Pip Harris

President Kent Candidate


Bio

Hi there, I’m Pip and I’m running to be your 2019/2020 Kent President.

My main goals as your president would be: supporting events, improving upon social spaces, giving more community vibe to the uni experience, and ensuring the support for well-being of students, both in aspects of the courses and personal well-being.

A little about me:

I’ve been attending UCA Rochester for 5 years now, first taking my foundation degree, then studying computer animation, but taking a year out between my 2nd and 3rd year due to family reasons and mental health – something that I am very open about and that enabled me to grow so much as a person, making me even more of an advocate for mental health support and student’s well-being at UCA. Personal well-being and the support around this is the number one priority for students in my opinion.

As I’ve been attending so long now I’m really very passionate about UCA and only want to see it improve for everyone. I have already been working towards this by being freshers crew and crew leader the last 2 years for Rochester campus – organising events, students, social media, helping students with everything from moving in, to handing out freshers packs, to getting to and from events, both on and off campus. I’ve worked closely with student wardens, SU officers and organisers, the current student presidents, club and venue owners and so on. I was also elected a Campus Exec for Rochester in 2018 in my mission to make UCA better, and all this means I have a good amount of experience in the field of working both with the Student Union and students themselves which will be great in allowing me to be really beneficial to you as your Kent President.

I’m currently in my 3rd year and graduating this summer, which will leave me with plenty of time next year to wholly dedicate myself to the role of Kent student president, to ensure I’m giving all I can to improve and make UCA a better and more enjoyable experience for all students.

My goals as President:

Events – these have always been my main focus, not only during freshers week but also hearing what you the students want and trying to keep these going through the year; from escape rooms to self-defence classes, film screenings to free tea afternoons and pumpkin carving; trying to make UCA a much more fun and social experience for everyone, and give the campus more of a community vibe. I’d love to keep working with the uni and improving it, I plan on working on making events more widely advertised and frequently held, getting feedback from students on exactly what they want and making it happen! This applies to the Canterbury campus also. I adore Canterbury, have many friends who live there and really want to learn more about your campus to make improvements you want to see!
Social Spaces – I also want to improve the public social spaces, at Rochester campus I would love to improve the outside balcony/cafe area and make it a much better space that can be used all year round, as well as for evening events. This goes the same for Canterbury, I want to listen to the student voice and find out exactly what you want improving, so I can put your voices to actions and improve your campus and uni experience.
Well-Being – I want to ensure the continued support for student mental health and well-being at UCA. This in the form of informal in person events (such as Chill and Chat), and an online presence, ensuring there is an open dialogue between the SU and students that can be accessed at any time if anyone feels they need it, for whatever reason. I’d love to introduce mindfulness workshops and support the continuation of things already in place. Additionally, ensuing everyone knows about the uni counselling and support services available and how to access these, without stress or embarrassment. Further, ensuring there is a dialogue to discuss concerns or issues surrounding any aspect of courses, and working in any way we can to attend these. Mental health and well-being is an integral part of ensuring your own personal health and something I am strongly passionate about.
Thank you for your time, hope to see you around, and #VOTEPIP!


Manifesto


Q&A

How would you improve the visibility of the Union (day-to-day activities, as well as events / clubs and societies) to students and university staff?

As stated in the previous question, raising union visibility, which in turn I believe will be a key way in making not just events available and successful, but also improve upon the overall success and impact of the SU and all the work we do.

Accessibility and visibility was a large focus particularly for myself in this last years freshers and continued events, and I was very present on the SU social media pages promoting events and getting the word out about times, tickets, and where I myself would be for certain events, as I led thm myself such as Rochester Town Tour, the Ghost Hunt at Fort Amhurst, the Maidstone Bierkeller and Club Nights, the games café trips and so on. Another way we tried to tackle this in person was having a marquee setup at halls with myself and my freshers crew I assembled manning a table there, with flyers about the upcoming events, and activities too. I also had a table at the freshers fair where I further advertised our upcoming events, handed out flyers and interacted with students about what I and the union were trying to make happen.

I would push for such in-person Union representation to be there on key days, such as move-in week, first day back, (for all courses) and so on, as well as ensuring the SU was made available to all new and returning students, in the form of information being sent out in welcome emails and moving-in packs for those coming to halls. I would push for more posters around uni campuses, not just outside the union offices, showing upcoming events, and a clear online calendar showing what is happening and when. I would continue to support online visibility, and push for greater knowledge within the student body about the social media pages of the union, ensuring as many people as possible are seeing what we’re broadcasting, not just on facebook, but Instagram, twitter, snapchat, all social media outlets, to make things as visible and accessible as possible, allowing people to see whats happening day to day, as well as upcoming events, and to get in touch in any way for any reason.

 

Would you, and how would you make students more engaged in creating a community ? As a small university, the possibility of bringing more courses closer should be more prioritized.

Creating more of a community within UCA student life is one of my key goals should I become your Kent President, as over my 5 years studying here at UCA this is one thing that has really stuck out to be lacking.

The way I see of doing this is to support events being more widely publicised, frequently held and therefore attended, allowing people to meet others outside of their flat or course, bringing people together and creating bonds between those who otherwise may not have met.

As I have already worked jointly with students and the SU as freshers crew leader the past 2 years, I do have a fair amount of experience with organising, promoting and running events at the uni, and a main goal for freshers 2018 was to get the word out about events going on, something that I first had meetings with the events coordinator Hadley Keenan for the SU back in June about, showing how passionate I am about events at the uni. Further, I also was a driving force behind trying to get more one off events happening through the year held by the SU, not just during freshers, and personally held events after freshers including the free afternoon and pumpkin carving at Rochester Campus, among others.

I already know many working at the SU including the clubs and societies officer Vanessa Silva, so a main goal of mine would be to put this experience with events organisation and how to actually make things happen at uni together with my connections and really push to get tailored events going on throughout the year at both campuses. I would do so by working with my fellow SU officers and the students running clubs and societies, to ensure resources and time are allocated accordingly, and make things happen!

I know a lot of people who have wanted to start societies, clubs, hold events etc, but just didn’t know how to go about it. We need clearer communication between these channels, allowing students to not only access events and societies, but also create new ones themselves, with support from myself, and the rest of the SU in an accessible manner.

 

What are you doing for BAME students?

BAME students make up a large proportion of the UCA student body, so representation for these students is key. I am already aware of some societies for the representation of bame students, but not as informed as I would like to be, so initially would set up a communication between the students running these societies and myself to establish what areas are lacking, as well as holding an open meeting between myself and any and all BAME students, where I can get direct communication on how these groups would like representation, areas that are lacking or need to be improved upon, changes that need to be made, and so on, essentially how I can ensure the best representation of BAME students within the uni, to ensure voices are heard.

I would further work with BAME students through the year, I would want to hold monthly meetings with those wishing to be involved and the leaders of societies to support them and events throughout the year. One such event I would also push for the societies to hold would be seminars with BAME guest speakers, such as experts in specific creative fields, BAME spokespeople, and community leaders, to ensure BAME students have access to resources and information beyond what just the uni can offer.

I would also push for wider knowledge about these societies, as visibility and accessibility for student societies is a major point for me, as this would ensure more students know about the representation available to them and where they can get involved.

Lastly, I would want to create more of a connect between the sometimes lesser known or represented holidays and the university, ensuring none go un-recognised or celebrated. A communication would be open to any BAME student and society with myself about such holidays, and I would work with these students and the SU to ensure all are recognised and communicated at uni.

 

How are you going to help promote employability and post-university success?

There are already workshops and one-off lectures directed towards employability and how to look for and achieve employment post-university, but I do feel these aren’t always very well publicised and therefore known about. I also feel what may be relevant to some courses is not to others, across the blanket ones already held, and while some courses are holding individual field-based talks, not all are.
I would work towards employability seminars being mandatory to be held by all courses, with guest speakers such as people in the field being brought in to give advice to current students in what employers are looking for, and answer questions students have. I would also push for alumni students to be present at those seminars, so current students can get first hand advice from the people who have recently graduated in how to achieve success and go about it.

Further, there should be an online resource allowing people to view the presentations given and the questions answered, either in the form of a video or sound recording of the seminar, or at the very least a text representation of the key points and questions answered, if for any reason students were unable to attend on the day, due to personal or otherwise reasons.

I also would want to put into place CV and portfolio building and advice workshop to be held by each course.

I would want these resources to be part of the course curriculum, so it is on peoples timetables and therefore unable to be missed or skimmed over, as I believe it is invaluable information. They would be open to all years, but with a focus on final year students being given priority to attend, should space be an issue.

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