Union Senate (12th November 2020)


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Name of Committee Union Senate
Date and time 12th November 2020, 12:00
Present Members
Senator Nick Hillier
Senator Wilson Odek
Chair of Senate Fiona Sunderland
Vice President Education and Democracy Avila Chidume
Senator Victoria Babeau
Senator Jan Bürmann
Senator Harry Bull
Senator Savanna Cutts
Union President Olivia Reed
Senator Aycha Ates-Di Adamo
Senator Bilaal Rashid
Vice President Sports Sam Tweedle
Vice President Activities Corin Holloway
Vice President Welfare and Community Nicole Akuezumba
Senator Alamea John
Absent without Apologies Senator Ahmet İbrahim Aydoğan
Senator Jianan Zhang
1. Welcome and Introductions

The Chair of Union Senate, Fiona Sunderland welcomed all those present for the first meeting of the academic year. Fiona shared the agenda and introduced the sabbatical officers.   

2. Microsoft Teams etiquette

Fiona ran through the etiquette for the meeting

3. Minutes of previous meeting

Fiona shared the link to the previous minutes. 

Senators voted to approve the minutes. 

Approve: 10 

Abstain: 1 

Reject: 0 

Outcome: Approved


4. Conflict of Interest

Fiona declared she is currently working as support staff at SUSU, in the Activities team with Corin and Sam. As Chair, Fiona will abstain from voting and only vote in the event of a tie. 

Fiona asked if anyone else had any conflicts of interest they need to declare. None were declared.  

Papers and Reports
5. Sabbatical Plans

Olivia Union President: 

Fiona ran through the pre submitted questions for Olivia’s Report. 

 Q: What is the lockdown support pack? 


A: If you test positive for Covid, you fill in a form for Student Services and you then receive a wellbeing call from Student Services. During that call they will check in with students about their academic needs and what their situation is and any welfare support (e.g entertainment packages, food support)they might need. Olivia mentioned that she worked with the University to produce the support pack. 


Q: What is an appropriate balance between in person and online activities? 


A: Olivia said that this is a really difficult one and something they have been working on for the last 6 months. SUSU’s view has been that we want a really blended approach to online an in-person activity because some students are really nervous about going on campus and others who are very keen to be there. Sowe have taken the approach that we need a blended learning approach with some support for students who cannot make it to campus for any health reasons. So that is what we have been trying to do through our activities and we have tried to lobby the university top do on the academic side. So, for our ‘Welcome Week’ we did some in-person meeting greets but then we replicated them online. 


Q: The long-term site goals are very vague, what are they? 


A: Olivia agreed that it is vague. She added that this year is not a massive priority for sites, and she tried to reflect that on her report just because of the nature of how this year turned out. The long-term sites goals are to have a very strong physical presence and a support presence in every campus. What had happened before was that Sabbs held drop-ins in every single campus each week. Going forwards it has been included as a massive part in the SUSU strategy and that shows that we are trying to commit to this long term. We are also working with the University and Student Services because they are looking what their presence is going to be in sites as well. So, we are looking if we can co-ordinate in that sense. But as mentioned earlier this is more of a longer-term focus than a shorter one. 


Q: The halls representation is also rather vague. What are the halls forums? How often are halls forums to be held? What is the role of the halls officer in this? Is one halls officer enough for all halls? 


A: Halls forums started taking place a while back. They are basically a chance for students to ask any questions they have. There are representatives from SUSU, Student Life and Residences. They are taking place monthly at the moment and if there is a need for more, more can be put in. The role of the halls officer is to be co-chairing alongside Olivia. If one halls officer is enough, is difficult to answer. Olivia noted that there had not been any representatives for individual halls this year. The halls structure used to be very different and at the moment this is a transition away from that. Each hall used to have a committee and was there to organise social activities and our focus has moved this year particularly away from the social activities to the more representation function. So, for this year it is particularly relevant to provide representation more heavily than ever, so we thought that the halls forum would be a good chance for students to feed in any questions. 


Q: How is SUSU ensuring halls students’ welfare in halls? 


A: Olivia mentioned that whenever we get a welfare complaint through halls whether it comes through our anonymous supporting tool or whether it is emailed in directly, we try to raise it with the university. For example, we had issues for water supply come up and general welfare. Welfare is a real focus for us because we are aware that this is a big transition for them, and we are focused on this kind of loneliness and mental health issues around students in halls. 


Q: Relating to Building 42, I do not understand what the proposal is. How can there be a proposal but no analysis of wants and needs? 


A: Olivia commented that this is something she is really passionate about. She thinks that the SUSU building is very tired and not fit for purpose. There were leaks at least once a week during the Freshers period, so we need a substantial investment in the SUSU building and Olivia has been trying to lobby the university for that.  It is very early days, and it is something that takes a long timeso she is not expecting to have anything done during her time as a Union President, but she wanted to get the ball rolling on it. Olivia said that SUSU are lobbying for the project to get going and it is, which is really positiveOlivia mentioned that they are meeting every two weeks with Estates and Facilities to go through the building plans. SUSU are putting a proposal to the Estates Programme Board soon and then we can get going with some stuff around the wants and needs. Wants and needs are assessing what our priorities are and what needs to happen for the students’ union to improve and then what would be the things that would be nice to have. As part of that we need to ensure that we are involving everyone, and that is part of the new SUSU strategy; so, it would involve student input, staff input and university input. 


Q: Is there a way we could present a better format for these plans? 


A: Olivia said that she has been having conversations with SUSU’s Chief Operating Officer around trying to include these plans on the SUSU website. We are hoping to have an ‘Update’ section on the website, but this is more of an idea at the moment than ongoing. 


Approve: 8 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 5 

 Outcome: Approved 


Avila Chidume, VP Education and Democracy 

 Avila’s plan was taken as read, and she moved on to answer the questions asked: 

 Q: What training do PATs already receive (if any) and what training do you want them to get? 


A: The training PATs currently have is determined by the Centre for Higher Education and Practice; the department within the university that provides a variety of resources to do with standard support, signposting students, and areas and topics such as Equality and Diversity. The issue is that the majority of the training is not compulsory, so what Avila is hoping to do is work with the course reps to lobby or encourage the lecturers and PATs alike to participate and demonstrate that they have done this training and that they are ready to support students when need be.  


Q: Promoting opportunities for BAME/LGBT/disabled has been put under ‘Representing academic interests’. Does this not lie with Nicole/Corin (Welfare and Careers)? 


A: The magical thing about this year is that all 5 Sabbs are working together very well so everything is interlinking perfectly, so Avila is working alongside Nicole and Corin. The areas which Avila is focusing on are to do with EmployabilityAvila has taken that one from what was originally under Activities because she felt it fit more into what she hoped she could achieve this year. So, she will be focusing on businesses which are purposely advertising towards these minority groups and allowing students from those areas to apply. 


Q: What information and communication does this concern? 


A: Lots of communication which students currently receive is to do with general uni-wide issues and concerns. However, there are often times where there seems to be areas where miscommunication takes place and students receive information which is not relevant to them or they do not receive any communication at all. So, Avila would like to work with the University to ensure that when important decisions are made this is communicated as soon as possible. For example, first year students might receive information that is only relevant to final year students, and Avila does not think that is right, so she is hoping to work with the university to improve this. 


Q: Is this only the actual sending of information or also how to find information? 


A: It is a combination of both. As Olivia mentioned we are working to improve the SUSU website to ensure that things are easily accessible. We want there to be a smoother transmission to information being shared to prevent misinformation being spread.  


 Approve: 7 

 Deny: 0 

 Abstain: 5 

 Outcome: Approved 


Nicole Akuezumba, VP Welfare and Community 

Nicole’s plan was taken as read, and she moved on to answer the questions asked: 


Q: How many of the University working groups are you targeting for student involvement? Or to put it another way, how many of the groups do you believe to be relevant for a student member? 


A: There are probably 2 main ones thaNicole is hoping to get students involved in. The Race and Equality Charter which already has student representatives sitting on it and then the Tackling Harassment working group which is currently postponed until the Spring semester due to Covid and other priorities right now. In answer to the last part of the question Nicole said that she thinks there are quite a few of them, but a lot of them are staff focused, for example there is the US Respect which is not relevant to students. 


Q: Why the focus on paid-student advisory group, could this potentially increase expectations and create barriers to being able to become a of member of these groups? 


A: Nicole explained that the reason why she proposed that the advisory group be paid is that she feels that sometimes the content of these groups could be taxing for students, so it would be beneficial for them to have some kind of financial or some kind of incentive to go through this emotional tax. 


Q: How is PGR welfare included into SUSU’s approach? Often this group feels that they are between students and staff and so people might be less inclined to approach SUSU. On the other hand, the Faculty internal structure vary very widely. 


A: As PGRs sometimes feel they are between students and staff it might be difficult for them to feel that they are represented by SUSU. When Nicole tries to do campaigns she tries to make sure that the content that goes out applies to all students and it is not specific to undergraduates and besides PGRs it also applies to international, to mature and other hard to reach groups. For example, when we did the International Buddy Scheme, we had 2 application windows; one in October and one in January to make sure that any PGR student starting in January could be part of the scheme. 


Q: What do you consider hard to reach students and why are they hard to reach? 

A: FroNicole’s perspective hard to reach students are international students, BAME students, students who commute and students who live on other campuses and also mature students and PGRs as well. With regards to why they are hard to reach, for example mature students start at a different age group to other undergraduate students and that in itself puts them in a different life perspective. The same thing could be said for student parents, who have different priorities to a typical undergraduate.  

Q: What is the network you want to create to engage with hard-to-reach students? 

A: Other Students’ Unions have networks to reach out to hard-to-reach students. They have specific events and create communities for them. So, for example they have a ‘student parents network group’ where they have events (e.g have lunch together, meet and greets). That is what I meant by network. 

Q: What is the aim of SUSU EDI strategy? 

A: One of the 3 key values of the SUS strategy is ‘Take Responsibility’ and as part of that, EDI is important and we need to ensure that we have an EDI strategy so when we are holding other responsible we have a strategy that helps us to do that. Our vision for the future is that every student can have a good experience at Southampton, so it is important to have an EDI strategy so student from varying backgrounds, especially BAME students who suffer from racial discrimination, can have the same experiences as a non BAME student. That also applies for staff. Staff need to feel safe so then they can provide students with the best experience possible. 

Q: Is this only for SUSU roles and clubs? 

A: The EDI strategy would be for all parts of SUSU; from Operations to Facilities, which are things like the staff in the ‘Shop’ to the staff in the ‘Bridge’ and all staff; the finance staff, the HR staff. This would be done to ensure that all staff and students are our priorities here at SUSU and they feel well represented and safe. 

Q: Are there any plans to help the university responsible for their EDI strategy? 

A: Our EDI strategy is in line with the University’s strategy, so we are looking at what they are doing and as we look through it, if we see anything that we do not agree with we will definitely call them up on that. SUSU’s EDI strategy is in its early stages, but as time goes on, we will hold the university accountable where necessary. 

Q: Are there any of those groups which have a relevance to PGRs? Because there is a lot of overlap between our PGR staff or students and there might be boards that might be relevant to our specific needs. 

A: There are working groups that could get PGRs involved and moving forwards Nicole will contact Avila to talk about getting PGRs involved there.  

Action: Nicole to contact Avila to talk about getting PGRs involved in groups which are relevant to PGRs.


Approve: 7 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 5 

Outcome: Approved 


Sam Tweedle, VP Sports 

Sam’s plan was taken as read. There were no questions for Sam. 

Approve: 8 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 5 

Outcome: Approved 


Corin Holloway, VP Activities 

Corin noted that his plan is to help societies and make it easier for societies to do things. He then went on to reply to the questions that had been asked. 

Q: On ‘Advertisement’ you are a bit vague. How are you going to find new ways? 

A: We will try to work with the Marketing team and try to get students involved in things. Corin added that he tries to talk to students directly and message them suggesting things that they could do. That way Corin believes is more effective. He asked if anyone had other ideas on how to advertise more, to tell him.  

Fiona also added that this is a general plan, so it did not matter if not every point of what Corin wants to do goes into the plan. 

Q: What is the Nuffield plan? 

A: The idea is that the Nuffield theatre exists, theatre societies want to use it. Before covid it was used by professional people, but unfortunately it closed due to covid  and now they are trying to work out what to do with it because it is empty. At the moment the plans of what is going to happen to it are confidential, but Corin is trying to work with the Arts team to make sure that is used for students and in a way that will benefit students. Corin also added that they have a decent proposal. He added that this is unlikely to happen this year. 

Q: What is the rough ratio of PGR to UG students in societies and in link to that how do we market to PGRs and equally to other hard to reach students? Do you have a strategy on how to market? Nick Hillier, Senator, who had asked the question noted that he believes that since there is a lot of interface between Sabbs they could work together and learn from each other, and he believes that there should be a different strategy for different groups. 

A: Action: Corin to find the stats for PGR students. Also, Corin to look at the strategy in how to engage these groups. 

Approve: 5 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 4 

Outcome: Approved 

6. Sabbatical Reports

Olivia summarised her report and answered the following questions: 

Q: You mentioned that the JCRs was also responsible for activities for the different Halls. Is there something like that happening or who takes over that role: 

A: Olivia said that SUSU is still involved in running a lot of activities in Halls. Again, due to Covid this has been less of a focus this year. She added that SUSU had planned some Halls outdoor events during the Welcome period, but they had to be cancelled due to the weather. Finally, she added that they are working with the university to provide for Halls. 


Approve: 10 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 3 

Outcome: Approved 


Avila Chidume, VP Education and Democracy 

Avila summarised her report and answered the following questions: 

Q: How many PGRs were consulted in how this consultation take place? 

A: This has been an ongoing process where I have been speaking with past Officers and past PGR students and now present too. The goal is to create a forum where PGR students and researchers have the opportunity to share their ideas. We are finding it difficult to elect all the PGR officer roles. Currently we have two out of five, but we think it will be more appropriate to have a forum where people can come together and speak through that instead. 

Q: How many PGRs have you spoken to and how did you pick who to talk to? 

A: The ones which Avila spoke to were just the ones she came into contact when she just began. So this is something which is in early stages, not to say Avila is excluding anyone. It is just the stage Avila is currently at, hence why the forum will be created; for everyone she has not had the chance to meet yet, they can all attend and that will give her the opportunity to do so. 

Q: There are PGR SSLCs. Within the Faculties there are these roles which are more Doctoral College representatives who are not part of SUSU and are not elected as the SUSU representatives are. Is there any liaison with them or would it be helpful if you worked with them? 

A: We are finding this a historical issue reaching out to PGRs and getting them involved hence why the proposal is that the forum is open to PGRs; so that they can come and bring their suggestions forward, or concerns or queries. It is just something that is there and allows greater communication for everyone involved. 

The previous FEPS PGR rep also mentioned that the SUSU PGR Representative also sits on SSLCs so everything that is discussed there does ultimately feed back to SUSU and the Doctoral Board. So, there is an interface between the local Department PGR reps and higher up. 

Avila also added that at the moment there are 2 SUSU PGR reps so there are three missing roles which can cause issues within the future and is trying to prevent a situation where people end up unofficially in the positions, hence why these proposals are been put into place. 

Q: Regarding the Liberation Officers forum. What exactly is that and if there is an established way of them interacting with each other. 

A: At the moment the communication channels which they have is via emails or through social media. We have established a Facebook group with all of them, so they are able to stay in contact. The proposal at hand is keeping the roles as they are for now but working to ensure that the burden of the responsibility for representing an entire community or multiple at once is not fully on them, because that was the feedback we had received from previous officers; that it was too much. So, by having a more open approach, allowing students who identify from these communities who might not feel comfortable going to someone else as a middleman, can now come directly to SUSU. 

Avila also confirmed that all the Liberation Officers have working relationships with each other and that it is ensured that there is a good relationship across the board. 


Approve: 8 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 4 

Outcome: Approved 


Nicole Akuezumba, VP Welfare and Community  

Nicole summarised her report (attached to minutes). No questions were asked. 


Approve: 6 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 4 

Outcome: Approved 


Sam Tweedle, VP Sports 

Sam summarised his report.  

He mentioned they had to cancel Women in Sport Week due to lockdown and it has been rearranged for the second week after exams in January as they thought it might be better to move it so that there could be some in person activity. 

Q: What is planned for the Be Active Programme? 

A: The Be Active programme was a collaboration between SUSU and Sports and Wellbeing to address something that they had identified as a bit of a gap within the provision of sport. So there is AU which is really competitive, there is IM which is a little bit more casual but is still in the team, but there was not an approach where someone could turn up on the day without the long term commitment to a team. So that is what the programme is about; getting people active for free, it will be primarily delivered by a Sports and Wellbeing staff member. So, it will be free sporting opportunities several times a week, which anyone across the university can get involved with and have fun. This was supposed to be starting at the beginning of next term, Semester 2 after exams, but there may be a delay as a result of the lockdown. Sam added that SUSU will try to push for it to happen as soon as possible in Semester 2.  


Approve: 7 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 3 

Outcome: Approved 


Corin Holloway, VP Activities 

Corin summarised his report. No questions were asked. 


Approve: 7 

Deny: 0 

Abstain: 3 

Outcome: Approved 

7. Rules Review Paper

Avila answered all the Rules Review Questions. 

Q: With respect to the Liberation Officers what is the rationale behind the criteria. What feedback was received and how from previous officers? Has there been further consultation? 

A: Avila said that they have talked with the present and past Liberation Officers and got feedback from them towards the beginning of term. The feedback they got was that the requirements of the roles required a lot of commitment and time and being able to represent everyone adequately was not possible, so they wanted more support. Further consultation will be taking place and Avila will be having meetings with former Officers to see what their experience was and what can be done for future preparations. 

Q: How will liberation officer criteria be enforced particularly as most of the criteria is self-identified or very broad (ethnic minorities is a very broad encompassing term) 

A: If someone self identifies then we believe them that is what they identify as, so it is trusting our Union and the student body and knowing that the students are willing and open enough to self identify and share that openly. In order to combat issues to do with people applying for roles that require someone who has experience being from a specific background, we will be hosting more campaigns and educating students on why it is important to ensure that you are from that minority group to be running for it. 

Q: Phrasing for LGBTQ+ officer could simply be ‘identifies as a member of the community’ rather than an incomplete list. Was that a final phrasing? 

A: Everything is still a work in progress. It is good feedback to receive. Maybe having a broader list would encourage students to be more open. 

Q: Criteria such as ‘must have experience helping students’ is very vague. Is it necessary to include as criteria? 

A: For some roles it relies on you having that passion and need to want to support and help people. Even if it is having some evidence showing that you have experience doing just that is enough. 

Q: Would the international Officer have to be a registered international student? Would someone born or originating from oversees but with UK citizenship be eligible? 

A: That one is open for consideration. At the moment Avila feels it is more appropriate having someone coming from abroad because it is that experiencing; that they are having a fresh new experience, but again if it is someone who has lived in an international country before but now lives in the UK, then we can reassess whether or not that should be more clear. 

Q: How and who are reviewing the PGR Rep roles and what might replace them? 

A: The reviews that are currently taking place is between Avilathe representation team and other members of staff within the Union including the Sabbs. This is not something that is going to happen overnight. It is more understanding the roles as they are, seeing if they are appropriate and what amendments need to be made. Hopefully, we can also include and involve our PGR officers and any other PGR representatives. 

Q: Is there a longstanding issue of all the seats on Senate not being filled in previous years? (changes to eligibility criteria; VP Education and Democracy) 

A: Avila mentioned that there is some miscommunication with this one. We are not trying to do anything with the Senate roles. In the past there were stricter criteria which prevented students from engaging and we are completely happy with the way it is currently where it is completely open and allows everyone to attend. There is no plan to disturb that any time soon. 

Q: I am here on behalf of the LGBTQ+ society and we feel that it would be better to have the eligibility criteria for that particular officer be as an individual who identifies as part of the community rather than listing out all the identities 

A: Avila said that this was a valid point and that they could discuss it further. 

Q: I can understand that some of these roles have the problem of filling them so if it is too narrow or would be harder to find people. Regarding the international Officer if we include the EU citizens in that, then there might not be enough focus on those who are coming further away and have a lot more different experience than EU students. – Fiona rephrased the question asking if we could have separate representation for EU students. 

A: Avila replied that this could be something to consider. She said that all suggestions are welcome and that is the reason why the forums are held; to listen to suggestions. 

Q: Including trans women into the Women’s Officer, I know that not every woman might be happy with that; has that been discussed with the previous officer, has this been seen as ok? 


A: Avila said that she thinks it is important to view that SUSU is always an open and welcoming community and we are here to support students regardless of what they identify with. So, if you are trans you are just as valid to apply for the role. 

Fiona replied and said that the Women’s Officer role would be there to represent any women, whether they are trans or non-binary. It is a women’s Officer so it would be a role for anyone that identified as a woman. Avila added that they are acknowledging that these are very broad categories and that one person cannot represent the issues of everyone, so regardless it will always be an issue at hand, but it is having that person that everyone else feels comfortable to have elected, that they know they can go to that person and submit any questions they might have to ensure that the University and the Union address them.  

Fiona asked if this was something they are voting to approve or deny or if it is a working document and Avila said that she would prefer if it was voted and then amendments can take place to ensure that everyone is happy with the wording. If people prefer to leave it for voting for a later date she was also happy for that. Fiona agreed to vote now and then maybe make very small changes or if it was denied they can go back and have a look. Olivia asked if it could be approved generally, but approve Avila to make a few changes (general overview of amendments) 


Approve: 10 

Deny: 1 

Abstain: 2 

Outcome: Approved 

This was approved, that was with the general overview and if any specific changes happen they can look over as it comes in with the rest of any reviews. 


As the meeting had overrun, Olivia and Nicole had to leave the meeting. 

8. COVID-19 and Lockdown

Q: There was special considerations for Taught students last year, but has there been any updates about extensions to PGR students due to the original lockdown even though their deadlines were not until September? 

A: Olivia said that Avila would be the best person to ask as she works directly with the Doctoral College, but Olivia can raise it and try to send an answer afterwards. 

Action: Olivia to raise the question to Avila and send an answer afterwards. 

9. SUSU’s new strategy

Q; What are the immediate consequences of the strategy? 

A: Olivia said that the strategy is a long term thing so they are going to start implementing it immediately. With regards to cost implications, Olivia clarified that the Union is following a phased approach to the new branding, and that the new branding is designed to highlight the strategy. She said that changes will happen only when they are needed. 


Corin mentioned if anyone wants to get in touch with the Sabbs to message them on Teams or any other platform they use. Fiona mentioned that even though Senate is only once a term, there is still the You Make Change Platform and all students can ask questions throughout the year. 

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