The Council were presented with the Sabbatical Officer Reports
a) Verbal Officer reports
Claire Gilbert (VP Engagement): As a member of the Spring Elections Working Group, she has spent a lot of time helping to shape the elections and used this opportunity to encourage and inspire council members to get involved- whether running in the elections or being on a campaign team. She talked about her time so far and how enjoyable it has been, and advised people to really consider nominating themselves.
David Martin (VP Democracy and Creative Industries): Promoted running in the elections or getting involved in other ways, for example being on the Spring Elections working group. The storage audit has started, in conjunction with David Gilani and the Master Plan. Most work has been done on organising the elections, nominations open this week. The Sabbatical drop ins have been taking place this week on the concourse, 12-3pm and so if anyone has any questions about the elections, please drop by for a chat. Meetings between Sabbatical officers and student leaders can also be arranged for anyone with questions regarding the positions and what they entail.
Evan Whyte (VP Sports Development): Progress has been slow over the last few months however the Sports Development team have been working very hard. Over the last week, work has been done on budgets. Preparation for Varsity is almost complete; we are just waiting on the promotional material for it. There has been progress on the ‘Barriers to participation’ project; Adam Proudley and Jake Bradley have conducted an accessibility review on some clubs; the focus is on Archery, Athletics and the Boat Club. On the performance front, the Sailing Club won 2nd place in regional qualifiers. We are doing well in BUCS so far as well, there has been improvement since last year. Hopefully, we will be returning with the Varsity Trophy.
Beckie Thomas (VP Welfare): This has been the first report she has presented as council. She reiterated what Claire and David Martin had said about elections and encouraged people to run. Vent about your Rent will be happening again this year on 1st March, once results have been collated and a report has been created, there will be an online form where students can voice their opinions about their landlords. A Housing Officer has been created; anyone interested in running for this position is welcome to do so at the next Student Life Zone Committee meeting. A Wellbeing Committee has been created; they sit under the Student Life Zone. There are seven officers on this committee; the officer roles are sexual health, mental health, substance misuse, financial health, healthy living and two general officers. The BEES launch is happening this week. Finally, Beckie informed council that there is a sustainability survey run by the University and she asked people to spread the word about this.
Oli Coles (VP Student Communities): Talked about news that was missed out of his report. The project he is working on, alongside David Gilani, is International guarantors. They are trying to get the University to agree to be housing guarantors for when international students sign for accommodation. He is also working on creating a platform where information for pre-sessional students about housing can be accessed; this will include practical advice about delaying signing contracts until they pass as well as legal advice about contracts. We have been designing a media brief for sites (Winchester and NOC) exploring ways that SUSU can be marketed. Finally, Oli will post the improving participation survey to the Union Council Facebook page; he asked people to fill out the survey and pass it on to others.
David Mendoza-Wolfson (VP Education): He has been working on improving our representation system; a new charter is needed to explain fully what a Faculty Officer and Academic President is, what they do and what people can expect in the role. In the past few weeks, the first Faculty Officer and Academic President forum was held which will help to inform this piece of work. The library have put in a bid to the Education Enhancement Fund for £100,000 over the next three years. If they are successful, they will hopefully start opening 24 hours during exam periods (which may possibly extend into other semester times too). He has had agreement from all Associate deans of education in every faculty that where it is easier for students to submit work online, then the university will expect only an online submission; he is working on creating a policy for this as well. The Education Zone has chosen Student Engagement to be the theme of a report carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency. As part of this report, there is also a student written submission which David will be leading on; we will also be employing a researcher to assist in this. In the next few weeks there will also be focus groups that will hopefully be informing this report. Finally, Education Zone are running their first Appathon this week; students can still sign up for it until Thursday 6th February. He also reminded everyone that anyone is welcome to attend Education Zone, not just those who have been elected to sit on it.
David Gilani (Union President): He has been working on January budget reviews recently. We have passed the International fees policy which means that International students will now know how much their course fees will be when they start; there will be no increase each year. Reminded people about the Sabbatical drops in and encouraged people to come and talk to the Sabbatical Officers who will be on the concourse this week. Finally, he is working on getting microwaves in SUSU building for students to use. David informed council that the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences have had their microwaves taken away from them, so they are donating them to SUSU.
Q1. Beckie Thomas: The Petting Zoo was only available during the second week and, as we wanted all activities to be within the same week, we had to work around their availability. The idea was that students who had completed exams could come to the events as a treat, and those who were still taking exams could get a short break from studies. The majority of events were free. The events that were not were run by SUSU affiliated groups and we subsidise them (free use of Cube); there were plenty of free and accessible events for everyone. The exercise classes were booked as they are good stress-reduction activities.
Q2. Beckie Thomas: Firstly, The Advice Centre is aware of the difficulties faced by students in these situations, and we support everyone with accessing help. However, they can only help those who come to them. There is a Mental Health Officer in place now as of this week; it will be an issue for them to flag up and take forward. Beckie will work closely with this officer on this issue. Secondly, we are aware of MIND focus groups that are being run. The findings of these groups will be confidential and so cannot be disclosed to SUSU. However, SUSU hope to build a close relationship with MIND so that they can work together on similar projects.
Evan Whyte: The Hockey (mens) team struggled to fill out the online application and so they sent Evan Whyte a hardcopy of their application with a detailed breakdown of costs. When Evan filled out the online form on their behalf, the breakdown was not included and he apologised as this was an admin error on his part. The actual application was strong and the committee were happy to approve it.
Lucy Dowdall then answered: The Vixen’s application had requests for 4/5 competitions and again, the committee were happy to approve this. Badminton (colours) requested funding for coaching, which the committee believed came under Development pot. Similarly, Football (Men’s) and Rugby (Men’s) asked for funding for coaching, again under the Development pot. As Rugby (Men’s) is on our Focus Sport programme, the committee were happy to push this group forward to more success. Football (Men’s) has hired a highly qualified coach, and as one of the biggest groups at SUSU, the committee were happy to approve funding for them as it will add to their success already.
Evan concluded by asking what Sports Clubs should include in their applications for funding? The Sports Development Zone has a huge number of applications each round already, therefore splitting requests into individual items and resources will only exacerbate the situation. The Sports Development Zone committee work on the premise that if the application is clearly broken down within the form then the committee can approve requests where they see fit. Regarding Badminton, they have a high turnover of shuttlecocks and as it’s a key component of their sport, the committee approved this request. All funding is allocated in line with the zone strategy.
There are no specific rules or guidelines regarding behaviour in common spaces at Halls as we hope that students are sensible and use these spaces for the purpose they were built for; unfortunately this was not the case this time. Oli will work with the JCR committees and Halls managers to create guidelines for behaviour in common spaces. There are also plans to update some areas of halls in the future.
Medicine Faculty Officer – Alexander Oldman
David Mendoza-Wolfson: Alexander Oldman has not responded to any communication and has not sent apologies. It is likely that in the next Union Council there will be a motion to remove him from position.
Winchester (Site) Officer – Amy Harwood
Oli Coles: He has been talking to her about her attendance, and he was expecting her to attend today’s meeting however she has failed to attend.