VP Sport, Cassie Osborne, started by talking about EDI and that she is planning to increase sporting opportunities, encouraging students to participate and collaborate with sports clubs on their EDI planning.
She stated that it she will be working on establishing clearer pathways for disability in sport by working on a disability campaign with the university. As well as working with clubs to highlight disabilities, increase awareness about mental and learning disabilities not just physical and conducting an EDI forum at WSA every last week of the month so that students give feedback on EDI. The aim for participation in these forums is 10-12 students. She encouraged those present to attend those forums.
She proceeded to explain that she would also like to help work on Jubilee Sports memberships to reduce the price of memberships and help disabled students and that there are also concerns about building accessibility issues in Jubilee.
Afterwards she proceeded to elaborate on her plans about WSA concerning loan of sports equipment where she stated she had no budget for it but had found the materials herself in storage spaces in SUSU but that there are also difficulties regarding lack of facilities at WSA. Cassie has established networking events and at the time of the meeting already one networking meeting had happened, weekly yoga sessions at WSA and she is working to establish badminton sessions for students as it was highly requested.
She moved onto publicity and recognition where she explained that she will be going to BUCS games, helping with publicising sports and being part of the formulation of the 5-year sports plan over the next year. There will also be a plan on volunteers and how to record BUCS and sports clubs to help with publicity, revitalising Team Soton to help with the recovery from covid-19, further include intramural clubs, improve provision of referees, competition and including a sports team of the month. The sports team of the month will be picked through student vote and then Activities Team alongside VP Sports will pick based on SUSU values.
Subsequently, she elaborated on transparency within sport by explaining that she would like to increase sport committee transparency, increase visibility and involvement of officers whilst expanding their responsibilities and work on block booking. She stated that she is working on the club/societies report function and explained that it will be an area to report non-inclusive culture within clubs and it will allow her to work with clubs on inclusion and how to represent all students. Lastly, she explained the Hidden Cost in Sport investigation, where she said that there are additional costs to just that of memberships and so she wants to investigate what is necessary and unnecessary for students to participate in order to help clubs with equipment costs and therefore she deems it important to gather information for the next VP Sports to be able to use.
She went through pre-submitted questions. She started by explaining there will not be any cost concerning photos at BUCS as she will be doing it herself and will collaborate with relevant staff in marketing within Southampton sport. Furthermore, she added that the purpose of the hidden cost investigation is to gain more feedback and knowledge on how much students spend and that it will inform future planning. As there was confusion about what revitalising the Team Soton brand means she explained that her goal is create a unified team by having a mascot at Stags and creating a community culture which she specified would come to no cost. She explained that she would like to promote better knowledge of BUCS, BUCS fixtures and work through issues with costs and cancellations. After questions regarding discussions with kit providers she answered that discussions are currently confidential with prior kit supplier due to legal reasons, but they are in the process of cutting loose ends to move forward. Lastly, she answered questions regarding sponsorship information and specified that she would like to have ‘how to guidelines’ on sponsorships, how to find information about sponsorships and how to be safe and overall provide more information on this matter.
Having concluded her own presentation and answered pre-submitted questions she was asked questions from those present. Firstly, she was asked about GIAG (Give it a Go) planning regarding EDI where she answered that there is GIAG coordinator, and she would like to lead them towards such planning and those present requested she work on EDI planning with clubs for GIAG. Secondly, she was asked if she had considered having a sports magazine column to include highlights and to that she answered that the position is unfilled for sports for Wessex Scene but she is happy to consider this request and to write an action plan. She was then asked about the feasibility of the report function she had mentioned earlier to which she answered that they will trial using Microsoft form to reduce costs and she was requested to further circulate it to which she happy to do so and then collaborate with SUSU Safe to increase awareness. She was then asked if intramural teams can apply for funding through block grants to which she replied that only societies and clubs and the intramural teams related to those clubs and societies can apply so her goal is to have intramural specific funding hence why she would like to research the needs of intramural teams through surveys and breakdown of costs. Regarding the revitalisation of Team Soton, she was asked whether there would be an overhaul of individuality of clubs to which she responded that the goal is to create a united brand and promote cross collaboration and sharing of information through Team Soton but there would be no overhaul of individuality. Lastly, the topic of the report function was revisited, and she was asked about whether she would be consulting clubs on this function to which she responded that there will be no change to the disciplinary procedure, and it will provide information on clubs and their culture. She was also asked about how tension will be avoided between members and club committee regarding the function to which she responded that mediation is already part of clubs and disciplinary procedures and there is already experience in mediation and this function will allow information to come back to SUSU.
VP Education and Democracy
VP Education and Democracy, Emily Bastable, began by explaining the costs and where funds are coming from for her projects. She stated that for surveys where there are prize draws it is part of the existing insight budget and there is a pre-agreed budget for additional surveys which stands at £350 and that the focus groups prizes are funded by the campaigns budget which is at £400. She specified that there are no costs for partnerships and for her Real Student Stories Project there is no cost to SUSU and that the students hired will be paid from the budget of the Engagement Team which is estimated to be around £4500 whilst the library will be paying for the mentor and training overall from their budget where the cost is estimated to be around £2000. She will update senate members on costs in the next session further. She stated that for the activism training the cost is yet unknown and that the Student Support infographic focus group comes from the existing campaign budget and it is low as there is only refreshments offered.
Afterwards she proceeded to update the senate on her projects as was requested in the pre-submitted questions. She started by updating members of Senate on the January assessments project where she said she had contacted schools to get them to volunteer for her project, after they volunteered there was nomination of school leads, and School Presidents have been worked to gather data on effectiveness from student perspective, afterwards the outcome will be presented to the university which will be considered when reviewing outdated policy by the Education Committee. She emphasised that as it concerns bureaucratic change it will be a slow process.
Subsequently, she gave updates on the Real Student Stories project. She explained that the applications are anonymised and sent to the recruitment panel which is made up by representatives of stakeholders and she specified that she is not part of this panel to ensure transparency and appropriateness. After selection she will be emailing the successful students to congratulate them and give them further information. At the time of the meeting there were 15 applications from different programmes of study and backgrounds, access and participation as stated by university policy which she offered to share with senators.
Concerning Activism Training she said that due to TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) submission deadline being in December/January, it has been pushed to a late time due to prioritisation of TEF. She proceeded to explain that she would investigate rerunning the conference for inclusion and diversity in education as part of activism training and this training would relate to social justice and change. She explained her involvement in TEF by explaining that she is working on conducting focus groups involving student reps from either high or low performing schools in order to learn more about student feedback. She specified that they would start happening the next week (at the time of the senate meeting) and there would be financial incentives for those partaking.
She proceeded to explain her work concerning postgraduate research students which she specified is separate to the rest of her work as it is very different in nature and that she is part of the communications between the Doctoral College and SUSU regarding assisting postgraduate research students with finance and funding.
Lastly, she talked about her business-as-usual attendance at meetings which she included in her report and answered the pre-submitted questions regarding the Race Equality Charter. She specified that the Race Equality Charter is something that the university has signed up for and they submitted a self-assessment and provided an action plan based on that. As a result, they were awarded bronze so they can proceed on following the action plan. She stated that she has worked on it previously but also now as VP Education and Democracy and she will be keeping the university accountable to what they have agreed to do as part of the action plan. She also explained there are meetings such as the Research Ethics Committee which she is there for monitoring purposes to ensure that no actions will be taken that will harm students’ interests.
At the end, she was asked about the cost to SUSU regarding TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), to which she responded that there is no considerable cost. She explained that her role is to ensure there is student accountability towards the university, so they do not make themselves look more favourable and to explain what is happening and provide context to the Office for Students to ensure accuracy and honesty and she specified that it does not exceed campaign budget. She was also asked about whether she had considered the implication of a strong guideline rather than blanket guidelines for the January assessment review to which she responded that it would depend on the feedback received from students and staff.
The Union President, Oliver Murray, began by explaining initiatives for student safety and experience and that he is looking into the housing accreditation scheme that currently exists which is a self-certification system and that he is working with the university to revise it. He briefly added that regarding the lettings agency the goal is to reduce tenancy gaps. He mentioned the SUSU sleepover where the goal is to cover the housing gap that occurs on the June 30th so that students have somewhere to stay for the night and he said that there will be student consultation over the next year concerning this. Furthermore, he spoke about research around security applications to be used and although he is not currently involved in the business case he had requested to be involved and currently applications used at other universities to contact security,999 and other emergency numbers are being looked at.
Additionally, he spoke of current plans to further engage with students in different sites of the university by expanding the site strategy, working with the sites officers and the halls officer and network with reps from sites and course reps. He is particularly collaborating with the Winchester School of Art and the National Oceanography Centre Southampton among others. He moved on to break down the allocation of the £1million block grant which included graduation assistance, student communities, access to activities, as requested in pre-submitted questions. As part of this planning, he has been working with the careers director and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations in the university to plan spending on alumni services. Afterwards, he answered pre-submitted questions regarding cost-of-living initiatives where he specified that that a plot in Glen Eyre that is for societies is being used as testing ground for student involvement regarding fresh produce production. He moved on to explain that one of his goals is the implementation of a loyalty scheme but there are technological issues involved. He added that meal deals have been reduced to £3.75 and there is more research happening to see what other deals can be put in place to help with the cost-of-living crisis and that he has negotiated donations of food from the university for the food cupboard.
Subsequently, he spoke about business-as-usual meetings and everyday activities of his role. He began by explaining that he is chair of the trustee board and as part of that he is involved with discussions relating to any organisational change within SUSU, the recent appointment of CEO, leadership meetings and general monitoring of estates. He mentioned that in the coming year he will be involved in the appointment of the director of membership and that of external trustees. He further explained that as part of daily activities he forms professional ties with university staff and is present at student education services meetings, meets with students who come to see him and participates in regular social media updates and fortnightly emails with updates. Furthermore, he participates in Southern Union conferences and regularly connects with Russell Group Student Unions but there has been no response to connection on a local level to which he will follow up. He spoke about stakeholder engagement beyond his tenure where he is working on establishing partnerships with universities and work on the image of SUSU and union president towards the university. He added that there is work to be done concerning visibility and transparency and stressed the commitment to being carbon negative in the future.
Regarding sustainability, he said that representative roles have been established with the Representation Team with the roles being filled over previous elections. He added that he recognises that the Veg Out space is underutilised but there is research taking place into growing fresh produce in that space. There is continuous research in the sustainability strategy of other universities and as part of his role he will be ensuring that there is involvement in sustainability strategy of the University and Council.
He proceeded to answer pre-submitted questions regarding finished renovations and plans for future renovations. He began by providing clarification on the renovation of B42 and explained that due to the building existing since the 60s it has been showing signs of ageing and some deterioration and as such, he will be lobbying the university to further it in their list of priorities but with consideration to other priorities and he added that this is a more long term goal and will concern the next few years and that no money from SUSU will be spent on this. Concerning the recent renovation and refurbishment of Stags he explained that it was included in the Freshers survey which found that 81% of those surveyed were positive and 14% were neutral regarding the resulting changes and that it is representative of all year groups. He opened the floor to questions, and he was asked to explain the Halls Officer role and he provided an explanation based on the role description from the latest elections. He was then asked what was involved in the graduation assistance spending and he answered that photography and robing were included and he will be asking the university to ensure future and continuous support of these through their business-as-usual spending. Afterwards members of Senate requested to receive updates on the loyalty scheme to which he agreed. He was asked what is currently happening about the housing accreditation system to which he responded that there are discussions and research around whether to reform the current system or develop a new accreditation system and how the existing system would be reconsidered if the decision is to reform it. Lastly, he was asked what updates are regarding alumni support to which he responded that they are waiting for feedback from already taken actions in the previous academic year and then liaise with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to make use of their own network for future action.
VP Community and Welfare
VP Community and Welfare, Aycha Ates-Di Adamo, began with the subject of student safety and harassment. She explained that her campaign Southampton says enough is based on a government equivalent campaign and includes all students. The aim of this campaign is to develop a support system with stakeholders on sexual harassment and violence, work with students on lit-route scheme which includes mapping of routes to living areas and halls in the overall Solent area whilst looking at lighting, CCTV coverage, bus stops, taxi ranks, police patrols which will help with suggestions of routes from centre to student homes. She also added that she is working on a safer bus stops campaign based on research that is transferable to Southampton, with driver safety training, emergency telephones and alarms and see-through bus stops and lighting. She said she is working with the Head of Transport to include the U1N line for the bus pass and to reduce costs of U1N and they are looking into the capacity for costs to be absorbed by the bus company. She added that the cost is not known yet, but she has asked for it.
She proceeded to talk about safe spaces in nightclubs initiative where she strives to have licensing agreement to include safe spaces and standardised welfare training. She added that she is working on education regarding sexual harassment through Blackboard and for staff too.
Afterwards, she moved onto the topic of the nighttime economy forum. She explained that this forum includes universities, Students’ Unions, the Council and the violence reduction unit in Solent area. Currently the goal is for prioritised data to be collected to inform decisions and more involvement in the community is sought after. She spoke about the Student Safety Charter for nightclubs which includes among others anti spiking initiatives. The current progress of this forum is that terms of references have been established, the launch of the Southampton says enough scheme is being launched through an event next week (at the time of the meeting) to demand more lighting from Southampton Council, thank stakeholders and to increase awareness.
Next, she spoke about the Student Mental Health Charter where she explained that the Union president last submitted a self-assessment of student mental health provision and now, she is working on including more information about postgraduate taught and research students. She added that towards the end of second semester there will be a 2-day visit from the charity Student Minds as part of this, but she does not have any details currently of what that will entail.
She ended her own presentation by talking about the Say my Name campaign where she collaborated with the BAME officer, and the Afro-Caribbean society and it was based on student feedback. Due to the success of the campaign, there was request from students to extend the campaign for other groups. She added that the goal is to embed phonetic spelling and recordings in emails. She noted that it was a very student-led campaign, and she is hopeful for more student involvement during the extension.
She proceeded to answer the pre-submitted questions regarding integration of Chinese students. She said that to help with this integration there is a pre-sessional language course with additional activities, pre-sessional helpers are employed to help those students and there is a buddy system for those students. She added that SUSU is active on WeChat and the goal is to involve Chinese students through celebrations they want to see such as the lunar new year celebration with the involvement of Chinese Scholars' Association and other Chinese societies. She also said that there many specific activities in the Winchester School of Art where there are a lot of Chinese students and there are also Give it A Go session which are particularly aimed towards international and postgraduate students.
She moved onto the welfare cupboard where she is looking into having HIV testing kits and she is communicating with a potential supplier but also looking into other suppliers and she will be making information about HIV testing more visible through QR code in the welfare cupboard. She added that regarding spiking devices she does not have any data yet regarding effectiveness and uptake but is willing to share once there is. She spoke about the welfare rooms where she has used £250 out of the £1000, she was allocated, and the rest will be used after consultation with the disability officer and societies and is willing to share how the remaining budget will be spent.
Regarding the postgraduate student bursary, she explained that it concerns masters course students that have graduated for the summer between their undergraduate and postgraduate and explained that there is future consideration about application and budgeting with the Student Success Team. She also added that for the wellbeing fund the Head of Student Success is dealing with applications.
She opened the floor to questions and firstly was asked where she could advocate for gates to be put around student halls and to have guards and she said she would investigate it. She was then asked if she can publicise student cases of sexual harassment or violence to create awareness and she responded that some societies already do it and she would investigate whether the SUSU official account can repost.
One of the members present, Curtis Parfitt-Ford, who is also a trustee and involved in the First Aid Society, asked about the potential of the society to be involved in discussions regarding training, at which point the Chair of Senate requested for this to be recorded as a conflict of interest. The VP Welfare and Community responded that she would look into it.
Lastly, she added that the SUSU received £5000 in the form of a grant from the council for safety initiatives out of which £200 was used for the launch of Southampton Says Enough. Lastly, she clarified from a technical perspective how the phonetic software for emails will work.