It is AGM time and I have a lot to update you on.
COVID has been the stumbling block for a wide variety of reasons, most of which you already know. However, myself and the team have continued to provide everyone with updates as well as answer questions where needs be. The team have been keeping up as best they can with administrative support for societies and been great doing so. Any questions asked to that required representation have been asked directly to university staff or raised during meetings. It has been a very busy and challenging few months but without further ado here is my report.
2. Update on things within our SU Team
2.1 Volunteering and society feedback surveys
2.2 Committee Conference
The Activities Department ran a committee conference over 2 weeks from the 16th - 27th November 2020. The first week of online sessions included refresher courses on things like society finances, organising events and social media & marketing. The second week was themed as a careers week. The sessions over that period took an angle on transferring the skills and experience you gain whilst being in a society, leadership skills and developing a style that suits you, sustainability and the economy, and CVs, Cover Letters, interview preparation and alternative ways to get yourself across to employers.
2.3 Activities Advent Calender
As part of the Winter Season festivities, the Activities Team has been releasing daily content over this period. There are challenges, activities (Christmas related and otherwise), a festive Minecraft special, as well as recipe making videos from staff and students.
The content can be found on the SU website under the What's On section.
2.4 Buddy System and Meeting sessions
The Activities and Voice teams have been delegated to developing a buddy system and meeting sessions. They have developed both forms and activities to go along with these sessions to make them as compatible as possible. This will form part of refreshers and the January Blues campaign to help students connect and combat loneliness and isolation as we progress occurs with Lockdown Tiers as they happen.
3. What I've been doing for/to represent you
3.1 Hedgehog friendly Campus
This one was something I missed from my previous report. Just to mention briefly where I spoke to the Head of Accommodation to ask them to meet with Hedgehog friendly campus, to into basic guidance for campus residents to make their areas hedgehog friendly.
I have also signed up to be a hedgehog champion. Hedgehog friendly campus do need more hedgehog champions so please sign up if you can.
3.2 Name Change procedure update
This is a brief update. I am about to have another meeting with uni IT about the processing of name changes and they should be getting back to me soon. This is ongoing and don't worry I haven't forgotten about it.
3.3 Invisible Disabilities Presentation
I raised this in one of my meetings with University Executive, that the Invisible Disabilities Society wanted to do a presentation and it was received with great interest. As a result, with a date the society was comfortable with, a meeting was set with the Student Services Directorate and support staff for the 9th December to give them a presentation made and led by the society.
Currently the audience stands at 25 people, with a further arrangement in January that is underway to make a presentation to School DLOs (Disability Liaison Officers) after they receive feedback from their first presentation. I have been providing them resources I use, guidance, facilitation throughout all of this for the society and been a general soundboard for their presentation as they develop it.
They will also be presenting some of the results of the survey they did as additional data gathering for their presentation to the SU and at USVC. I am helping them with the final presentation prep and the pre-reads they want to send out. After which; the university, schools and estates will have a comprehensive representation from students about some of the most neglected issues that have not been tackled as well as recent ones for online accessibility. They have been absolutely amazing doing this by themselves as a society led project and it an excellent piece of work.
3.4 Keele University Volunteering Opportunities
One of the University Executive Committee members initiated a conversation with myself and the volunteering department, on potential volunteering opportunities as a result of some of the work he’s doing with the Keele Deal. Due to some of the business partnerships that the university is expanding into, he believed that this would result in an increase in volunteering opportunities. He wanted to ascertain in that meeting whether we would be open to forwarding those volunteering opportunities to students as they come. Hannah and Sarah G were very happy with what David was proposing and the meeting resolved that via himself, Rob and the volunteering team, there would be a throughput for those volunteering opportunities, and we hope to provide more and a wider variety of volunteering opportunities as they come in.
3.5 Passing a motion on Sustainability Development Goals
I also put forward a motion which passed at Union Council relating to our involvement of highlight Sustainability and the UN Sustainability Development goals. The motion passing put where applicable the onus on societies, clubs, staff and the SU on the campaigns and events they tag on them the Sustainability Development Goals that they hit. Additionally, suggestions during the discussion of the motion looked at integrating the Sustainability Development Goals on the SU website with having a section for it on the society resource pages and in society training.
3.6 Meeting on sustainability projects in the next year and Veganuary
In the meeting I had with Sarah Briggs, I discussed with her three main topics. The first was the sustainability calendar of events for next year. We looked at Veganuary and what kinds of promotions we can do for information and myth busting, and a “powered by plants” campaign highlighting athletic lifestyles on vegan diets. Documentaries for students to watch over the month potentially as movie nights.
Secondly, we discussed Keele Green Festival in March and using some of the content for last years’ festival that didn’t go ahead as part of the lead up toward March’s festival. Sarah will be informing us early next year of how we as students and an SU can get on board.
Thirdly, I also discussed with her the continuation of the development of last year’s herbaceous campaign. We will be seeing what Estates can do to develop further that planters that have been placed on the sites around campus.
I will soon be asking for and then providing feedback to later have a meeting to look at what we can do for veganuary food options as an SU for students.
3.7 Faith At Keele
After the Keele Communities Together meeting; myself, the faith leaders and chaplains around Keele have resolved to revive the Faith At Keele group. Stephanie, one of our campus chaplains has a copy of the old terms of reference which we can work from.
It will be something that I will chair in coordination with attendance from Keele faith leaders. We will be setting a meeting date in the new year that fits the faith leaders in Keele and invite the society committee groups. This should fully revitalise a representative body to voice the concerns of faith students at Keele, which has been disjointed for a number years, to represent the issues that they face and channel their concerns.
3.8 Uni BLM update and our Be Better Do Better Campaign
With our upset over the lost potential of Joint Senate Council we all resolved to communicate this to the Uni Exec and Chair of Council.
I began a draft and we worked on it together as an Officer Team to produce the following email in response to our grievances.
I received a response from the VIce Chancellor inviting us to collaborate with the Executive Team closely on this subject matter, including assurances that there would be more on what we voiced within our email in the next semester.
3.9 Societies and Activities Podcast
With the advent of the Winter break up period, we were having our round table discussion in our Activities Team meetings, I volunteered the idea of doing a podcast and thus it became a project.
I’m looking to create no more than 10 podcast episodes, varying from 15 to 60 minutes in length on various subjects. This is going to be a way for us to keep students engaged with something we can release over those weeks, keep society and club committees engaged and share best practices with each other. From how to create big events, thinking more sustainably, how to do a good weekly social or meet up and so on. As of the time of writing this, I have guests confirmed for 3 out of the 10 episodes. Hopefully you’ll listen to a few of them.
3.10 University Digital Challenge
This initially started off as an idea for students to create digital profiles of how COVID-19 has changed them. That may have been a great idea, but would likely have very little interest for willing participation from students. I sounded this out to students and started thinking of ways they could interact with it. In a meeting I suggested we make it into a sustainable campus themed design challenge so that students could get creative with it. The ways they can submit their entry can be via whatever medium they wish; written, presentation form, video submission, or drawing/digital art. We got Sarah Briggs on board and the proposed challenge is being finalised. I’ve yet to receive an update on when the challenge is due to be released for students to participate in. The Digital Challenge will also have prizes for the entries.
3.11 Decolonise the Curriculum Workshops
I've been attending the Decolonise the Curriculum workshops that have been taking place with Schools, to represent students and further work on our Be Better Do Better Campaign. I responded to some good points made with some guidance about how lecturers can foster safe academic environments for people to express views from culturally sensitive perspectives that may not be shared experiences by the majority of attendees.
3.12 Outdoor exercise Equipment and energy sustainability
I have messaged the staff in Horwood Energy centre about energy, sustainability and exercise equipment. One the energy consultants has gotten back to me and we are arranging a meeting soon to see what can be done.
3.13 Representations in attendance for meetings for students that have occurred prior to this meeting
Islamic centre management committee meeting
Keele Communities Together
KIITE Induction Project Review meeting
University Student Voice Committee
University Exec/SU partnership meeting
3 one-to-one meetings with University Executive Committee Members
3.14 Representations in meetings that will occur before the end of the Year
Decolonise the Curriculum Workshops
A one-to-one with a University Executive
Keele Estates – Transport and Parking
Board of Trustees
3.15 Manifesto Progress
The Grad card scheme
I have had discussions about what additional benefits a graduate card scheme would confer other than just being able to come back to the SU for nights out. For example, SU renovations taking place? additional careers information? Giving a similar sort of set of periodic updates and information that the alumni office does except SU focussed so graduates can be informed.
I also discussed a potential proposed date for it to go live which is having it coincide with the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of our Students’ Union in 2021 which seems like a great time to launch it.