health through sport. They are always willing to get involved in events and are very passionate about the fantastic work they do.’
DEMOCRACY & SUSTAINABILITY
Award For The Student Voice Member Of The Year
This award recognises an individual who has shown commitment and dedication to their role as Student Voice Member, communicating with RUSU staff and students on matters relating to Student Voice, fully participating in meetings and has gone above and beyond to engage with democratic functions within the Union.
2019/20 Winner – Julie Xiao
‘Julie is extremely reliable and has fulfilled her duties as a student voice member by turning up to all meetings. Julie has ensured that sport is given a voice and is well represented and has been really beneficial in ensuring the thoughts of sporty students are brought to the table.’
Award For Best Student-Led Sustainability Initiative
This award recognises a student-led sustainability initiative with a positive effect on the student experience. The initiative may have been a campaign or event that was educational, fun, and ethically sound.
2019/20 Winner – Zero Waste Society’s Clothes Swap
‘Sustainability can often be seen as expensive and hard to achieve. Zero Waste’s clothes swap events have made sustainability inclusive and accessible to all students. It has provided students with an easy way to become more sustainable whilst also bringing our community together.’
Award For Outstanding Impact On The Student Experience
This award recognises a student who has made an outstanding impact towards improving the student experience. This student has devoted their time towards making an important or significant change which has enhanced student’s daily experiences at University of Reading.
2019/20 Winner – Rish Rajput
‘Rish has been a placement student this year for communication in student services. Rish has consistently got involved in opportunities to communicate better to students to ensure they are aware of what they can get involved in whilst at University. Rish will go above and beyond to attend meetings where he can represent the student voice.’