Student Communities Zone (29th October 2015)


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Name of Committee Student Communities Zone
Date and time 29th October 2015, 17:00
Place Union Southampton Board Room
Present Members
Vice President Student Communities Emily Harrison
International Students' Officer Nancy Bui
Vice President Education Shruti Verma
National Oceanography Centre Officer David Allwright
Postgraduate (Research) Students Officer Mike Allwright
Student Communities Zone Student Group Representative Rebecca Lake
Equality & Diversity Officer Caitlin Doyle
Halls Officer Flora Noble
Union Council Representative (Union Councillor) Harriet Averill
In Attendance
(non-voting officers and staff)
Student Communities Zone Co-ordinator Emily Hamilton-Peach
Democracy Assistant Ed Baird
Absent with Apologies Union President Ben Franklin
Medical Society President Iona Maxwell
Winchester Campus President Ryan Notman-Watt
Union Council Representative (Union Councillor) Arun Aggarwal

Actions and Decisions

Action Nancy to meet with Ryan to discuss the possibility of the Welcome to our World festival at WSA. Nancy Bui, Ryan Notman-Watt
Action David to meet with Sam Bailey about buses to the NOC. David Allwright
Action Anjit to report back on any research into the £10,000 figure for MedSoc.
1. Apologies

Anjit welcomed everyone to the first Student Communities Zone Committee of the year and briefly explained how Student Communities fitted in with the rest of the zones. Darren Richardson (student) was also in attendance.

Anjit apologised for not inviting the newly elected Winchester Campus President and the Union Councillor Representatives.

2. Minutes of previous meeting

There were no minutes for the previous meeting available.

Matters Arising
3. Union Upgrade update

Anjit explained that the context of the Union Upgrade – an umbrella review project, encompassing the various review projects going on this year. It was explained that one of the key parts to the Union Upgrade project are the reviews taking place within Student Communities (International review, Halls Committee review, WSA review and PGR review).

4. Freshers feedback

Anjit updated the Committee that Freshers’ had been an overwhelming success, despite the large intake from the University, and asked the Committee for any feedback.

Harriet said that she felt that there could have been more support from the Fresher Reps about promoting non-alcoholic events.

Shruti praised the City Gateway JCR Committee for their work, but also said that despite lots of improvements, she had witnessed some JCR members promoting heavy drinking and pressurising people to drink alcohol. 

Rebecca said the Bunfight was much better than in the past with the different queues. Anjit asked the Committee whether they thought ‘the Bunfight’ was the best name for the event, and whether international students would understand what it meant. Shruti said that it’s sometimes nice to have something to explain as a talking point for new students. Mike said it might be a good idea to have a Tap Choose Change about whether people know what bunfight means.

Shruti said that some of the events over Freshers’, particularly the Freshers’ ball and the Global Meet were excellent.

Mike said that Postgraduate Meet and Mingle struggled a bit in the first two weeks due to not being prepared for the large numbers of postgraduate students attending, which resulted in long queues. Mike added that there could have been more events aimed at postgrads. Anjit asked the Committee whether they thought it was a good idea to have events for specific groups. Caitlin said that in the LGBT+ Society, they hold events aimed for a specific group, but don’t restrict who can actually attend, which seems to work well. Mike said that Freshers’ generally for postgrads is not very good and events targeted at postgraduate students would be useful because the first few weeks are crucial for engaging postgrads. Mike also said that he had received feedback from postgrads that a postgraduate guide would be helpful.

International Students
5. Nancy to update on Welcome to our World festival

Nancy updated the Committee that she had been working with the Language Centre in the Faculty of Humanities on holding an inter-cultural festival on 6th February 2016 where international students can showcase their own culture and home students can learn about cultures.

Shruti asked whether the festival would be on one site. Nancy replied that they are still looking at venues, but the festival shouldn’t be exclusive to one area. Shruti said that it would be good to hold the festival at WSA, because of the large international population.

Anjit also updated the Committee on a separate cultural week and will update the Committee when there are more details.

Action Nancy to meet with Ryan to discuss the possibility of the Welcome to our World festival at WSA. (Nancy Bui, Ryan Notman-Watt)
6. Nancy and Anjit to update on the Global Project

Anjit updated the Committee that Student Communities had recently employed an Excel Placement intern who worked on reviewing what other Unions and Universities currently do for international students. This prompted lots of recommendations and more research needs to be carried out about what both international and home students would like from the Union. There are currently lots of different good ongoing projects, but they are often unconnected, so reviewing what we do is the first thing that needs to happen.

Post Graduates
7. Mike to update on PGR (postgraduate research) Representation Review

Mike updated the Committee on the ongoing PGR Committee project, designed to better represent PGR students. The Committee is structured to mirror the University structure and they are hoping to have officers elected by Christmas.

Darren asked whether the PGR Committee would be a subcommittee of Student Communities or Education. Anjit said that the Committee would sit under Student Communities and Shruti added that the relevant officers, such as the Welfare Officer and Academic Quality Officer, would also sit on different zone committees.

Mike also updated the Committee on a project about PGR students and mental health. Hopefully they will be able to secure funding for a postdoctoral researcher from the Education Enhancement Fund to carry out in depth research on PGR mental health, to inform both the Union and University’s position the issue.

There is also now a page on the website, dedicated to postgraduate students, with three people interested in writing a guest blog for the website. This has also prompted other postgraduate groups to get in contact with Mike.

It was also reported that a postgraduate Stress Less Fest was being planned.

8. Anjit to update on election of PGT (postgraduate taught) officer

Anjit reported that no one had nominated themselves for PGT Officer in the Academic Rep Elections, but three people had expressed interest after nominations had closed, so a by-election would shortly be held.

9. Flora to update on the Halls Representation Review

Flora spoke about the ongoing Halls Representation Review and explained that there would still be seven positions on each Committee but that the roles should be more effective, making each Halls Committee a more professional and effective body. As well as the change of name for the JCRs Officer, there is also the need for more specialised training for the officers.

After various consultations, the new structure has recently been approved by both the JCR Committee and Student Communities Zone Committee.

10. Flora to update on upcoming Halls Committee Elections

It was reported that nominations for the Halls Committee Elections would open on 9th November and that Flora and Anjit had started looking at advertising the roles and also released a video of what each role does.

Anjit said that each candidate will get a small campaigning budget and training in how to market themselves. In the past, generic marketing has been produced, but now each hall will be targeted.

Student Sites
11. David to update on NOC (National Oceanographic Centre)

David updated the Committee about the upcoming plans to have a greater presence on the NOC. He has been looking at the facilities in the NOC, particularly the SUSU room in the NOC that is not effectively used at the moment and would like to get TV screens put up to advertise the same things as the screens on Highfield.

The Committee also discussed the transport links between NOC and Highfield. Caitlin said that the bus to the NOC was a big problem at the moment. David said about the possibility of the U6 bus going down to the NOC at peak times. David also said that the situation had got worse since the gym on the NOC had closed, meaning people needed to use the bus more. Shruti mentioned that Sam Bailey (Vice-President Welfare) is talking to the University about the UniLink buses at the moment, so it would be a good idea to speak to him.

Anjit also commented that he had received feedback that the cycle routes to the NOC are not particularly safe, which the Committee agreed with. Shruti encouraged the Committee to keep bringing up student experience issues to make sure there is a record of them so that she can highlight the problems with the University.

It was also reported that Stress Less Fest would be expanding to happen at the NOC and Caitlin said that it would also be nice for things like Tap Choose Change to happen on the NOC.

Action David to meet with Sam Bailey about buses to the NOC. (David Allwright)
12. Ryan to update on WSA (Winchester School of Art) Representation Review

Ryan was not present, but the Committee was updated on the current elections for academic reps at Winchester who will have added responsibilities e.g. reporting facility issues, which can be crucial to the academic life of a Winchester School of Art. There will also be an academic president but not called academic president so as not to confuse people.

13. Iona to update on SGH (Southampton General Hospital)

Iona was not present but Anjit updated the Committee that MedSoc would receive a £10,000 grant, but this year it would be more in line with other SUSU funding rather than just a lump sum of money.

David asked whether any research had been done as to whether the grant was appropriate compared to other student groups or sites. Anjit explained that the funding wasn’t allocated on the number of students at sites and Shruti said that MedSoc are unique and act like a mini-union and basically run themselves. David said that it is still important to consider the amount of money they get per student. Anjit said it is very hard to compare the sites because they all have different needs and gave the example of the Winchester budget, which has increased in recent years but could potentially go down again after the situation has improved.

Action Anjit to report back on any research into the £10,000 figure for MedSoc.
Equality & Diversity
14. Officer update

Caitlin updated the Committee on the upcoming E&D events:

Interfaith week – the E&D Committee have met with the Chaplaincy, who have planned a week of events with E&D helping out in any way they can.

Have a Jolly-Day event – a collaboration event with E&D and several societies in Sustainability Zone about mindfulness and wellbeing, planned for December 9th.

Inspiring Women – probably to be held in the New Year due to limited booking space. Fearless Futures, an organisation who provide sessions for young women, helping them overcome the barriers in leadership roles, have been in contact with Caitlin about designing a tailored course for SUSU, which would also tie in well with the Spring Elections. Caitlin emphasised that the session would not specifically be for elections, but useful for lots of different leadership roles. David also raised the issue of gender balancing turning away people who want to get involved in SUSU. Caitlin said that the solution is to encourage more women to run for the roles, which is why the Inspiring Women event is so important.

LGBT History Month – theme is belief, religion and philosophy and the E&D Committee had hoped to collaborate with various acadmemic staff on planning a series of talks and other events.

Any Other Business
15. AOB

Student Groups Update

Rebecca reported that the last couple of weeks have been really positive with lots of societies intermingling. The Travelling Society had been affiliated at the recent Student Groups Committee and had been collaborating with lots with other groups from Student Communities Zone.

Rebecca reported that she is currently working on creating a forum for Student Communities Zone roughly every two months, with several societies interested and a Doodle poll sent out to try and set a date.

Overall student groups seem very happy and are starting to communicate more.

Mike also said it was great to see Southampton Business School Postgraduate Society affiliated, making it the third postgraduate society in SUSU.

Rebecca also spoke about a survey for Winchester students that she had drafted, designed to explore what they think about societies, particularly whether they want to create their own societies or whether they would be happy using the shuttle bus to travel here.

Anjit also said that Frazer Delves (Humanities Faculty Officer) was planning on doing a similar survey for Avenue Campus.


As there was no other business, the meeting was closed at 18:42.

Key: P (Papers Provided), PF (Papers to Follow)