Union Senate (18th February 2021)


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Name of Committee Union Senate
Date and time 18th February 2021, 12:00
Present Members
Senator Nick Hillier
Senator Wilson Odek
Chair of Senate Fiona Sunderland
Vice President Education and Democracy Avila Chidume
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 Victoria Babeau
Senator Ahmet İbrahim Aydoğan Aydogan
Senator Jianan Zhang
1. Welcome and Introductions

The Chair of Union Senate, Fiona Sunderland welcomed all those present for the second meeting of the academic year. Fiona shared the agenda and ran through the etiquette for the meeting. 

2. Minutes of previous meeting

Fiona directed the Senators to the link to the previous minutes.  

Senators voted to approve the minutes.  

Approve: 10  

Abstain: 0 

Reject: 0  

Outcome: Approved 

Papers and Reports
3. Sabbatical Reports

Nicole Akuezumba, VP Welfare and Community  

Nicole summarised her report (attached to minutes) and she replied to the questions below: 

Q: What is the actual strategy for widely sharing enabling/well-being resources? 

A: Nicole said that this is still in early stages. Both Nicole and Enabling realised there was clearly a lack of awareness and accessing Enabling Services resources. They have identified that and even though they do not have a set plan yet, Nicole asked if anyone in the meeting had any suggestions on how to do that to let her know. 

Q: What was the bid for the council funding. Could you go into more detail? 

A: Last year they had an open bid across the UK for improving mental health resources and services that universities offer. For Southampton they decided to focus their campaign on black students. Nicole identified there was a clear lack of black counsellors in Enabling, so the point of the bid was to request to have a few more initiatives, like a mentoring scheme that would allow students who were studying Nursing an opportunity to learn more about counselling and to gain the skills to become counsellors as part of their degrees. Nicole then asked for funding to help with this scheme. If the University are able to secure funding this is something they will be working on.  

Q: Disabilities officer not available so work is halted – should you not be ensuring work is ongoing in this area so disabled students are not negatively impacted? 

A: Nicole clarified that they would not be able to work on any campaigns and projects the Disabilities Officer had in mind as Nicole was not aware of them. But besides that Nicole said that she is still working with students with disabilities and ensuring that when Nicole is speaking to the University about accessibility needs, she is reaching out to students who are neurodiverse to guide her voice. She reaches out to people from the Neurodiversity society as well as students she personally knows who are neurodiverse. 

Q: How many students are sat on boards and working groups? 

A: Nicole said the main working group is the Widening Participation Student Advisory Board which has around 8 – 10 students. They sit on that Board but they also feed in parts of the University’s work. There is also student involvement in the Race Equality Charter, which is another University led bunch of working groups, and there is also student engagement in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. There are also a few Education related working groups that also have involvement from Postgraduate studentsFinally Nicole mentioned that there are working groups that do involve students, but they do it through surveys, or workshops, rather than requiring them to sit on all the working group meetings, because they are not all relevant. 

No other questions were asked. 

Corin Holloway, VP Activities 

Corin summarised his report and replied to the questions below: 

Q: Have you seen a trend to new communication (eg discord) over email – we would be interested in hearing what your experience/observations are on this. 

A: Corin believes that email is the best communication as it reaches everyone. He believes that it works but we should not overdo it. Other things work as well, such as Discord, Instagram, Facebook, but not everyone uses everything. Also messaging people individually is very effective when it comes to engaging people because they are more likely to respond.  

Q: Refreshers week: howe did societies engage? 

A: Corin admitted that Refreshers week was not as successful as he would like it to have been as it was online and they tried not to invest a lot of resources into it because from other online events, they had very low turnout and they did not want to spend a lot of money on it. Corin also mentioned that they are working with Native platform to run free online events for everyone throughout the year. 

Q: How much money were you able to secure for coaching fees? 

A: £ 6,868  

Q: With regards to lobbying over Nuffield, when you say lobbying, what has actually been done and what has been achieved? Is there a report of what lobbying you have done and what has worked/hasn’t worked? 

A: Corin said that both him and Olivia are working with the University. Lots of things have stalled at the moment due to Covid, but Olivia is going to be raising this to University Boards. After being asked by Senator Nick Hillier if they are actively working together with the Uni on this document or if SUSU are pushing and if there is a strategy, Korin said there is no strategy and that SUSU are pushing in every meeting they can. The Chair of Senate also added that the University wants SUSU to be involved, so Korin is there to get feedback and they are taking the strategy side out of it. The Union President also mentioned that there are 2 strands to this work. There is the use of the building of Nuffield which they are keen to see more student involvement in, and then there is the building project itself, which is a priority for the University. Corin is confident that we will see some investment in the building, and our involvement has been feeding into papers through the student voice. 

Q: What have your officers been up to and how you have been holding them to account? 

A: Corin said that he meets with them from time to time to discuss how SUSU can help them with societies and they have been very good at communicating with their societies, and talking with Korinand also about society funding. Media Heads basically run themselves. Corin is still talking with them to make sure everything is alright. 

No other questions were asked. 

Sam Tweedle, VP Sports 

Sam summarised his report and responded to the questions below: 

Q: Could we see the results/summary of the survey of club long term effects? 

A: Sam said that he would be happy to share a summary now of high level data, as to where they are seeing the effects or covid on clubs. After clubs and socs responded to a survey they mentioned that they would be affected by inexperienced committees, who will not know what normal is like. 49%  said they would find it hard to find people run for a committee. 40% said they would be affected by problems with recruiting volunteers. 16% said that their first aid certificates have all expired during lockdown. 18% of clubs and socs said their membership numbers were very low. On a positive note, 15% said they were in a very strong position apart from committee experience, and another 4% said they were in a very strong position regardless. Sam said that SUSU will do everything we can tmake things work and keep as many clubs and socs alive. 

Q: What is the timescale for the WideLane flooding? 

A: Sam could not answer this, as he mentioned that things very often do not move as quickly as we would like. He offered to give a summary of where the project is sat at the minute. So, a business case has just gone in to Estates Programme Board to get the works approved, which means that Student Services have already approved it, which is a positive sign. But Sam warned that infrastructure projects do not move quickly, and said that we should not expect something within the year, but there seems to be some progress. 

Q: How much money were you able to secure for coaching fees? 

A: The answer was the same as Corin’s (£6,868) and Sam added that this is split across sports and societies, probably more towards the societies than sports. Sam said that they took the decision to support online coaching for clubs by maintaining the coaching grant payments, so there is money for online coaching through that as well. 

No other questions were asked. 

Olivia Reed, Union President 

Olivia summarised her report and answered the following questions:  

Q: How did the discussions with the hospital go with user engagement? 

A: Olivia mentioned that they had representation froMedSoc and herself and they talked about doing some events in the Spring, to look how to reach out to students and how they can get students involved in their panels and discussions. Olivia said that this is something that has been picked up by MedSoc but she is happy to feed back later. There was also some representatives from Solent. 

Q: Is there a particular reason for targeting Facebook over other platforms (e.g. engagement stats, polls, etc)? 

A: Olivia said ‘no’. Olivia believes that SUSU should be hitting a wide variety of different platforms. 

Q: Could you give more detail/explanation to what the Student Hub one stop shops entails? 

A: Olivia said that it is essentially looking at having a ‘one stop’ for students where they can go with questions and get a response. The aim of the project is first to look at how this can be implemented in the University and then look at finding some physical space to match the two together. 

Q: Where and how will you be trialing the Student Hub? 

A: Olivia said it will be initially trialed in Building 37, which is the Student Services Building. The idea is for the University to have a more casual drop in, easy to access at all sites, but they will be starting from Building 37. 

Q: Is there a timeline for SUSU Sustainability plan, is this expected to be carried over past your term? 

A: Olivia mentioned that SUSU and the University have signed a joint Sustainability strategy, which was published early this autumn. It is a long reaching strategy so it will carry on past Olivia’s term. In terms of the more short pick-up things Olivia said they need to make sure they are doing an implementation plan for SUSU as well, but that is built into the new strategy work they are doing. 

Q: What is the timeline for Building 42, what do the Union need to do to make sure this progresses? 

A: Regarding the timeline Olivia mentioned that she thinks it is fairly likely for things to happen in 5 years. What can be done at the moment to see it progress is to keep pushing it, and Olivia mentions in every meeting she attends that the SUSU building needs to be transformed as it is very tired and not fit for purpose. Olivia also mentioned that it is included in the University’s priorities for Highfield campus and she also received reassurance from the Vice Chancellor that it will be in their areas of focus.  

Q: Was there a discussion of starting the Student Hub on any other campus? Was there any reason why other sites weren’t considered? 

A: The whole plan is for it to be transferred to other sites as well, but it is starting from Highfield because the building is already there, so staff have already integrated into that building, but it will be rolled out to all other sites as well. 

Q: Will this roll out regardless of how the trial goes? 

A: Olivia said that the Modernising Student Experience Project will happen regardless. The core aims of the project will not change. 

Avila Chidume, VP Education and Democracy 

Avila summarised her report and answered the following questions:  

Q: What did you learn from other Unversities’ PG Officers? How do they engage with students? 

A: Avila said that UCL have specific officers for postgraduate students, because 57% of the student population is postgraduates, so they found that it is easier to have one student focus on postgraduates, however they also struggle to fill rep roles, by postgraduate and especially the research students. They are also working like us on improving our social media, identifying which areas postgraduate students use on social media and our Insights Manager has been doing a lot of work on that. 

Q: (Goal 3) What changes were made to make seminars more accessible/how does that differ from lecture accessibility? 

A: This is an ongoing project. Avila is currently collecting feedback from course reps on how assessments went. One of the things a lot of people have been asking for are captions on recorded lectures. 

Q: Could we get more information on what was involved in the PGR and staff reverse mentoring? 

A: Avila mentioned that this has not started yet. The process is first beginning with UEB, which is one of the other Boards, but then once this has started, the Doctoral College are going to look into how to get researchers to engage more with the staff, and for the staff to get a better understanding of the areas that affect researchers. 

Q: What mental health training is for lecturer and PATs? 

A: Currently the Centre for Higher Education and Practice have released a new training course in collaboration with Solent Minds for lecturers. It is available but the issue is that a lot of it is voluntary, so staff do not have to do itAvila’s goal is to now work with course reps to lobby the staff, especially during their Staff Student Liaison Committees and encourage staff to do this.  

Q: How much funding is there with the doctoral college for BAME research students? 

  • Is this aimed nationally or within the uni? 
  • Will it be aimed at specific areas of research/faculties? 

A: The deadline was on the 28th January, however the Doctoral College decided not to continue to pursue it this year, because they found that they would first need to assess and evaluate any existing issues which BAME student are facing. It was a national campaign, and they were working to partner with other universities to see how they would use the funding. It was about 3 million offered by the government. However, now they are working on improving the current issues that exist within the Doctoral College itself, so are now forming a working group to begin that. 

Q: How big is the diversity section in the library at the moment and what do we want it to be? 

A: Avila believes that currently it is a decent size. It is something which was introduced a couple of months ago, however the library are constantly adding to it. If students feel there is something they would like to see, they are able to request it and the library will get it available for them. Avila said that they are now working on promoting it more. 

Q: Has all revalidation of courses had decolonisation put in the agenda? As in they need to meet the criteria for this to be revalidated. And is this for all courses, not just UG? 

A: This is something that AQSE had approved. It is something each module will be evaluated on, however, it is a matter of when the evaluations come up. It is supposed to be around June, so Avila will be working with AQSE or holding them to account to make sure these things are implemented. As the project grows, it will be something that is a lot more common. Avila stressed that we want questions on decolonization to come up in module evaluation surveys to make sure this is constantly a topic. 

Q: With regards to the BAME research student. Is this becoming an annual call. It feels like this is a key area the Uni can lead on. Is there a fixed aim of the working group? 

A: Avila said that as it currently stands it is really about identifying areas for improvement. One of the areas is with recruitment and accepting people into the different departments, but it is also extending outwards into looking at the participation for PGTs and UGs too. 

4. Eligibility Criteria: Clarification Paper

Avila went through the reviewed eligibility criteria for the LGBTQ+ Officer and International Officer (paper attached). Fiona clarified that this was already voted to approve in the first Senate meeting, and these were a couple of specific amendments that came up, so this is what the Senators will be voting for. 

Senators voted. 

Approve: 13 

Abstain: 0 

Reject: 0  

Outcome: Approved 

5. Proposed amendments to Rule 11

Sam explained that the reason behind these amendments come from the work they have been doing protecting clubs and societies as much as they can from the adverse impact of Covid. Sam went through the amendments (paper attached) and answered the questions below: 

Q: Given the restrictions 6.6 and 6.8 why are you restricting the positions where alumni can run and how many? 

A: The reasoning around the President, Vice President and Treasurer is because they are the officers who are most responsible for the club, so having the leader of a club not being a student would not fit in with the student-led nature. The other reason is that they are also the positions with the most power and, in turn, the ones with the most capacity for abusive power, particularly the Treasurer role. So, we do not want this to be an alumni who would be harder to hold accountable. The one where there is some room for discussion is the Vice President. But the President and the Treasurer should be students, as they would be able to go through the student discipline process.  

Q: Is there actually need for 6.5? Is there anything wrong with having 3 alumni, if it is a role not very senior? 

A: Sam said that they wanted to keep the student led nature of clubs and societies. If they feel that they can relax it and if Senate is happy for them to relax it, Sam would be willing to relax 6.5. 

Q: Have there been any clubs or societies that had to unaffiliate due to covid? 

A: Sam said there weren’t as he believes they have been doing a good job in helping clubs and socs. The issue is when the experienced committee members start to leave, they are going to have the risk of falling downCorin also added that he would be very happy to relax the rules in order to help clubs and societies. The voting would include the possibility of having point 6.5 removed, so Sam would not need to ask Senators again to remove the point. The question about the Vice President could also be flexible and would not need to go to Senate again. Senator Nick Hillier suggested SUSU sending some kind of report stating why this has or has not happened. Sam said he would include that in his next Sabb report for the next Senate meeting. 

Action: Sam to report on the implementation of point 6.5 in the next Senate meeting. 

Senators voted 

Approve: 13 

Abstain: 0 

Reject: 0  

Outcome: Approved 

6. Petition:No Detriment Policy

Avila summarised that after the University announced that they would not be following the no detriment policy as it was last year, many students felt that this was unfair. The University would implement new measures which were more appropriate. Avila also mentioned her report (attached) which outlined all the conversations that were happening between the University and SUSU with regards to the no detriment policy. Avila said that many students even though they wanted a no-detriment policy, they were not sure what this should look like. Avila finally said that we were able to secure things, such as mark scaling, and changing the special considerations policy. Fiona asked if Senators were to lobby the University, what the no detriment policy would look like, but Avila said that it is not clear from the petition what the student was looking for. Avila also stressed that we were capable of securing one thousand pounds for the Online Support Fund not only for UK students but for EU and International students as well. The student who had submitted the petition was not present in the meeting and as it was not clear what the student meant by the term no-detriment policy, the Senators decided to vote and on putting the petition on hold until further information was provided by the student and then we could Round Robin it. The Senators voted. 

Senators voted 

Approve: 10 

Abstain: 1 

Reject: 3 

Outcome: Approved 

7. Covid

No comments or questions were asked. 

8. Tuition Fees

No comments or questions were asked. 

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