Officer Blogs

Development & Democracy Officer Blog

Hey! I’m Tom and I’m your Development and Democracy Officer for this year. It’s my job to help develop Keele SU to make sure it’s responding to the needs of students. I also make sure students feel represented, while acting as a voice for Keele students on issues and campaigns they care about in the University, local community and nationally. 

Talk to me about:

  • Making Keele SU a more welcoming place for everyone
  • The facilities and services that students need such as transport, parking, laundry and accommodation
  • Cost-of-Living
  • Empowering the student voice through part-time roles, elections and Networks

Email me at su.uddofficer@keele.ac.uk

Thu 08 Feb 2024

February UGM!

Shag Week: I’ve re-launched SHAG Week (I’ll put some info on the board at the end with events etc) but most importantly: Our Quiz about Sex, where you can win Sex Toys is on the 13th February in the Ballroom. We have lectures about HPV and Feminism and pornography, a vulva cake decorating session, free cocktails and glass painting and loads more, so do try and attend as much as you can!

 

I collaborated with the UCU on a few projects, including trying to get better support or parent/carer students through the nursery on campus. This feedback has gone to the University Student Voice Committee and we’re hoping for feedback soon. We also started to look into the viability of changing lecture timings as part of this project. Unfortunately, our UCU/SU Liaison representative had to step back from his role, so I’m pushing for a replacement as it has been really nice to get insight on their plans, as well as work together to lobby the University.

 

Imputed into the Universities 10 year plan, which you can also do at their Keele 100 event on 13th Feb in Chancellors (It’s before the Quiz don’t worry).

 

International students: Spoke to the incoming January cohort of international students and highlighted the benefits of getting involved in the SU. Myself and our deputy CEO Fay met with academics regarding the lack of support for international students and are currently in the planning stage of how we can negotiate and collaborate with the University to offer better support mechanisms. 

 

Would it be a Jade Cioffi update without me talking about Networks? Call us misses worldwide, because myself and Tuesday have been talking with other Officers across the Country about Networks, giving them advice on how they can increase memberships and be more sustainable long term. Which confirms what I always tell people anyway: Our Networks are extremely good (please join though x). 

 

My most exciting project has been working on reviewing the effectiveness of our democratic structures and how we can better utilise the resources we have to ensure students are getting the representation they deserve and need, as well as support in other areas. There’s a presentation on this later in the UGM so hopefully you’ll be as excited as I am.

 

Finally, I’m leading on CEO recruitment over the next couple of months so that will be an interesting new experience. The CEO is delegated responsibility by the trustee board to act in the best interest of the SU and ‘lead’ staff teams strategically. If being a trustee sounds super fun and exciting, run in our full time officer elections. 

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Tue 05 Dec 2023

December AGM!

Hi guys, here's a quick list of all the things I've been doing since the last UGM.

  • Met with PVC International to highlight some of the issues international students are facing and how we can better support our students, and got him to support the SU and out Parent carer network on some initiatives.
  • This turned into a second, broader meeting about the Universities student numbers and how we can better cater to an international markets needs.
  • I then spoke with the Humanities and Social Science faculties, and gave a presentation at their Internationalisation and Partnerships meeting about how academics can do more to make education more accessible for students. This led to Natural Sciences also contacting me and asking me for work on Academic Misconduct levels, and also to present to them at their faculty EDI meeting.
  • Met with Mondrem Group to discuss sustainability on campus. Mondrem Group own Nurture, a green charity located on campus. Together we can offer better volunteering opportunities for students who want to get more experience in this sector. We can also co-host events and find more things for students to do during  the day which are free, and fun. 
  • On the topic of sustainability, I met with Alana Wheat from Green:Keele, and we discussed turning this years Green Week into a two week celebration to give it a bigger platform, with more opportunities to engage.
  • Me and Tom are working on National Student Money Week, (mainly Tom)
  • After a year and a half I finally secured a Transport Committee meeting! We discussed parking issues, and I got to raise many of your problems, and also spoke about FirstBus, who had a representative there. Many of the issues around scheduling should (hopefully) be fixed by Semester 2- which I have said is already unacceptable. 
  • I've been liaising with the UCU a lot around collaboration, and have used our Bi-weekly meetings to mobilise all three staff unions on campus, as well as our Parent/Carer Network to push for changes regarding the Nursery on campus.
  • Unfortunately, our CEO is leaving us in January, so much of my time has been spent on recruitment and talking to our Trustees
  • I've also lead the effort to appoint two new Student Trustees, who will help form the Unions strategy at the highest level!
  • Also, I had the opportunity to talk at an event for Officers in Birmingham and use my experiences to give support to other officers around the country.
  • Lastly, I've been doing lots of work for the Upcoming General Election! If I'm late for this AGM, its because I'm at their manifesto summit in London! I collated responses from 283 students about what they want from political parties this election and fed back to the NUS. This has all been made into a manifesto, which will be pushed to every political party.
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Mon 30 Oct 2023

November UGM!

It’s been half a year since our last UGM! We’ve had a new team, and I’ve even (slightly) changed my role since then, so I’ll keep this as brief as I can and stick to the most important things I’ve done I that time.

1. Spoke out against Universities accommodation plans at governing bodies.

2. Wrote a letter to local MP Aaron Bell regarding the ban of dependents for international students- received a less than welcoming reply.

3. Delivered training sessions to the incoming officer team to help strengthen University relationships.

4. Wrote a speech for graduation ceremonies and was fortunate enough to give the SU a platform to over 3000 graduands and their families.

5. Worked with the University Decolonise the Curriculum group on how we can better collaborate and get students involved in the work they are doing.

6. Acted on ‘Toastergate’ and spoke with the Head of Student Services to re-evaluate the banning of rice cookers next academic year.

7. Spoke at the QAA annual conference about sustainability.

8. Created an ‘International Student Guide’ which gives tailored information about topics such as GP’s, Banks, local food shops and more, which international students may need support with.

9. Helped with Speak Week, and alongside Tuesday Forrest, managed to collect over 900 responses in 4 days!

10. Set up meetings with the Chair of University Council, (The VC’s Boss) and Students to give them a platform to speak about their experiences at Keele.

11. Held the University accountable for their work around the Race Equality Charter and encouraged them to do more.

12. Fought for international students at Senate and pushed the university to have a cohesive approach towards their experience.

13. Continued to give Networks a platform. Saw them flourish was increased memberships, multiple leads, running their own meetings; events and stalls. They are also going to begin working collaboratively with the University by sitting on boards and decision making forums.

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