Minutes

Name of Committee Union Senate
Date and time 20th November 2018, 14:00
Place The Plant Pot
Present Members
(voting)
Senator Katja Stout
Senate Representative - Sustainability Zoe Booth
Senate Representative- Education Zone Adrian Li
Chair of Senate Thomas Radford
Senate Representative-Creative Industries Zone Isaac Treuherz
Senate Representative - External Engagment Zone Charlotte Colombo
Senate Representative - Student Life Zone Emily Whelan
Senator Channing Eady-Gately
Senator Galyna Mandra
Senate Representative - Student Communities Zone Arvin De Vera
Senator Joel Jordan
Senator Amalia-Andreea Cojocar
Absent with Apologies Senator Katy Davies
Senator Nazrin Wilkinson
Senator Zakaria Al Shmaly

Actions and Decisions

TypeDescriptionWho
Decision Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
Decision Sam - VP Educaton Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 13, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Evie - VP Democracy and Creative Industries Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 13, Reject 0, Abstain 2
Decision Fleur - VP External Engagement Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Isabella - VP Welfare Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Emily - VP Student Communities Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Steve - VP Sport Sabb Plan Approve - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Action Fleur to explore the possibility of the website code being opened up so that student volunteers can help fix problems.
Action Evie to look into how the data is anonymised on You Make Change.
Action Evie to look into the issues that no longer having policy has for You Make Change and where decisions can be sent to.
Decision Union Senate unanimously voted to send the decion for You Make Change submissions to the next AGM.
Action Isabella to look at increasing information about the Safety Bus service.
Decision Union Senate voted to appoint a Stuart Maiser as an External Trustee
Open
1. Welcome and apologies

Tom Radford, the Chair of Senate opened the first meeting of the academic year with introductions for those present in the room. Apologies were recieved from three senators which were acknowledged in the meeting.

2. Minutes from previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were voted on and approved. 

Decision Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
3. Update on Actions

The Chair asked the Sabbatical Officers to provide a few updates on actions that were carried forward from the previous academic year.

Sam, VP Education was actioned to meet with the Student Life Zone Representative to discuss research conducted by Student Minds UK. Sam confirmed that this meeting had taken place and that the feedback from this has been passed on to the University as they have ongoing work in student health and wellbeing that this would fit well with. 

Isabella, VP Welfare confirmed that she is working with Union Services to improve the offer in the One by One range and that the profit margins on products would factor into what is discussed.

Evie, VP Democracy and Creative Industries confirmed that she is working on a Service Level Agreement with the Creative Industries groups which will address problems around asking students to cover events at SUSU. 

Sam, VP Education answered on behalf of the Sabbatical Team to say that the laptop ban had been lifted and that they were now allowed in the Bridge. He also acknowledged that this ban should not have been put in place at all.

Senate Reports and Papers
4. Sabbatical Officers Plans

The Chair of Senate confirmed that for efficiency, the plans from the Sabbatical Officers for their year ahead would be taken as read and they would not need to provide a summary.

 

 

 

Decision Sam - VP Educaton Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 13, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Evie - VP Democracy and Creative Industries Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 13, Reject 0, Abstain 2
Decision Fleur - VP External Engagement Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Isabella - VP Welfare Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Emily - VP Student Communities Sabb Plan Approved - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
Decision Steve - VP Sport Sabb Plan Approve - Approve 14, Reject 0, Abstain 1
5. Reports from the Sabbatical Officers

The Chair of Senate confirmed that for efficiency, the reports from the Sabbatical Officers refering to the last term of work would be taken as read and they would not need to provide a summary or update on what they have been working on.

6. Questions from Senators

Sam - VP Education

Q - Asked for clarification around changes to the Course Rep Training.

A - Sam answered that the training that the team provide to Course Representatives has now been digitalised, this will help those who are on placements or distance learning to still access information and guidance on their new roles. He confirmed that this would result in a quicker and more efficient period of training as those who can't attend will be able to go through the Learning Management System course online before attending their SSLC. 

Q - Asked for an update into free printing.

A - Sam confirmed that the cost of printing had been reduced over the summer period which is a big step forward for the project. He has been in talks with an external company but these recently halted due to factors out of our control. This is still an ongoing project and Sam confirmed that he is still moving forward with it. 

Q - Sam was asked about the cost of printing for staff.

A - Sam confirmed that there is a difference in the cost of printing for members of staff and students. A recent study showed that 80% of printing is by staff.

 

Evie - VP Democracy and Creative Industries

Q - Asked about the inbalance in work done so far, most progress is on the Union Review. 

A - Evie cofirmed that the Union Review has been a very big piece of work that has been ongoing since the previous academic year. As the AGM is taking place next week it has been a priority to work on the Union Review and ensure is was finished in time. 

Q - Is there a fair balance of work in the new structures, in particular looking at the VP Education and Democracy Role.

A - Sam answered by saying that it is very common at other Unions for these two roles to be combined. As the staff team will be staying the same there is support in each area of work and that at present, Sam and Evie already work closely on elections such as Autumn and Summer as these are majority academic representative roles. 

Q - The new concepts have not been seen anywhere on the website, more consultation is needed.

A - Evie confirmed that consultation has taken place for the Student Officers structure. The new plan was on the You Make Change portal with a form for feedback from students. The two concepts for the new Sabbatical Officers will go out tomorrow when the Agenda for the AGM is released. There will also be role descriptors attached.

It was also suggested by Union Senate that it would be worth publicising it outside of the AGM meeting so that it is better recieved by students. It was also raised that there seems to be a lot of feedback from the officers up but not top down. After the AGM, will there be more information on the oversight of the Creative Industries work.

Q - What will the rules review entail and what do you hope to achieve?

A - Evie explained that the Rules Review would include all 12 of the Union's rules and the accompanying By-Laws and that it would be a big project to go through all of them. The aim is to shorten them and make them useable for students as well as the Union itself. Over recent years changes and additions have been made to the Rules which have left them contradictory and unwieldy so they now need a full review to ensure they make sense. 

Another aims is to take aspects of the rules and move them into By-Laws to make them easier to update in the future.

Q - The You Make Change Portal is very difficult for some students to use. There isn't any automation on the system and it seems as though some projects don't have an end and are stuck with the University. 

A - Evie suggested that this be discussed as part of the next agenda item on You Make Change.

 

Fleur - VP External Engagement

Q - Asked about the aim to have Goal 3 achieved by January but that this seemed very soon considering the progress that had been made. What plans have been made for Refreshers?

A - Fleur confirmed that the goal had been set for January as this is when Refreshers is due to take place. Progress has been made and we are happy with what has been acheived so far. There are no concerns about the timeline.

Q - When will the Freshers Rep Review be taking place and should it not be completed before Refreshers?

A - Fleur confirmed that the review of Freshers Reps is needed before next September 2019 when Freshers will be taking place again but it is not a priority at the moment. Work is needed on more immediate projects such as the Halls Elections and Block Rep recruitment for January. 

Q - Will there be any improvements made to the STRIVE Scheme to make it more employer friendly and better for accreditation. 

A - Fleur confirmed that the STRIVE Scheme was not just an E-Badge and that employers will be able to click through to a report on the work that you have done to achieve the badge you have been awarded. This means that it will incorporate evidence of skills to help employability. 

Q - Linkedin Labs will be used to promote sign up to the STRIVE Scheme but isn't in just for officers?

A - The STRIVE Scheme is for any volunteering that our students take part in and is not limited to elected Officers. This means it includes any work done with Clubs and Societies, Fundraising and RAG.

Q - How will the STRIVE Scheme be able to deal with differences in measuring hours in volunteering, eg. fundraising totals compared to face-to-face hours.

A - Fleur confirmed that this is a big project to work on and that it will be improved continually over the year and may need to be passed on to the next VP External Engagement to carry on the work. At the moment we are talking to other Unions about how they measure the differences in volunteering time. 

Q - What do you mean when you mention creating a Hub for information, what would this look like?

A - Fleur confirmed that a website survey had been released yesterday for students to give feedback on their use of the website. Based on what information come through this survey the website will be updated and made more user-friendly. 

Q - Can you clarify what you mean by the 'apathetic factor'?

A - The website needs to be more accessible for students and the information needs to be readily available. The survey will hopefully bring problems to light so that we can make changes. 

Q - Would it be possible for the code to be opened up for students volunteers to help work on issues?

A - Fleur agreed this would be a good idea. 

Union Senate put it to action that Fleur will looking into the possibility of opening up the code for student volunteers to help with problems. 

Q - Is it possible to put a previous role on the STRIVE Scheme, and what have been put in place for students on a Tier 4 Visa as working hours are limited. 

A - Fleur confirmed that previous roles can be put on the STRIVE Scheme. Fleur thanked the student for raising the Tier 4 Visa issue and confirmed that although she was not aware of this yet she would look into it with the team.

 

Isabella - VP Welfare

Q - More details were requested about the Stay Fresh event and whether this would be repeated at other sites.

A - Isabella confirmed that this was a one day event during Freshers but that elements would be put into the You Are More Than campaign. A mini Stay Fresh event was run at Halls.

Q - How much traction as the Welfare Wednesday podcast had with students and what is its purpose?

A - Isabella explained that the Welafer Wednesday podcast was an opportunity to sit down and chat with students. It started on soundcloud but this was difficult to access. It has now moved to Spotify but has not had a huge reach yet. It has only had 4 episodes so far so we will continue and see how it does in the future.

 

Emily - VP Student Communities

Q - What efforts have been made to reach out to postgraduate students outside of halls?

A - Emily recognised that in previous years there has been a focus on using social media but that this doesn't reach all students and can be ineffective. Emily explained that she had met with the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Union to put together a regular monthly email, similar to a newsletter for Postgraduates that will include important information. 

There will be more focus on going out to sites in person to ask for feedback. A survey took place at Boldrewood to consult with students there on what ways they would like to be contacted. 

Sam also discussed the 5 new academic representation roles for Postgraduate students. These new roles give students a voice at faculty level which is an improvement in terms of representation for PGRs. At the moment we are working on having a similar structure put in place for PGT students.

Isabella explained the Emily takes an active role in the plans that the other sabbs make to ensure that they are reaching out to the postgrad community and that the events and campaigns are postgrad friendly. A lot of this work happens behind the scenes.

Q - There were plans to put together a Postgradudate specific Freshers offering. Why didn't this go ahead?

A - Emily explained that when the new sabbatical team comes into their role in July most of the Freshers schedule has already been planned and so it is difficult to add new ideas in at that stage. The idea behind this years Fresher was for it to be more inclusive and so all events were open to all students to attend regardless of year or level of study. There are plans to do more for postgraduate students throughout the coming year and Emily confirmed that she would be involved in planning for next years Freshers.

Q - What happened to the Postgraduate survey that was mentioned in your campaign during the elections?

A - Emily confirmed that she did not plan to run a survey for postgraduate student specifically but that she had talked about a survey for clubs and societies in her zone. It is difficult to plan out when and who to survey during the year as we don't want to spam our students. However, Emily let the Union Senate know about the "How are we doing?" survey which has gone out to all students and can be on anything that they are struggling with during their time at University.

Q - You mentioned a dedicated social space for postgraduate students, how will this be defined?

A - Emily explained that she had been in conversation with the previous postgraduate committee and that there seemed to be interest in having an exclusive space where postgraduate students can socialise and relax. 

 

Steve - VP Sport

Q - Why have you, as VP Sport, picked up a project on drug awareness? This seems to be fit more with the remit of the VP Welfare?

A - Steve explained that he sees his role as promoting healthy and active lifestyles for students and so a drug awareness campaign fits within the health side of his role. He is working closely with Isabella, VP Welfare on the campaign to ensure there is wider input. 

Action Fleur to explore the possibility of the website code being opened up so that student volunteers can help fix problems.
7. You Make Change

Evie introduced the discussion on anonymous submissions to You Make Change. The decsion was made to stop showing publically those submissions that had been submitted publically. She explained that the portal is often misused if the submissions are put through anonymously. 

Q - What does this mean for shyer students who do not necessarily want their name to be publically attributed to a submission? Would this not come under safeguarding?

A - Evie explained that those submissions will still be looked at and replied to but they won't be on the website publically. 

Q - The decision seemed to be made under the radar and was not transparent.

A - Evie pointed to the website where the decision has been displayed.

Q - Sabbatical officers are already able to review and potentially filter out any abusive submissions. Why do all anonymous submissions need to be kept off of the website?

A - Evie said that the sabbs generally don't filter out submisisons on the website unless they are clearly a duplication. Isabella explained that the purpose of the You Make Change portal should be to suggest changes that can be implemented for students but it is currenlty not being used for this. Complaints can be made through other outlets. Emily added that anonymity is still available but it will not be publically displayed.

Q - A student raised that they had been at the initial discussion when You Make Change was voted in at an AGM. They explained that the issue of abuse had been brought to that conversation. As it was originally a decision at an AGM, should it go to an AGM again to be updated?

A - Steve answered by explaining that they had looked through the Rules and had not found any reason why the changes couldn't be implemented outside of an AGM but they did feel it should be taken to Union Senate for discussion. 

Evie suggested that if the feeling in the room is that the decision should go to the AGM that is coming up on November 29, this could be done.

Q -  What happens to the Up and Down voting for those submissions?

A - Evie explained that this feature isn't widely used at the moment and so it doesn't generally impact prioritisation of work. 

Q - How does the system respond to anonymised submissions? This indicates that it isn't anoymised data.

Union Senate put to action that Evie should look into how the data is anonymised with the relevant staff at the Union.

Q - We can't hold sabbaticals accountable as decisions through You Make Change aren't sent to policy. 

A - Sam explained that there is currenlty a Rules Re-Write project underway which should tackle this. Evie also explained that we will be starting to add a report to the Union Senate agenda that will include figures and key actions so that there is oversight.

Union Senate put to action that Evie should look into the issue with no longer having policy and You Make Change not having anywhere to go.

Q - What will happen between now and the AGM?

A - Steve confirmed that until the vote takes place at the AGM the decision would stand but if it is revoked at the AGM all previous anonymous submissions that were not public will be made visible.

Action Evie to look into how the data is anonymised on You Make Change.
Action Evie to look into the issues that no longer having policy has for You Make Change and where decisions can be sent to.
Decision Union Senate unanimously voted to send the decion for You Make Change submissions to the next AGM.
8. Zone Reps Reports

The Chair of Senate confirmed that for efficiency, the Zone Rep Reports from the first term of work would be taken as read and they would not need to provide a summary or update on what the zones have been working on. 

No questions were raised in the meeting.

9. AOB

Q - What will be done regarding tweets made by other sabbatical officers around the incident with the Mural?

A - In response, Evie apologised for the tweet that she put up and confirmed that she would look into whether a statement woudl be appropriate.

Q - What will the Union do to rebuild trust with students now?

A - Isabella explained that the main focus had been on processing the backlash and the abusive comments that came through. Until the statement was released yesterday they had been in limbo but now they can focus on how to move forwards.

Emily added that each new comment that is released by the Union flares up the argument and so we had to be careful about how to approach communications. However, Emily confirmed that the Union wanted to move foward and continue its positive work for students.

Q - Will Steve be taking on Emily's campaigns or just the Presidential work?

A - As it has only been 24 hours since the statement that Emily would be resigning, Steve said that he was unsure at that stage what the balance of work would look like going forward. Initially he would be taking on the Presidential work and the campaigns may be distributed between the other sabbs where appropriate. He also explained that they can't promise to do everything but that they would do their best. 

Q - Will there be another Deputy in case of sickness or absense from work?

A - Steve confirmed that he would be talking to other staff in the Union and that he wasn't sure of the rules around this yet.

Q - It is difficult to find information about the Safety Bus, is there anything that can be done to improve this?

A - Isabella explained that she will be working on improving the safety bus service and that this would likely include increasing awareness and use of the bus. 

Union Senate put to action that Isabella should look at increasing information about the Safety Bus.

Prior to the first meeting of Senate, the Union Senators were asked to vote on the appointment of the new External Trustee. The vote was passed to appoint Stuart Maister to the Trustee Board. 

 

 

Action Isabella to look at increasing information about the Safety Bus service.
Decision Union Senate voted to appoint a Stuart Maiser as an External Trustee

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