A Term of Democracy

A new term and it is one of democracy! It would be great to see as many satellite site students as possible getting involved so please read on!

General Meeting of the Guild of Students

As you may or may not know, the trustee board of the guild of students has called a general meeting of the guild. This is the first time this has happened and there are six special resolutions which will be put to the meeting. Every single member of the Guild of Students is able to attend and vote on the resolutions which are being put to the meeting. It is taking place at 6pm on 28th January 2013 in the Avon Room, University centre.

Obviously, as satellite site students you may not be able to make it to this meeting. It would be great if as many people as possible could attend but for those of you who can’t, there is an option for you to nominate a proxy voter who will vote as you instruct, in your place. All of the information about the meeting, including how to nominate a proxy vote, can be found on the guilds website – http://www.guildofstudents.com/main-menu/representation/general-meeting-gm-2013/notice-of-general-meeting-gm. If anyone would like to discuss anything in more detail, please feel free to get in touch!

Guild Officer Team Elections

It is that time of year again when the nominations for the guild officer team are open! The officer team (of which I am one of the non-sabbatical officers) are the elected officers who run the Guild of Students. There are various full (sabbatical) and part time (non-sabbatical) positions available including the Satellite Sites Officer position which is only open to satellite site students!

All of the information about the elections can be found here – http://www.guildofstudents.com/main-menu/representation/elections/guild-officer-elections. Whilst I am not allowed to officially endorse any candidates, I would be happy to discuss the role with anyone who is interested so please feel free to get in touch! Nominations close February 4th!

Emergency Guild Council

An emergency meeting of Guild Council (the highest student decision making body in the Guild) has been called for 22/01/13 to discuss motions which were not discussed at the previous meeting due to time constraints. The information can be found here – http://www.facebook.com/events/352966948143641/355125857927750/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity. If you have any opinions about any of the motions, please get in touch with myself or your guild councillors (I do not have a vote but they do!). All members are welcome to attend this event but if you can’t, it will also be streamed live by GTV which is great for satellite site students!

That’s all for now… Have a good term!


A Christmas Update

This blog was written on 14/11 but due to an IT issue could not be uploaded

Hi Everyone,

It is now the Christmas holidays for many and this is probably my last blog of 2012!

It has been a very successful first semester, I have made two satellite site visits, amended a motion to try and improve the distribution of student media at satellite sites and been in touch with staff at all of the satellite sites in order to try and arrange more visits. There have been two guild council meetings this term, both of which I attended and it was great to see satellite site students getting involved as guild councillors and running in other elections. Hopefully this is something we will see even more of next semester!

I have spoken to a large number of students over the past few weeks about their issues with London Midland. Many satellite site students live in or around Selly Oak yet study elsewhere (e.g. the school of dentistry). These students depend heavily upon the train links between University and Birmingham New Street. The issues with this train service this term have directly impacted on a large number of students and in response, I have contacted the Guild President about these issues. On Wednesday (12/12/2012), the president published a letter to London Midland on the guild website (http://www.guildofstudents.com/articles/letter-dear-london-midland) highlighting the issues many students are facing. This is a good start and I will be keeping a close eye on this matter and will keep everyone updated.

Next term sees the nominations open for next academic year’s officer team! Nominations will be open on 14th January and will close on 4th February. It would be great to see satellite site students getting involved and more information will be posted on the Guild website closer to the time.

That’s all for this year! I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas and is ready for another great year!


Guild Council Update 15 11 2012


So I have just returned from the first Guild Council of the year and figured it is a good a time as any to blog!

I am still following up on a range of points that have been raised so far and will update everyone as and when appropriate. In the mean time, if you have any questions, queries, comments or indeed issues, please feel free to get in touch!

I am aware that there was a slight issue with the Student Rep training at the Dental Hospital which was due to take place today and I am working to come up with a solution with the dental school, the guild and the relevant guild officers. Hopefully that will be resolved soon!

Satellite Site Win at Guild Council

There were two things that stood out for satellite site students at tonight’s meeting. Firstly, I amended motion 11r – Student Media to specifically mention satellite sites. The Guild now officially ‘believes’ that student media should be made available on main campus, on satellite sites and beyond. I hope this will be a helpful addition to the guilds beliefs when it comes to increasing the distribution of student media to satellite sites.

In addition, a motion fell (11d – Guild Council Filmed Motion) which would have prevented Guild Council from being live streamed over the internet. Guild council is an open meeting that any full member of the Guild (essentially any student of the University of Birmingham) is entitled to attend. However, for satellite site students there is an obvious barrier to attending these meetings. Whilst this motion was not directly related to satellite sites, the fact that Guild Council will now be streamed live over the internet is of great benefit to any satellite site student who is not able to attend but is interested in what goes on. I will be getting information out on where to find the stream before the next meeting so keep an eye out!

Blogging Censures

There was a heated discussion regarding the ‘automatic censures’ for Guild Officers who do not regularly blog at this evening’s Guild Council. For those of you who are unaware, a censure is Guild Councils way of telling officers that they have not fulfilled their duties or acted inappropriately etc. Officers are expected to blog at least once every 30 days and if they fail to do this, they automatically receive a censure.

I am not sure how many people (other than spam bots) actually read this blog but I feel it is appropriate to explain myself for anyone who does. I blogged on 23 September 2012 which meant I was required to blog again before 23 October 2012. However, in between these two dates the officer blogs website had issues (I believe it was infected by some sort of virus) making it inaccessible. On the 20th October I attempted to access my blog in order to post and was unable to and as such sent an email to IT asking when it would become available again. I was not informed that the site was accessible until the afternoon of 23 October 2012. As a full time student in the middle of my dissertation research, I did not have the chance to a) receive this email and b) post my blog until 28 October 2012.

I am sorry if anyone is disappointed by this 5 day delay but as a volunteer, I have a limited amount of time and the disruption left me unable to blog on time. In line with the conversation in Guild Council, I have passed this onto the president who will be looking into the matter further as I am not the only officer to have been censured as a result of this technical issue.

Anyway, please feel free to get in touch and keep an eye out for details of the Guild Council stream!



Visit to Stratford and Planning More…

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the blackout that has lasted so long but as anyone who checks these pages will know, they have been offline for a few weeks due to some sort of virus. Anyway, all fixed now so you get to know what I’ve been up to!

The highlight of my past few weeks was my visit to the Shakespeare institute in Stratford upon Avon. I was joined by David (President) and Jimmy (VPS), both first time visitors to the institute. We spent some time talking to students at the institute about the issues they have and introduced ourselves to everyone in their seminar. We also took the opportunity to hand out some postgraduate handbooks which seemed to go down well and of course we had the obligatory cup of tea J (see vici’s post from a while back about tea!)

The students at Stratford raised some very interesting points which I am currently at various stages of working on. Some of the points they raised include issues with their Library which has already been brought to the attention of library services, an issue with redbrick distribution which is in the process of being resolved and an issue with council tax for PHD students in writing up (it’s a different council to Birmingham which got sorted last year) and I am planning to meet with James Hughes (VPHC) to discuss that and start to work towards a solution. Aside from the issues, they were happy we made the visit over there and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to go back!

I have also been working on arranging visits to other satellite sites. I am in various stages of arranging these visits and will keep everyone posted! Hopefully I will get to each site at least once this year and establish something which can be continued in future years. I am also working on getting some statistics together to see exactly how many satellite site students there are at Birmingham – I have a feeling it is more than everyone thinks! Obviously there is the generic non-sabb stuff such as attending meetings etc but I won’t bore you with that here!

Apart from all my SSO duties I am working hard on my degree and am starting to get my dissertation of the ground so I have lots to fill my time!

Thanks for reading, ill update again soon!


A New Year…

Well, Fresher’s is over and it’s time to start a new year at University! I have been back in Birmingham a week now and am starting to get settled in so I thought I would check in and write my first ‘proper’ blog as SSO!


This past week has been very busy in the Guild with all of the welcome week activities but despite how busy it’s been, satellite sites have not been forgotten! On Friday, James Robertson, VPHC, joined me at a welcome event at the School of Dentistry in Birmingham City Centre. As far as we are aware, this is the first time a Sabbatical officer has officially visited the Dental hospital and the fact that it happened during one of the Guild’s busiest weeks was even better! We took the opportunity to introduce the new students at the Dental Hospital to the Guild of Students and the facilities and services it has to offer (go manifesto point 3). Later in the day I had a stall at the BUDSS (Birmingham University Dental Students Society) Freshers Fair where I got the chance to talk to the students in more detail about the Guild. I made sure I gave out lots of student group guides as most of the students were unable to attend the fairs at the Guild on Thursday and Friday due to welcome events at the Dental School (go manifesto point 1). The feedback from the BUDSS committee from the day was great and hopefully this is something that will continue in future years!


Also this week I have heard of people in the Guild arranging visits to satellite sites without being prompted! This is amazing as it means the Guild is beginning to appreciate the need for increased contact with the students who study away from the main campus. There is a visit to the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford upon Avon already planned for a few of the Sabbs in a couple of week’s time. Fingers crossed I will be available to go along with them! Additionally, as part of the PGMSA Welcome Week 2012, Emily Halford (Postgraduate and Mature Students Officer) has taken a group of post-graduate students to see a student production at the Institute today.


So, what do I have planned for the future? It was great getting to visit the dental school this week and I am hoping to be able to fit in visits to as many of the satellite sites as possible over the next year (as long as my degree doesn’t get in the way too much!) I also want to work with the Guild to see if we can come up with an effective way of promoting its services at the satellite sites and make it easier for those students to access them. I am hoping to get the chance to have a proper look at the shuttle services to Selly Oak campus this year and see if there is anything that can be done to improve it.


I guess this is also a good time to put my contact details out there! Because of the nature of my degree it is not going to be possible for me to have regular office times (however much I would like to do this). Instead, I am planning on posting on my social media accounts as far in advance as possible times when I know I am going to be in the office for any period of time. If I am ever in the office and you are around the Guild and want to have a chat, feel free to come on up (go to 2nd floor at the stairs near Spar) however, as the majority of people who may want to talk to me are unlikely to be around main campus, there are some other options too!


If you know I am going to be in the office, you can call the Guild of Students (0121 251 2300) and ask to be transferred to the Non-Sabb office and I will happily talk to you over the phone. You can also email me at any time and I will either email you back or call you if you prefer, my email address is sso@guild.bham.ac.uk. Obviously, I am a full time student as well as being SSO but I will try my best to get back to you as soon as possible!


I also have some ‘official’ social media accounts that you can use. My Facebook can be found at www.facebook.com/BhamGuildSSO. I have also been given a Twitter account, @Guild_SSO which I am slowly learning how to use!


So, that’s all for now… Please feel free to get in touch however you like if you have any problems you wish to discuss, any ideas you wish to share or just fancy a chat! Don’t forget the Guild of Students are currently accepting nominations for Guild Councillor Elections… all of the details can be found here: http://guildofstudents.com/main-menu/representation/elections/guild-councillor-elections


All the best for the new university year!



Hello, this is my first blog post since being elected as Satellite Sites Officer (SSO) so I want to introduce myself and let you know why you may not have seen much of me over the past few months.


First things first… who am I, what do I do and how can you get hold of me? I am Adam Smith and I am the new Satellite Sites Officer for the Guild of Students. This means I am responsible for making sure all ‘Satellite Site’ students at the University of Birmingham (So basically any University of Birmingham student who does not study at the main Edgbaston campus) are represented within and have appropriate access to the Guild of Students. I will go into more detail about what my specific plans are once I get settled into my role but for now, If you need or want to contact me about any satellite site related issues, my email address is sso@guild.bham.ac.uk.


So… Where have I been and how come I have not been in the guild every waking hour of every day? Well, I have been in the USA working and now that my summer job is over, I am taking a well-deserved rest, visiting friends whilst I am over this side of the pond. This means I have not had much time to get my teeth stuck into my new role but I have been keeping as up to date as possible and am ready to hit the ground running in fresher’s week.


I will be keeping an eye on my emails as much as possible whilst I am in the USA and will get back to anyone who contacts me as soon as possible. But for now, enjoy what remains of summer (and the fine British weather) and I look forward to getting started in September!


Adam Smith
Satellite Sites Officer, Guild of Students

Handing over and finishing my degree.

I have to admit, I haven’t made a huge amount of impact or dramatic speeches in the last month. I’ve just been preparing to hand over to the lovely new SSO when mid-June comes around. This year (or half year) I’ve been making sure all the notes and paperwork have been kept organised. All my Guild Council notes are in a folder ready to hand over for thrilling perusing and the epic SSO Black and Red notebook will also be bestowed upon Adam for his information, along with a large explanation for what is incomplete work (for good reason) and what is potential to be developed. I’m quite looking forward to our eventual handover meeting so I can talk about what I’ve done and hopefully realise that actually I’ve made a big change. I believe I have.

Having finished my dissertation in four days (I do not recommend this… well, if I get a good mark, I do), I relocated to Stratford-upon-Avon to work for the RSC for a bit of work experience (go me!) and many people will know that this is the lovely location of the Shakespeare Institute. I talk about it enough, if any reader of this here blog doesn’t know that then I do sympathise with your memory trouble. In one of my breaks, I shot off to Starbucks (other coffee and beverage shops are available – I’ve heard Costa are alright, too) for a boost of energy and I was spotted by John, the treasurer of the Institute Players. Not only did he recognise me but he remembered that I mentioned I’d be here for a while, too. We had a good catch up and went on with our lives. So, what I’m getting it is that it’s a lovely thing when an Officer does their job. The easiest way to see if that’s the case is to pick some students out and see if they recognise their Officers. At that test, I won! Good times. …this test does not apply to all officers, that would just be silly and would undermine the behind-closed-doors work that most of them do.

I intend to write a summary-of-the-year type post at some point when I get back to Birmingham and have my beloved SSO notebook again. You should look forward to that. It’s really edge-of-seat stuff!

And congrats to Owen for winning the tea and biscuit I promised for anyone who actually reads my blog. As he was the only one who mentioned anything to me, I can justifiably say anything on here as no one would read it. Huzzah!

Peace out, beautiful people… person.

Vici Royle
Satellite Sites Officer
email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
twitter: @GuildSSO

SRSAB and being a final year student

Admittedly, this will be an incredibly empty post. It being the final couple of months of my degree, I’ve been (and still am) very busy with tieing up loose ends and finishing the final projects. This includes my dissertation.

One of the boards I sit on is SRSAB (Student Rep System Advisary Board) which reviews the student rep system and tries to make it more effective by suggesting various things from training the members of staff involved to greater publicity around all campuses. The main topic of conversation on the board last time was online media. I argued that Facebook and Twitter, but moreso the former, are not good tools to use when ‘business’ is involved. I regard the student rep system as business. It’s certainly not a casual social thing. As seen from the online Guild Better Forums, Facebook is not an effective platform to discuss issues. The reasons for this are countless but hopefully if you’ve found your way to my blog you’ll be familiar with them.

Last year, the University trialed a ‘My Student Rep’ features on my.bham which didn’t get utilised as hoped. To move to Facebook would not be a natural progression. Thankfully, my ideas were taken on board and rather than actively encouraging reps to use Facebook as a means to carry out their communications, we are happy to advocate it as an option given that it is used professionally. Obviously there are issues with accessibility but as each student rep is a representative of a small group (relatively), hopefully they will understand which method of communication is better. For example, the rep at the Shakespeare Institute can communicate in meetings and the small community in Stratford means that students discuss issues with each other without a problem. Drama students prefer to speak to their rep on Facebook because they all know each other in a similar way to those in Stratford. For a group of people who don’t necessarily know each other and just recognise faces from lectures, I don’t agree with Facebook being the place for serious chat.

If anyone wants to find out more about student reps or see who their student reps are, speak to the friendly staff in Student Voice. Student Voice is in the Guild on the same corridor as Subway.

Vici Royle
Satellite Sites Officer
email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
twitter: @GuildSSO

Sabbs on the Satellite Sofa

Last Thursday, I took several Guild Officers to Stratford-upon-Avon to visit the lovely people of the Shakespeare Institute. This was the result of several months of planning and moving things around in diaries. To make the visit effective, I asked the SI student rep to raise the proposed visit at their meeting, as well as speaking to other students. Eventually I got a list of officers they thought would be beneficial to speak to. I managed to get all but three, due to work commitments (Kelly has a degree to do, Emily is extremely busy with her degree also and Mark was in Nottingham on business).

So, off to Stratford skipped myself, Adam (SSO-elect), Noorie (International Students Officer), Dan (LGBTQ Officer), Fliss (VP Activities and Development) and Hugo (VP Democracy and Resources). We offered mini eggs and biscuits and the chance to discuss anything with the Guild Officers. Whilst I’ve visited the Shakespeare Institute many times before and Adam had a meeting there during the elections fortnight, it was interesting to see the reactions of the officers who were previously oblivious to the differences of living and studying at Birmingham but outside of main campus. Many action points were made, several of which have already been completed.

This was the first time in several years that the Officer Team has reached out to the Shakespeare Institute and I have high hopes for Adam from July to keep in touch with all the satellite sites and encourage the next officer team to continue the excellent relationship that now exists between the Guild and them. Several students commented on the efforts made by myself this year which made particularly the attending sabbatical officers realise how important, and rewarding, it is to engage with Hard to Reach students. Maybe some time in the future we’ll even get a student from the Shakespeare Institute running in the elections? Or attending Guild Council? They’re very passionate people, I see no reason why they wouldn’t be encouraged to get more involved.

As it’s the Easter/Spring vacation period, I’m offering a ‘hidden easter egg’ treat. Anyone who emails me to let me know they’ve read this post will receive a box of tea and a biscuit. Offer ends when I re-locate to Stratford on May 6th (unless, of course, you’re located in Stratford in which case enjoy an extended offer until June 10th).

Vici Royle
Satellite Sites Officer
email: v.royle@guild.bham.ac.uk
twitter: @GuildSSO

Your new Officer team (as of July 2012)

I just wanted to include a note to say that voting has closed and the Officer Team elect stands as:

President – David Franklin

Vice President (Democracy and Resources) – Leander Jones

Vice President (Activities and Development) – Ollie Cosentino

Vice President (Education) – Simon Furse

Vice President (Housing and Community) – James Robertson

Vice President (Sport) – James Hughes

Vice President (Welfare) – Katherine East

Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism Officer – Hannah Skolnick

Community Action Officer – Sean Farmelo

Disabled Students’ Officer – Amy Connelly

Ethical & Environmental Officer – Alice Swift

Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer – Sacha Hassan

Home Students’ Officer – Joe Sewell

International Students’ Officer – Saara Pokki

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Students’ Officer – Rachel Foreman

Satellite Sites Officer – Adam Smith (most importantly, for those reading this blog)

Women’s Officer – Kristina Ilieva

I also want to make clear the the current Officer team are still in office until the new lot take over in early July. Queries should still go to the current officer team and we won’t work any less just because we have a new team awaiting.

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