PRESIDENT, DECEMBER 2017 REPORT
Collection of data has concluded and is being collated as we speak. Preliminary data is in line with our assumptions and with secondary examples of policy that has failed to be implemented by the University I believe we have a very strong platform for change moving forward.
Catering: Value For Money
I’ve been mindful in the past to leave catering issues to Riley so as not to confuse situations but Lesley approached me about increasing transparency and communications with students in line with a “Transparency Project” I’ve been discussing with boards I have a seat on. The coming week and a half will see catering forums across all campuses chaired by Lesley herself in hopes to adequately fulfil the restlessness displayed by many students around catering and accommodation. I am pleased to see these departments taking such an active role in improving this situation and hope it will follow on with other engagements I have with them. The new chef in Farnham seems to have, if temporarily, waylaid the issue of quality, though I still believe the value for money part needs attention.
Campus Life: Green Impact
My attention has been fleetingly diverted to concentrate on Green impact by Vanessa and the similar campaigns of Riley (100 days of veganism) and Phill (Less is more?) to concentrate on my own. I believe it is in the Universities and Unions best interests to subscribe to the new directional trend of eco-friendly and sustainable campuses and thus am writing a proposal to turn Courtyard social spaces in Farnham and other applicable spaces on other campuses into eco gardens. Improving the appearance and use of these spaces as well as providing welfare initiatives for students who just want to take some time out of their stressful days to do a bit of gardening, ya’ know? With the added benefit of providing a use for all the waste food produced by the canteens. It is my hope that the university will embrace this idea as a portfolio option, that they can boast of having eco conscious campuses and an active Sustainability society, partnering with the “Farnham in bloom” groups to add support and workshops to this movement is an avenue I am also pursuing. I am currently working with Intern and CEO Kaya Cohen on writing a proposal to Roni Brown and Alan Cooke for these spaces in line with Roni’s Campus Life campaign.
Campus Transparency Project
This campaign will be an ongoing initiative and will likely be perpetual.
Anger and frustration displayed by students regarding many issues arise from lack of information disseminated to them by their tutors and higher ups. An issue that has become systemic with little sign of changing throughout my 3 years as a student. With the creation of the carpark steering group (I’ll stop going on about it I promise) We (as a student orientated faction) saw that information could be disseminated to us if the effort was put in. And so a trend has started of Boards and groups being more open to Transparency initiatives. I have been pushing communication techniques and engagement issues with any staff who will listen and see that it is having a profound effect on how the University communicates with its students. I do not want the SU to be weighed down and branded as the “Engagement Department” if we can teach them how to do it themselves. One example. I allowed Alison Branagan to use a lightbox to advertise a creative workshop that summarily had far better turn out that would have been likely otherwise. This was communicated by Alison to her higher up with stress that we would not be helping in the same manner again, they have since altered their engagement pattern to be independent and more effective. “We are the hand that shows, the hand that teaches.”
It’s also my hope that after the pressure from students about engagement at the SRCEEG that consideration for notice boards and digital displays will be confronted.
A project like this, on the scale envisioned has been tricky to tackle. It has been decided to phase the campaign into more manageable advancements. It’d be unreliable to give accreditation to Landlords without a systematic procedure in place, which is something we can’t foreseeably implement within the next year if we were to work with the Accommodation office, and most of these procedures would have to be maintained by them as our current resources cannot support a program of this nature. We will lead this campaign with surveying information on student opinions regarding the current support provided which will then give us a stronger launch point instead of my current work of re-configuring the Private renting material from within.
Once we have out base point we plan to run an awareness week in February-later to help those looking for accommodation access the information that they need.
Current Landlord profiles already collected will have to take the back shelf for now, as even though I trust their intentions we have no concrete way of ensuring them without surveying a fair majority of their tenants.
The workshop itself is still a viable option, and with proper planning via Taylor and myself with Accommodation could be accomplished in time (Though no new progress will be made till January when we will launch proper)
Cats on Campus/Dogs on campus
While fluffy and adorable Cats make terrible stress relievers as they tend to get more stressed than students, and it was decided that putting them in that situation wasn’t ideal, So Dogs were the next logical step though LSS and Gateway already provide this. Ultimately we’d only do this near the end of the year to coincide with FMP stress. It’s a heavily compromised change but that’s the reality of student politics in line with logical progression.
At the end of the day when it comes to student wellbeing I’d rather have 1 Chris Carr than 5 puppies.
Free Sanitary Products
We plan to launch this mini-campaign sometime early January with a digital only survey spread across all 4 campuses directed at our majority demographic, to investigate if students are happy with the current provision and lobby for change if it is sensible.
- As per my meeting with the Mayor of Farnham to discuss local links with the community I was invited to march in Remembrance Sunday where I met with a myriad of interested local figures. I had coffee with Lucinda Flemming, ex-mayor of Farnham and chair for a few local organisations to discuss collaborations in the local area. Whether these relationships are renewed every Sabb, or only now want to connect I do not know but I am hopeful for the future. She has also since helped me connect with the Farnham Rotary club to discuss ongoing partnerships, When I get a set meeting I will include Marketing into the outreach to see if they have anything they’d like to add as I understand local collaborations is within their remit.
- I was also invited to the Farnham town council Civic carol service.
- Finished the employability Blog with help from Creative Enterprise and academics from a broad range of courses, more of a small win but shows they’re engaged.
- We had a successful “Smashing Stress” workshop at very short notice, the team really pulled together and I’m so thankful that we managed to do it given the available resources, and I’m ecstatic to give more exposure and power to the Wellbeing network, with Tara Murphy since working closely with Phill and myself on more projects.
- Lesley Balaam, Head of Accommodation and Catering agreed to hold mini Forums on all campuses the weeks of 21-30th of November as part of the Transparency Project, and I am delighted she’s up for taking part in it in her own way.
- I’ve been incredibly impressed by the precision and drive of Phill as of late and with the help of Taylor re-evaluating my approach to campaigns I believe I now have a functioning facsimile of this approach to help increase the efficiency of my work.
- I have a habit of not phoning people too often as, Instead I just mass email or message through other mediums. Even as a forward person in the flesh I’m quite timid and passive in my communications. I’ve been making a concerted effort to change that by making calls where applicable, and the number of outgoing calls so that’s pretty good progress.
- My last few weeks have been partially focused on Transparency and Engagement, Gauging the amount of applicable information that is fed back to the students from the School boards, Campus Engagement forums and Boards of Governor meetings I have attended, as well as having conversations with individuals involved on their stances regarding the dissemination of information and the involvement the information has with its students. My findings reflect a university that is anxious to engage more with its students but struggles to in an outdated and stagnated environment, Recent attempts have been more successful but this has been in no small part due to the involvement of the SU, which I am eager to resolve as we are not the Student Engagement department and we have our own connections to concentrate on.
- I hope we’ll finally get to trigger our #PosterProtest day from last year soon.
- Working with Riley there is a plan in motion to hold an accommodation week in the next few months to support students finding new houses in this time, we are unfortunately too late to assists those currently moving out from temporary slots in Campus accommodation (Farnham in particular)
- We hope that with this week we can provide some reform in how the University helps those student looking for places and build on the policy Chris is currently investigating. A situation which may need to be taken to PPC to support the policy infrastructure before we continue with other areas.