Oliver Murray, Union President, started his report by going over some new projects and progress since last senate meeting. He started by explaining he is currently working with Solent university to look into the SASSH accreditation system. Furthermore, he added that immediate feedback will be included in Halls to allow students to give feedback.
The Union President proceeded to talk about having renegotiated the block grant alongside the CEO and COO, with the result being that there were increases of £500k from which 75% is for utilities and 25% is for grant funding for clubs and societies. He spoke about having a meeting with the COO of the university to add a representative from SUSU on the Gold Command which is a committee for urgent situations. Additionally, he hosted the Bournemouth Student Union sabbatical officers to discuss best practice.
From a civic engagement and local impact perspective, Oliver is working on furthering relations with the City Council and establishing more regular meetings between SUSU and the City Council. He added that he is working on civic engagement of students and looking into reintroducing the opt-out voter registration system.
Regarding sustainability, Oliver spoke about the successful recruitment and induction of the new Head of Sustainability and emphasised that they are available to chat with students and gain ideas and feedback and that they are currently working on more accurate measurement of carbon emissions. Also, he said that he is looking into enacting a ban on all flyers including business partners.
Lastly, he spoke about the current process of looking into laundry services provision in halls with fees for those services being included into halls fees and therefore having a rough increase of 1% in halls fees. Oliver is investigating student feedback regarding a Big Night on June 30th to provide students with a safe place to stay, which is needed due to tenancy gaps. He finished by inviting those present to ask any questions.
Firstly, he was asked how the bidding process works regarding laundry services in halls, to which Oliver responded that there are currently 5 bidders, but he does not have any idea on who will be getting the contract. Afterwards, the Union President was asked how will the ban on flyering work regarding the board at Staggs, to which he answered that the goal is to reduce mass flyering and the board will only have a couple flyers on there by societies.
Oliver was also asked whether he thinks that through the SUSU Sustainability Strategy, SUSU can put pressure on the university to make investments more sustainable. He replied that the main focus is SUSU’s own impact, and he can have conversations with the Head of Sustainability about it and he is currently on the Sustainable Investment Committee and is receiving help from the Head of Sustainability regarding reviewed information.
The Union President was then asked to specify who would be the aforementioned representative for the Gold Command, to which he specified that it would likely be a SUSU staff and either the CEO or COO. Lastly, he was asked how would the changes in the City Council budget affect SUSU and students, to which he replied that currently there is an agenda being set to discuss the relationship between the council and SUSU.
Aycha Ates-Di Adamo, VP Welfare, started her report by discussing new projects she has picked up in the last semester. She started by talking about planning and launch of Body Power Week which developed into a variety of activities to improve inclusivity within sports and collaborated with sports clubs regarding this. She added that there was a student staff collaborative event as part of this campaign, and she managed to engage with students who were normally not so engaged with SUSU.
She briefly spoke about the sexual health sign up fair which she characterized as very successful in terms of sign-ups. Furthermore, Aycha spoke about the lit routes project and said that new maps will replace old ones and they will show the routes with street lighting with yellow. VP Welfare mentioned that she negotiated successfully to have 32 more streets lit particularly around nightclubs and that the schedule for having turned off lights was between 1 and 4 am. The graphic designer has been working on it and the map will be ready for discussions and will include other important points such as ATMs and CCTV.
Aycha proceeded to speak about having achieved the inclusion of 24/7 receptions of halls of residence in the Safe Space scheme of the council. Regarding her Southampton Says Enough Campaign she is working on communications with the university and SUSU regarding available resources. Also, she will be including communications regarding progress on improvement of lighting within the campus. There are also discussions happening with LGBTQ+ society and disabilities officer regarding the planning of the gender recognition fund.
Lastly, Aycha spoke about her research into having medical bursary funds and the discussions she has had with students regarding this issue. They are working with the university on having a system where students give necessary information to the university and the bursaries given would allow for the gap in monetary support to be closed. She finished by opening the floor to any questions.
Firstly, she was asked what has happened overall with the lights being turned off, to which she answered that there were some teething issues initially due to administration issues and that she walked at 2 am to ensure that lights were on where they were supposed to be on and there were some issues on communicating the outcome. Overall, she noted that there is positive feedback about the routes. As a follow-up question, it was asked what were the crime statistics as a result of the lights going off, to which Aycha responded that that they will be published at the end of May so they will review that information then but they do receive security reports from around campuses which show no significant changes with mostly bikes theft being reported.
Additionally, she was asked what assurances she has received that the lit routes will be kept, to which she replied that she has received assurances that it will be the same for 2 years. It was also added that the safety bus will remain free as it is part of secured funding within the block grant.
VP Welfare added that she is researching who would be using the gender affirmation fund and how much they would need. Regarding the matter of having gender neutral toilets, Aycha said she has received feedback which showed that there should be both gender neutral toilets and gendered toilets to consider everyone’s needs and that there are discussions being had with the LGBTQ+ society regarding wording and she is working on having a diverse team for the wellbeing team to address all needs.
VP Education and Democracy
Emily Bastable, VP Education and Democracy started her report by discussing the progress on previously discussed goals. Firstly, she said that an action plan will be published involving the Doctoral College and SUSU about improving work life balance with changes being made to supervisor training, how postgraduate research students find demonstrator jobs and overall expectations. Furthermore, regarding Real Student Stories she said that the launch event is coming up in June and the exhibition is available to the public.
Emily proceeded to speak about the student voice toolkit and said that she has presented at the Change Agents Conference, and it will be live on a website by June. She explained that it defines different types of dialogues and engagement with students and that staff will need to use specific definitions when saying that they have involved student voice in their projects. She added that there is appetite for it to be published at a conference as a publicly available resource.
VP Education and Democracy updated on the Special Consideration procedure changes where she summarised that feedback from over 200 students was used to inform the process and that were multiple forms of consultation with trials in some schools that brought positive feedback. She added that the change in regulations has been approved and it needs to be finally approved by the university senate. The changes will include having only one form with no need for supporting evidence, having guidance available for when evidence is needed and when you are with the Disability and Wellbeing team, they will be providing evidence, with only limited people being able to see that evidence. Additionally, extensions and late penalty waivers will be at the discretion of the assessor rather than the Special Considerations board which will reduce waiting for a provisional decision, and it will mean than more students will be seen sooner with some exceptions. There will also be self-certification in circumstances where evidence can be unavailable or inappropriate. Emily added that alongside VP Welfare she has been working on having communication to explain how to get free medical evidence for this process with her explaining that med 3 certificate is free and accepted. Furthermore, new student and staff guidance and videos are being made to explain these changes.
She moved on to speak about small changes being made with respect to academic integrity when AI is used in work where it has not been authorised where it was specified that usual penalties regarding third person authorship will apply. Finally, she updated on the academic engagement monitoring project where software has been selected for attendance registration which is being trialed on PGCE students. Emily finished by opening the floor to questions.
Emily was asked if the student voice toolkit will still keep students giving feedback anonymously, to which she replied that it will not affect the anonymity of students, but it will describe the process used to get student feedback. Lastly, she was asked whether there will be any AI detection tools, to which she replied that the university opted out of Turnitin AI detection software.
VP Activities, Zoe Chapple, started her report by discussing ongoing society promotion. She said that society showcase has been successful with a lot of societies on redbrick showing what they do. However, there were some sign up difficulties when it came to creating a regular and consistent timetable of societies being on the redbrick. Zoe added that she is working to further improve how the society noticeboard works and to ensure that committees are aware that they able to promote their society through the screens around SUSU and Instagram takeovers.
Zoe updated that Culture Festival went well including Holi, Langar and Fire Festival and so did Sustainability week, for which she focused on the fashion show where charity clothes were being sold. She added that the Society and Volunteering Awards also went well. She mentioned that due to lack of capacity she was not able to work on her goals regarding postgraduate research students and added that the WSA pizza social went well but similar events dropped off the radar. Both goals would be passed over to the next VP Activities to look into.
VP Activities proceeded to elaborate on society support by saying that the new booking system has been launched with improvements being made after it has been trialed and used by SUSU staff and that she is working on having information available for societies about the system and having it as part of training. She added that there is a new SharePoint being developed for clubs and societies and it will be ready for the next academic year. Furthermore, there is a new code of conduct being developed for clubs and societies to facilitate disciplinary procedures and it will be in place for the next academic year.
Zoe updated on her work on the accreditation system by saying that feedback was received from sports clubs and senators are invited to give feedback too and she continuing to research other systems from other student unions.
Regarding building prioritisation, she said that the Nuffield building cannot be prioritised currently but there is prioritisation for the Annex Building which is used by performing arts societies. Issues such as accessibility and toilet facilities will be prioritised to improve the experience of performing arts societies using them.
Lastly, she concluded by saying that she is currently working with the Activities team on issues such as Annual General Meetings of societies and clubs, affiliations and disaffiliations and other procedures. She opened the floor to questions but there were none.
VP Sports, Cassie Osborne, did not attend the meeting and report was never received.